The Titanic Task Of Evangelism

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Matthew 28:19 (NLT)
19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of the Titanic. From the time I was a young child and seeing the old movie version (not to be confused with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet), it has intrigued my imagination thinking about the great ship. Recently though it has entered my mind as an illustration of evangelism. Survivor Eva Hart remembers the night, April 15, 1912, on which the Titanic plunged 12,000 feet to the Atlantic floor, some two hours and forty minutes after an iceberg tore a 300-foot gash in the starboard side: “I saw all the horror of its sinking, and I heard, even more dreadful, the cries of drowning people.” Although twenty lifeboats and rafts were launched, too few and only partly filled, most of the passengers ended up struggling in the icy seas while those in the boats waited a safe distance away. Lifeboat No. 14 did row back to the scene after the unsinkable ship slipped from sight at 2:20 A.M. Alone, it chased cries in the darkness, seeking and saving a precious few. Incredibly, no other boat joined it.

Some were already overloaded, but in virtually every other boat, those already saved rowed their half-filled boats aimlessly in the night, listening to the cries of the lost. Each feared a crush of unknown swimmers would cling to their craft, eventually swamping it.

“I came to seek and to save the lost,” our Savior said. And he commissioned us to do the same. But we face a large obstacle: fear. While people drown in the treacherous waters around us, we are tempted to stay dry and make certain no one rocks the boat. Another thing to consider was the temperature of the water that night. Our family visited the replica of the Titanic in Branson, MO and inside was a device that held water at the same temperature as the water of the Atlantic Ocean the night of the sinking. I could not hold my hand in it for more than 30 seconds with out intense pain. When thinking of those who need Christ who are not only drowning, but drowning in intense pain in not knowing Christ. The question we need to ask ourselves is are we going to be like all the lifeboats that wouldn’t go back out of fear, or are we going to be like lifeboat No. 14 that went back and saved as many as they could? Those lifeboats could have changed history, but we can impact lives for eternity.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Out Of The Muck

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NLT)
18  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

A family was out vacationing at the lake one summer. Dad had been puttering out by the boathouse. Two of his sons, a 12-year old and a 3-year old were down playing along the dock. The 12 year old was supposed to be watching his little brother, but he got distracted. The 3 year old, little Billy, thought that would be a good time to check out the shiny aluminum fishing boat tied up at the end of the dock. So he went to the dock and put one foot on the boat, and one foot on the dock. He lost his balance and fell into the water, which was about 5 or 6 ft deep. The splash alerted the 12-yr old who let out a piercing scream. Dad came running from the boathouse, jumped into the water, swam down, but unable to see anything, came up for air. Sick with panic, he went right back down into this murky water, and began to feel everywhere around the bottom. He couldn’t feel anything. Finally, on his way up, he felt little Billy’s arms locked in a death grip on one of the posts of the dock, about 4 ft under water. Prying the boy’s fingers loose, they burst up together thru the surface to fill their lungs with life giving air.

Finally when the adrenaline had stopped surging, and nerves had calmed down a little bit, the Father asked his son, “What on earth were you doing down there hanging onto the post so far under the water? And little Billy’s answer was a classic; laced with the wisdom only a toddler could give. He said, “I was just waiting for you dad. Just waiting for you.” Friends, today we celebrate that 2000 years ago, the God of the universe left the glory and the splendor of heaven, a place where there was no pain and no sickness, no accidents, no hurt, and no death.  And he plunged into this dark, murky world on a rescue mission, a rescue mission for all of us who are drowning, a rescue mission for all of us who are barely hanging on, a rescue mission for all of us who are lost in the darkness.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Matter of the Heart

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

One Sunday morning an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin. Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt and boots that were very worn and ragged. In his hand he carried a worn out old hat and an equally worn out bible. The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen. The people of the congregation were all dressed with expensive clothes and accessories. As the cowboy took a seat, the others settled down in areas away from him. No one greeted, spoke to, or welcomed him. They were all dismayed at his appearance and did not attempt to hide it. The preacher gave a long sermon about Hellfire and brimstone and a stern lecture on how people ought to be finding more people to win to Jesus because baptisms were down. As the old cowboy was leaving the church, the preacher approached him and asked the cowboy to do him a favor. “Before you return next time, maybe have a talk with God and ask him what He thinks would be appropriate attire for worship. You might find that would help you fit in a little better and feel more at home with us.” The old cowboy assured the preacher he would. The next Sunday, he showed back up for the services wearing the same ragged jeans, shirt, boots, and hat. Once again he was completely shunned and ignored. The preacher approached the man and said, “I thought I asked you to speak to God about your attire and get his input on the matter of appropriate dress for worship in His church.” “Oh, I did that… I truly did,” replied the old cowboy. “If you spoke to God, what did he tell you the proper dress should be for worshiping in here?” asked the preacher. “Well, sir, God told me that He didn’t have a clue what I should wear here these days – He says He’s not attended here in a long time.” Let’s remember that worship doesn’t depend on what we wear or what car we drive to get to church. What matters is the condition of our hearts. Are we really worshipping God with all our hearts or are we holding something back? Remember that God cares more about what inside of us than he does about the outside of us.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Expanding Our Circle

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NLT)
9  There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. 10  He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

