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Friday, November 29, 2013

What's in a "Word"?

I have been studying for our next series of sermons, entitled, "Do you hear what I hear". The premise is to discuss and study out 5 of the most significant statements ever made. This is quite a task considering there are 66 books in the Bible full of important phrases or quotable quotes.
Through  this study I searched famous statements which of course brought up famous quotes instead, but as I foraged through these quotes it amazed me at how many of our past leaders and influences in the united states talked about freedom and protecting our constitution. From Washington, Lincoln, and Johnson, to Martin Luther King Jr. they all had something to say. I would encourage you to not waste your time looking up Barack Hussein Obama quotes unless you desire less freedom, more control, and Muslim tolerance.
The thing that struck me through my studying is the importance of our words and how we choose to use them. We all know that women use more words than men, and so guys we need to be praying for women. ha ha. Seriously, if you stop and review your days word usage, would there be anything you'd change? Maybe select a different word, say it kinder, not say something, or maybe to speak up when you didn't the first time. The Bible has much to say in word selection and James warns us about the devastation our tiny little mouth muscles can reap when used flippantly or without caution and restraint. Not everything that crosses your brain needs to be processed by your mouth. Think how many arguments you would have avoided. I know my life would look differently today if I payed closer attention to my words selecting them like a mechanic choosing the right tool for the job.
Why not spend some time considering what changes need to be made in your word usage right now and plan to make the necessary changes.
Till next time, get those turkey leftovers eaten up.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fork me!

Not so long ago I participated in my first funeral. As a pastor we are often called to crisis situations but thankfully I had never been called to do a funeral. Out of the blue I get a call and am told that days are limited and that my church was the church of choice for the funeral. As I set in my office and pondered the reality that we will all at some time answer for how we have spent the time God has given us. No man, woman, or child will get around this stark reality, which got me thinking over the past. Specifically the last 5-10 years. I reminisced of friends and family that I have all around the country and the rough times that have surrounded many of them. I quite honestly started to get discouraged. I personally know more pastors than I can count on both hands that have left the ministry either out of frustration or because they were asked to leave. This led me to relook over some of my old emails to see if I could see any indication of their leaving the ministry and it led me in a way different direction. I came across an email of a pastor who had met a young lady who had limited days because of cancer and was preparing her funeral. As the pastor had completed the details, I got up and after a humble good bye opened the door. "Stop"' she called out. "I almost forgot the most important thing. My final request is to have a fork placed in my right hand so during the viewings and visitations people will be curious of the significance of this fork." Not wanting to be rude the pastor agreed that he would make certain of this final request. Indignant, she asked if he was at all curious why she wanted this, of all things. "Well, I am a bit curious",  he shyly responded. The young lady explained that as a young girl as the supper dishes were being cleaned up she would yearn to hear the words, "keep your forks". For she knew that was the indication of something better coming to her. She would grip her fork tightly and graciously receive the dessert which was sweet, warm and substantial. Hot fudge brownies a'la mode, pie, cake, custard, it really didn't matter it was the best part of the meal. "I want people to ask about the fork, and then I want you to explain it to them. I know the best is yet to come."
I sometimes lose track of this myself, in fact Jesus claims that He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. This isn't reference to the earthly riches you and I cling to, it was a reference to the eternal status you may have as a gift from Him to you. He has already reserved your space through His payment on the cross. So the question is will you take the fork or reject it? Jesus clearly says, "I am the way the truth and the life NO ONE come to the Father but through Me". The world will tell you otherwise and may feel good immediately but it will always be temporary. Salvation is for eternity and trust me it will feel better, be more joyous and rewarding than anything this earth has to offer. Why not make that decision now? What is standing in the way?
Till the next time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A long over due thank you:-(

