Defining Momenet

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Luke 22:42 (NLT)
42  “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Several years ago Jeff Strueker was a US Army Ranger posted in Mogadishu, Somalia. Today he is a master of divinity student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. For him Oct 3-4, 1993 were the defining moments of his life. He was one of the troops called on to go into the center Mogadisu to secure a building as part of a larger operation. The movie “Black Hawk Down” came out about a year ago chronicling the events of those two days. In the first trip into the city he and most of his friends got out through a hailstorm of bullets. One man was shot and killed. It was then that he felt the fear. He began to pray. The Humvee was painted with blood as they escaped the city with their dead and wounded comrades. The news soon worsened. A helicopter was shot down. The team received orders to return to the melee. Yet, his men understandably couldn’t fight in the bloody Humvees. Struecker spent the next 30 to 45 minutes cleaning. No running water; only sponges and buckets. “I began to talk to the Lord. I thought I was going to die,” he said. Feeling his fear grow, he began to ask God to protect him. But his prayer soon changed.  “I’ll never forget this for the rest of my life. … A scene appeared in the landscape of my mind. The scene was Jesus in the Garden. … He clearly and honestly knew that he was going to die. … He also showed that he did not want to go to that cross and die. And I knew that I didn’t want to die that night. But Jesus courageously said, ’God, not my will, but yours be done.’  “If I die tonight, that’s fine, as long as your will is done,” Struecker said. For the first time in his life, Struecker — who had been a Christian since age 13 — was prepared to die. “God spoke to my mind and my heart and said, ’I’ve been protecting you every day of your life,’” Struecker said. “He did not tell me, ’You will live through the night.’ He simply showed me my life has always been in his hands.” Struecker and his men returned to the field of fire in Mogadishu that night and fought with a God-given courage. The sergeant first class would later be awarded the Bronze Star Medal “V” for valor. “I fought differently that night than everybody else … because of my faith,” Struecker said. God had given him a “supernatural peace” in the midst of pandemonium, further firefights and an ambush that nearly blew his Humvee off the road. “I began to understand God’s omnipotent power,” Struecker said. “He was orchestrating every single bullet that was fired that night. … The peace that I had was not only for my own life, but for the lives of my soldiers. If any of them were to get shot, then that was part of God’s sovereign plan.” And God chose to preserve Struecker that night (CITATION: http://www.family.org/teenguys/breakmag/features/

a0023481.html).

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

A Valuable Lesson

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Romans 12:21 (NLT)
21  Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” [Albert Einstein 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity. He is regarded as the father of modern physics.] Albert Einstein’s words were spoken at a time when evil seemed to have an upper hand in the world. Communism and Fascism marched across much of Europe, while the rest of the world was left to choose how to respond. The same struggle continues today. By God’s design, there continues to be enough evil in the world to test those who have it in their power to do good. And by God’s design, there continues to be enough good in the world to overcome those who have it in their hearts to do evil. So, the question is this: Will those who love good do what is in their power to do to overcome evil? God does not place the fate of the world in the hands of evil men, but in the hands of those who can and must do something to stop them. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’ (Romans 12:21). Our church learned a valuable lesson this week; sometimes it’s a challenge to minister to people who come from a different mindset than ours. We had the privilege this past week to minister to a group of children who aren’t used to being in church, and are in some ways very different than those we are used to having with us. At times it was a challenge to deal with them in a manner that is in keeping with the character of Christ. However, in my opinion we did an exemplary job with the young people we had as our guests, and in doing so we won many of them over. In fact, a number of them were asking, “can I come to this church all the time?” We had the choice of showing love or being harsh with them; of overcoming a difficult situation by doing good. The fruit of our actions have only just begun to materialize. When you show the love of Christ people respond in a positive manner.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Holy Boldness

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 4:31 (NLT)
After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

In the original television series, Superman, our favorite super hero would confidently posture himself, legs spread, fists on his hips, chest pushed forward, while he stared down the barrel of a gun.  As the bullets bounced off his chest, Superman would smile, with no thought of retreat.  Then something would happen that defies explanation.  Once the rounds were spent, the bad guy, in desperation, would hurl the gun at Superman, and the caped super hero would duck!!!  Superman, the man who was fearless in the face of oncoming bullets, would cower to avoid being hit by an empty gun! Just like Superman, we cower and duck at things that shouldn’t intimidate us.  As believers, we are perfectly loved and accepted by an all powerful, all knowing, all everything God. And as if this weren’t enough, we are promised “all things will work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). So, what should cause us to fear?  What else matters when compared to the assurance of God’s love? In truth, God has given us every reason to face life boldly–with our legs spread, fists on hips, chest out. Nevertheless, we duck at small things.  We fret over a setback in our plans, or become discouraged at a disappointing turn of events, or we hesitate to speak boldly of our faith for fear of the reaction it might incite. Our fears send us reeling, even though we live in this world with the certainty of God’s eternal promises.  Life makes us flinch in a thousand little ways.  Like Superman, we duck when we should fearlessly stare them all down. On the night that Jesus was betrayed, Peter cowered in fear of being associated with Him. “I don’t know the man,” he claimed. Three times he denied his relationship with Christ. Three times he flinched as the empty gun of man’s threats was hurled his way. But years later Peter would eventually overcome his fear of empty guns. As a more mature, more courageous follower of Christ he would write, “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16).  In other words, Peter is telling us to face life boldly–with our legs spread, fists on hips, chest out, fully assured of God’s great love!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

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

n705062799_1371117_4918

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