Sometimes small churches look at themselves and say, “Oh, we can’t do this and we can’t do that because we are too small. We don’t have the resources.” They allow their vision to get limited by their circumstances, and instead of taking giant steps of faith they take baby steps. I’m reminded of the story of a man who had done something wonderful and the king called him in and told him he could mark off as much of the kingdom as he wanted and it would be his. The man took his staff and traced a line in the dirt around himself. The king watched as he finished and said, “Is that all you want? Just what’s in that circle?” The man said, “NO. I want everything OUTSIDE the circle.” What if we drew a line around this building and said we want to claim all the territory beyond this place for God? Jabez looked beyond where he was and what he could do to where God was and what God could do. We can take a lesson from the vision of Jabez. Let’s not sell ourselves short. I think that we should claim the entire neighborhood around this church and then move on from there. Let us not lose sight of our vision to transform one life at a time, but remember that one leads to another, and another. Be blessed in Jesus.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

America’s Words Of Wisdom From The Past

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NLT)
14  Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 15  My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

As we approach the celebration of our country’s independence from Great Britain, known as July 4th, I have been thinking about this idea of independence. What is independence, and what are we independent from? Well the dictionary defines independence as “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like of others” (Dictionary.com). So this begs the question are we truly independent, or can we ever be truly independent? In my mind the answer to that question is no, we will never be totally independent. At the moment we are dependent upon foreign oil, foreign money, and a host of others things that we receive from others. Moreover, we are and always will be dependent upon a loving a gracious God. This is confirmed by the words of our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, who said, “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord. We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand, which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us” (Abraham Lincoln, Oct 1863). Not only have we forgotten God, but we have forgotten the words of this great leader from our country’s history. Furthermore, we have abandoned God by our actions, words, and deeds. Perhaps rather than celebrating this July 4th we need to humble ourselves, repent of our sins, and return to the God who made us the great nation we are today.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Why Are We Here?

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of The Lord:

Acts 1:8 (NLT)
8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Now that we are in our new building we need to answer the question, “Why are we here?” Having a new church building, and all that it brings, is a wonderful thing, but we need to ask ourselves what is purpose God has for us in this place. Is it just so that we can say, “Hey look at our beautiful new building?” I think not. God never does anything without a reason and purpose, and I think we can all agree that this was definitely God’s doing. So what is God’s purpose for us here? Win Arn, a leading church consultant conducted a survey. He surveyed members of nearly a thousand churches asking the question, “Why does the church exit?? The results? Of the church members surveyed, 89 percent said, “The church’s purpose is to take care of my family’s and my needs.? For many, the role of the pastor is simply to keep the sheep that are already in the “pen” happy and not lose too many of them. Only 11 percent said, “The purpose of the church is to win the world for Jesus Christ.” As Pentecostals we believe that our purpose is to lead people to saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We also believe that God’s purpose in giving us the baptism in the Holy Spirit is so that we can be his witnesses. Therefore, a major part of our purpose in the building, and this neighborhood, is to reach out to people and share with them the love of Jesus in what we do and what we say. Everything that we do should be wrapped up in that main purpose. Is being a witness our only purpose? Of course not, but that’s where it all begins. Are you being a witness?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Abba Father’s Day

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Romans 8:15 (NLT)
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba,Father.” 

Today we are celebrating Father’s Day, which is a day in which we show our gratitude to all of the Dad’s in our lives. We sometimes get down when because our Dad is no longer with us, and some of us get discouraged because our Dad for some reason is not around. At times like this we need to be reminded that we always have a Heavenly Father who loves us regardless of our situation in life. One of the great preachers of our time is Dr. Fred Craddock. Craddock tells a story about vacationing with his wife one summer in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One night they found a quiet little restaurant, where they looked forward to a private meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. Craddock leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” He didn’t want anyone intruding on their privacy. But sure enough, the man did come over to their table. “Where you folks from?” he asked in a friendly voice. “Oklahoma,” Craddock answered. “Splendid state, I hear, although I’ve never been there,” the stranger said. “What do you do for a living?” “I teach homiletics at the graduate seminary of Phillips University,” Craddock replied. “Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a story to tell you.” And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with Craddock and his wife. Dr. Craddock said he groaned inwardly and thought to himself, “Oh, no! Here comes another preacher story! It seems like everybody has at least one.” The man stuck out his hand. “I’m Ben Hooper,” he said. “I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born, so I had a pretty hard time. When I started to school, my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and lunch time because the things they said to me cut me so deep. What was worse was going to town on Saturday afternoons and feeling like every eye was burning a hole through me, wondering just who my father was. “When I was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in the church on me. Just about the time I got to the door I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me. ‘Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’ he asked. I felt this big weight coming down on me. It was like a big black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down. But as he looked down at me, studying my face, he began to smile a big smile of recognition. ‘Wait a minute!’ he said. ‘I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.’ With that he slapped me across the rump and said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’ The old man looked across the table at Fred Craddock and said, “Those were the most important words anybody ever said to me, and I’ve never forgotten them.” With that, he smiled shook hands with Craddock and his wife, and moved on to another table to greet old friends. And as he walked away, Craddock – a native Tennessean himself – remembered from his studies of Tennessee history that on two occasions the people of Tennessee had elected to the office of governor men who had been born out of wedlock. One of them was a man named Ben Hooper. Happy Father’s Day!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark