Through The Eyes Of God

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

 John 3:30 (NLT) 

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

In our society today it is often difficult for us to see ourselves in a realistic light. We tend to see ourselves as either more than we are or lesser than we should see ourselves. On the one hand, people degrade themselves and think that they are worthless either because of their success in life or because of their looks. A young man who does not have the body of a popular movie actor or a professional athlete may see them selves as not worthy of love and acceptance. A young woman in our society judges her self worth based on weather they can fit into the latest fashions or look like a model. Then there is the other extreme; where we see ourselves as the most important person on earth. Like the football quarterback who was a star in college, but when he comes to the pros thinks that he is good enough to not put in the work to become a great quarterback on the next level. You know the ones that now have tons of money to throw around and party until dawn, but when game day comes around they are unprepared, and as a result of their lack of preparation, unsuccessful. Either one of these extremes is inaccurate and in there own way prideful. We must begin to look at ourselves as God sees us. John the Baptist certainly had every reason to be prideful in his day. He was the hot shot preacher that people were flocking to in the wilderness, and many wanted to put him on a pedestal that even he himself said he didn’t belong on (John 1:19-28). Furthermore, when his followers tried to elevate him to a lofty status he said that Jesus must become greater and he must become less. What he said was not belittling himself, rather just seeing himself in the proper light. He emphatically stated that he was not the Messiah but one crying out in the wilderness to prepare a way for the Lord. As a note on a Pastor’s desk said, “I’m just a NOBODY telling EVERYBODY about SOMEBODY who can save ANYBODY!” Let’s begin to see ourselves through the eyes of God.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on February 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Romans 5:6-8 (NLT)
6  When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

We are preparing to celebrate yet another holiday that is more for the benefit of the greeting cards and flower industries than anything else. However, there are some good aspects of Valentine’s Day. Whenever we celebrate the gift of love and those whom we love it is also a good thing. Yet we often need reminded of what it really means to love. This story that I found this week I think shows what love really means. “During the U.S. Civil War, conscription was not absolute. The drafted man could always hire a substitute if he could afford it. Starting in 1862, the U.S. government allowed this escape from military service on the theory that, so long as each name drawn from the wheel produced a man, it made no difference whether the drafted person or one hired to take his place appeared for service. (Answers.com). There is a story about a farmer named Blake who was drafted. He was deeply troubled about leaving his family because his wife had died and there would be no one to support and take care of his children in his absence. The day before he was to leave for the army, his neighbor Charlie Durham came to visit him. “Blake,” he said, “I’ve been thinking. You’re needed here at home, so I’ve decided to go in your place.” The farmer was so overwhelmed that for a few moments he was speechless. The offer seemed too good to be true. He grasped the hand of the young man and praised God for this one who was willing to go as his substitute. Sadly, Charlie was shot and killed in his first battle. When the farmer heard the bad news, he immediately rode out to the battlefield. He found the body of his friend and arranged to have it buried in the churchyard near the spot where they had often stopped to talk after the services. On a piece of marble he carved the inscription with his own hands. It was roughly done, but with every blow of the hammer on the chisel, tears fell from his eyes. He placed the marker on the grave of his substitute. The inscription read: “He died for me.” Isn’t that what love is really about? The reality is “there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend.” That my friend is what Jesus did for all of us, and the best part is all we have to do is accept it. Have you accepted His love?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on February 11, 2015 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Times They Are A Changing…For The Worse!

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT)
18  Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

We live in a culture that is redefining what is sexually permissible. Earlier this year in the United Kingdom, Peter and Hazelmary Bull were found guilty of discrimination because they allowed only married couples to share a bed at their small hotel. A homosexual couple sued the Bulls because they would not allow them to stay in a room with a single bed. As cultural commentator Al Mohler pointed out, what makes this case particularly troubling is the nature of the judge’s decision. Judge Andrew Rutherford ruled that the Bulls would have to sacrifice their Christian convictions if they intend to own and manage a hotel. The real bomb in the judge’s ruling was in this statement: “Whatever may have been the position in past centuries, it is no longer the case that our laws must or should automatically reflect the Judeo-Christian position.” This is a growing view all over the world. The fact is that even though the world may view the Bible as antiquated and outdated, Christians must stand firm on biblical truth. God has defined what sexual sin is, and we must not allow the world to re-define it to fit any and every perversion.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on February 4, 2015 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Trouble With Submission

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Ephesians 5:21-24 (NLT)
21  And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22  For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23  For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24  As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

In this Sunday’s message we are continuing our look at Love and Marriage from a Christian perspective. In doing so we need to deal with the issue of submission. Unfortunately this is a topic that is most often misunderstood both outside and inside the church. The following story gives one of those misunderstandings. Jill Briscoe had this to share about what submission is not. “Stuart and I brought our families and religious heritages to our marriage. My father, a quiet, gentle man, considered himself head of his home: protector, defender, and provider. My mom was a sweet, Scottish- born Presbyterian. She believed in the sovereignty of God and her husband. My father adored my mother, put his considerable business assets into her name, and looked to her to raise the children. When my sister came of age, my father supported her when she became an excellent car mechanic and raced cars. Eventually she took her place at his side as partner in his successful car business. Stuart’s family was strict, conservative evangelical. His father was an elder in a small local assembly of believers, and he took seriously his responsibility to rule the household well. He considered himself the authority in his family, while his wife, a bright, articulate, efficient lady, considered herself in subjection to her husband in everything, carrying those convictions to her dress, her hair style, and silence in the presence of men at the church.

Newly converted at a college in Cambridge and having just been introduced to Stuart’s family, I remember wondering greatly about this amazing mode of doing things. I sensed an unconscious frustration of unexplored desires and frustrated gifts in my mother-in-law. It was as if those gifts sat meekly inside her heart with eyes downcast and wearing a hat. In that moment as a new believer, I believe I stumbled on an important truth of what submission isn’t. Submission isn’t sitting down on the outside while you’re standing up on the inside” (What Submission Isn’t,” Jill Briscoe, “Hilarious Hupotasso,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 117). Something that we should notice about what Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church. He says we should “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We need to submit to one another because submission has to do with mutual respect and not keeping some under our thumb. It’s not about lording it over someone; rather it is about showing the proper respect to one another because of our reverence for Christ and his Word. Once we figure that out we begin to submit out of love and not out of force.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on January 28, 2015 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Keeping The Fire Burning

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)
1  If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
3  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Recently, a sweet lady in my congregation asked me if I would preach a sermon series on marriage and relationships in preparation for Valentine’s Day. In keeping with that request, and accompanying that series, I decided to give some thoughts here on that theme. Former First Lady Barbara Bush said, “As important as your obligation as a doctor, a lawyer or a business leader may be, your human connections with your spouse, your children and your friends are the most important investment you will ever make. At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal, but you will regret time not spent with your spouse, your children or your friends” (Barbara Bush, 1994 Commencement Address, Wellesley College, quoted in Current Thoughts and Trends, January 1995, 12). It is hard to stay in love with someone that you do not make your highest priority. The Apostle Paul teaches us that love is the highest of all gifts and virtues, and therefore, the foundation of all relationships. We can get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to show love to our spouse by giving them the quality time that they deserve. Making your spouse the most important person on your list of priorities ought to be something we strive for every day. This is exemplified by our relationship with the Lord. We show our love for the Lord by spending time with him in prayer, reading Scripture, and attending church. Consequently, we show our love for our spouse by spending quality time with them. To all you married folks, when was the last time you had a date night? If you want to keep the fire burning you have to put some wood on the fire!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on January 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Foundation Of Love

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord!

John 15:13 (NLT)
13  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Now that the Christmas season has past and all of the Christmas decorations are put away, we turn our attention to Valentine’s Day. This is a day were we celebrate the gift of love, both in a romantic way and in a general way to one another. In keeping with this theme I came across this story of ultimate love I wanted to share with you. It was February 1941, Auschwitz, Poland. Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan priest put in the infamous death camp for helping Jews escape Nazi terrorism. Months went by and in desperation an escape took place. The camp rule was enforced. Ten people would be rounded up randomly and herded into a cell where they would die of starvation and exposure as a lesson against future escape attempts. Names were called. A Polish Jew Frandishek Gasovnachek was called. He cried, “Wait, I have a wife and children!” Kolbe stepped forward and said, “I will take his place.”Kolbe was marched into the cell with nine others where he managed to live until August 14. This story was chronicled on an NBC news special several years ago. Gasovnachek, by this time 82, was shown telling this story while tears streamed down his cheeks. A mobile camera followed him around his little white house to a marble monument carefully tended with flowers. The inscription read: IN MEMORY OF MAXIMILIAN KOLBE

HE DIED IN MY PLACE.

Every day Gasovnachek lived since 1941, he lived with the knowledge, “I live because someone died for me.” Every year on August 14 he travels to Auschwitz in memory of Kolbe. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). What a great illustration of what Jesus has done for us in dying on the cross in our place. Whether the love be between a husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, or just between friends, this is the foundation that we must build upon.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on January 14, 2015 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Seeing The Heart

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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.”

When God looks at the human heart, he knows what he’s looking at. 1 Samuel 16:7 suggests that we don’t and can’t, even when we look at our own hearts. The results of not seeing the heart for what it is can be disastrous. An Illinois man died waiting for a donor kidney a month after his transplant operation was halted when doctors found a Chicago organ bank employee sent a heart to the downstate hospital by mistake. The patient was in the operating room May 12 undergoing surgery when the mistake was discovered. Doctors closed the man’s incision and he died Sunday still awaiting a replacement kidney. “They got him ready for surgery, took him in to the operating room, did the incision, got all his nerve endings prepared, and when they went to open the box, it was a heart. They had labeled in wrong,” Daniel DeVore Jr., a friend of the deceased patient told Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times. A spokesman for the Regional Organ Bank of Illinois said, an organ-recovery coordinator mislabeled two organs. The kidney should have gone to Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Ill., and a heart to a Chicago research laboratory. The surgeon called the organ bank but the lab had already opened the package containing the kidney and it was no longer suitable for transplant. John Sherman, 31, who had been waiting for a kidney for 13 years, went back on the organ waiting list. DeVore said Sherman was crushed and devastated by the mix-up. He died during the weekend.