As a preacher there are usually times of the year that people expect something such as an Easter service, or Good Friday service, Christmas series, and of course the summer should be filled with stand alone sermons because to many people will be traveling to be effective with a series.
I have always held to the belief that God Himself will give direction and although I value parishioners thoughts, I must follow God's lead.
It hit home yesterday that I have gotten tied up in a series that I am doing and trying to complete so I can begin my Christmas series, that although I feel this is what God led me to, He maintains the right to give me a last minute switch. Now if you know me at all you know me and last minute are not friends. I like to plan and think through and so when I felt the gentle nudge to acknowledge the veterans that have fought and still fight for our freedoms, I decided to just do an acknowledgement at the beginning of our service to appease my conscience.
Please don't think for an instant I meant to be flippant or unappreciative, as my intentions were to squeeze more in without losing what was already there. Usually this is about as effective as getting toothpaste back into the tube.
While speaking about our veterans I was moved almost to the point of tears as to how far our country has fallen and yet many of our men and women still fight for our rights even if we have given up. I understand that our veterans get paid and have great benefits, get to travel and see the world, use the latest and greatest technology, get college tuition, and many other nice perks as a trade off, but let me tell you about some other things they sometimes receive.
Prosthetic limbs due to an injury in the line of duty. counseling for all the death and destruction they endure. medication for the foreign illnesses you and I can't even pronounce. A divorce decree to sign when they return because their spouse didn't "sign up" for being a single parent. A new born child who is now walking and knows a few words, daddy isn't one of them because he is protecting you from afar. And how about the job loss, post traumatic stress disorder or paranoia thinking someone is always wanting to kill you, not to mention the snide comments that veterans get because of some Neanderthal liberal who associates the soldier with innocent deaths and blames the soldier instead of the threat and cowardly slime that put innocent lives at risk to save their own hydes.
I want to apologize to our veterans for not dedicating more time to prayer for you both personally and corporately as we worship. I want to apologize for not dedicating a day to observing the very things you fight for. And I want to apologize for taking for granted the comforts of my life and the freedoms that I observe every day because someone is doing something to maintain that freedom. You dear soldiers are a blessing.
We honor you today, those who have fallen and those who are being shot at as we read this. We pray for you, for your family and ask for your safety and strength. We are with you and we love you.
If you have need of prayer or would like to comment please feel free to do so. Please pass this post on to others that we may honor our veterans.
In His hands, even in the trenches
Pastor Mark

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What are you clinging to?

Can you remember back to when you were a kid? What I mean is how much things have changed and how different things are. In remember growing up on our farm and when dad would take the pickup into town or to a neighbors house my two sisters and I would hop in the back and off we'd go. We were supposed to sit down and not move but sometimes we set on the wheel wells and had a better view, after all we were all pretty young. I remember hopping in moms ole bomb and rolling down the windows to stay safe because of the leaky exhaust and rust holes. The car should have been called mobile suicide. We didn't even know if the car had seat belts and if it did we probably would have been more likely to tie them around our waists in case the floor gave out.
Fast forward a few years. Married with children and approaching the same circumstances I grew up around seem like insanity. Why would any parent in their right mind allow a child to ride in the back of a pickup going down the road. I can't find the buckle to my seat belt so two people are strapped together in their 3 point harness which is sure to prove interesting in an accident situation. Air bags, on star, and AAA are all at my rescue should I need them. I never thought my parents were bad parents but it is amazing how terrifying it would be to put a 30 lb. kid in the back of a truck when you've seen 150 pound items fly out of the back of a truck and the damage it did when it hit the ground. My parents didn't play Russian rulet with my life so what's changed? It is pretty simple. Our culture has!
It says your not smart enough to take care of yourself so you better find someone to help you. It tells you that your not strong enough so you need to find something to help you. In the same breath it says you don't need anyone, but you do need "stuff". After all you know the old antage, "the one who dies with the most stuff wins".
Honestly, I can do without a lot of stuff. I don't need to be the best, fastest, strongest, handsomest, wisest, person, although I am. tee hee. What I do need is to know who I am and my identity. I do need to know in a world full of uncertainty that I am safe and confident. I've looked in a lot of places for happiness, security, acceptance and have always been disappointed until the day I inquired of the stranger. This stranger was noble, royalty in fact and offered to take me in, feed me, clothe me and protect me. He made my enemies tremble at His presence. And then He offered for me to live with Him as a son forever. I would receive my own mansion and untold of treasure. And then with a tear in His eye He tells me of His Son, whom was beaten, abused, spat upon and murdered in a most horrendous way. Because of His Son, I can come and be part of His family and although His Son was left for dead, He came back from the dead and is now with Him. The name of His Son, is the most well known name in human history and is used as a curse word by some. Some have issued law suits and petitions to ban His name from even being mentioned. His name has been ban from our courthouses, senate, house and maybe even your vocabulary.
This name that is above all names is.....Jesus Christ. Do you know Him?
If you would like to know more send me a comment and I will be in touch. If you already know Him are you trusting Him.
Till next time