We can take two things from this story. First, only God knows the human heart, and therefore, only God is capable of seeing what is inside someone else. So we shouldn’t suppose that we know them at that level because only God can. Second, since God knows what is in our heart we cannot hide anything from him. We may be able to hide it from others, even those close to us, but we cannot hide it from God. Since this is the case we should seek not to discern what others are at the core, but rather ask God to reveal to us what we are like at the core.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on January 7, 2015 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pray Like You Mean It!

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Nehemiah 1:4 (NLT)
4  When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.

George Muller was born in Prussia on September 27, 1805. His father was a collector of taxes and George seemed to inherit his father’s ability with figures. When Muller was converted to Christ the many recurring statements of Jesus for us “to ask” impressed him. At this point in Muller’s life he and his wife launched into a daring experiment. First, they gave away all of their household goods. The next step was even more daring, he refused all regular salary from the small mission he had been serving. He then set out to establish an orphan home to care for the homeless children of England.

The first home was dedicated in a rented building on April 21, 1836. Within a matter of days, 43 orphans were being cared for. Muller and his co-workers decided their experiment would be set up with the following guidelines:

1- No funds would ever be solicited.

2- No debts were ever to be incurred.

3- No money contributed for a specific purpose would ever be used for any other purpose.

4- All accounts would be audited annually.

5- No ego-pandering by the publication of donor’s names.

6- No “names” of prominent people would be sought for the board or to advertise the institution.

7- The success of the orphanage would be measured not by the numbers served or by the amount of money taken in, but by God’s blessing on the work, which Muller expected to be in direct proportion to the time spent in prayer.

When the first building was constructed, Muller and his friends remained true to their convictions. The public was amazed when a second building was opened six months after the first. They kept concentrating on prayer and eventually there were five new buildings, 110 workers, and 2,050 orphans being cared for. George Muller not only counted on God to provide, but he believed that God would provide abundantly. For over 60 years Muller recorded every specific prayer request and the results. Muller was responsible for the care of 9,500 orphans during his life. These children never went without a meal. Muller never asked for help from anyone but God. $7,500,000 came to him over the course of his life and he vows it was all in answer to believing prayer. Are you willing to pray and trust God like George Muller? If you want he received try doing what he did!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Published in: on December 23, 2014 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lessons From Angels and Shepherds

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Luke 2:8-12 (NLT)
8  That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9  Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10  but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
11  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12  And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

 This week I discovered a great Christmas devotional from one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. He said, “The announcement went first to the shepherds. They didn’t ask God if he was sure he knew what he was doing. Had the angel gone to the theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had he gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the successful, they would have first looked at their calendars. So he went to the shepherds. Men who didn’t have a reputation to protect or an ax to grind or a ladder to climb. Men who didn’t know enough to tell God that angels don’t sing to sheep and that messiahs aren’t found wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough. A small cathedral outside Bethlehem marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus. Behind a high alter in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps. You can enter the main edifice and admire the ancient church. You can also enter the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floor recognizes the birth of the King. There is one stipulation, however. You have to stoop. The door is so low you can’t go in standing up. The same is true of the Christ. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees. So…. while the theologians were sleeping, and the elite were dreaming, and the successful were snoring, the meek were kneeling. They were kneeling before the One only the meek will see. They were kneeling in front of Jesus.”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on December 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas Decorations For All Year Round

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Mark 1:14-15 (NLT)
14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

Not too many years ago newspapers carried the story of Al Johnson, a Kansas man who repented, who came to faith in Jesus Christ. What made his story so remarkable was not his conversion, but the fact that as a result of his newfound faith in Christ, he confessed to a bank robbery he had participated in when he was nineteen years old. Because the statute of limitations on the case had run out, Johnson could not be prosecuted for the offense. But because of his complete and total change of heart, he not only confessed his crime, he voluntarily repaid his share of the stolen money! That’s repentance – radical reconstruction of the heart. Of all the decorations you have, this one is the most important of them all. It’s invisible, because it first takes place in your heart. The Holy Spirit changes you through the Word, and through baptism. It’s visible, because you become empowered to show your repentance in your life – just like that former bank robber. And unlike our other Christmas decorations, repentance is something that you and I will leave up all year round (Today in the Word, April, 1989, 13). During this season of Advent, the time of his coming, let’s remember that Jesus didn’t just come to be born, rather he came to die for us. We need to take some time of reflection and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the areas in our lives in which we need to repent. Let us not just prepare for Christmas, but rather let us prepare our hearts to meet Jesus!

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Published in: on December 10, 2014 at 9:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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