The Meaning Of Life

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 17:3 New Living Translation (NLT)
3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.

In Act 5 scene 5 of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the character Macbeth has heard that the queen is dead and he knows his own death is imminent. At this time he delivers his famous soliloquy:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, Out, brief candle
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Is Macbeth right? Is life nothing but a shadow having no substance, no meaning? Writers and philosophers since recorded time have tried to answer the question. I don’t think any of them have been successful in answering the question to everyone’s satisfaction. Someone once said that “Trying to speak about the ultimate reality is like sending a kiss through a messenger.” I understand their point: Something of its truth is lost in the translation. What is the meaning of life? A philosophical question to be sure but this is not only the philosopher’s question. It is a genuinely human question and therefore a question that we all ask. It might be a question that is asked in despair or hope, out of cynicism, or out of sincere curiosity and a deep desire to have goals and guidance in life. However we raise the question about the meaning of life, it is our most basic and fundamental question. And so it comes as no surprise that Jesus deals with this question and answers it. Surprisingly, the answer is not given in the context of an argument with the Jewish leaders or in a discussion with his disciples, and it is not given in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus deals with so many fundamental issues. It is telling that Jesus deals with the meaning of life in the context of prayer. It shows that our lives are rapped up in our relationship with God. We discover true meaning in this life when our lives are centered in Jesus.

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

We Are Not All Called To Be Billy Graham, But…

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Mark 16:15
New Living Translation (NLT)
15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”

Albert McMakin was a 24-year-old farmer who came to faith in Christ in 1934. He was so full of enthusiasm that he filled a truck with people and took them to a meeting to hear about Jesus. There was a good-looking farmer’s son whom he was especially keen to get to a meeting, but this man was hard to persuade. He was too busy falling in and out of love with different girls. He did not seem to be attracted to Christianity. Eventually, Albert McMakin managed to persuade him to come by asking him to drive the truck. When they arrived, Albert’s guest decided to go in and was “spellbound” and began to have thoughts that he had never known before. He went back night after night until one night he went forward and gave his life to Jesus Christ. Since then, the young truck driver has spoken to at least 250 million people about Christ during his lifetime, and went on to become a spiritual advisor to the last nine US Presidents. The young truck driver was, of course, Billy Graham. We are not all called to be Billy Grahams but we can be Albert McMakins, bringing our friends to Jesus (From “Questions of Life” by Nicky Gumbel, p.193-194).

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

For The Love Of Children

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Luke 18:15-16 (NLT)

15 One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him.16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Dont stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.

 Recently I came across a true story that happened during the Holocaust of the Second World War. Solomon Rosenberg, his wife and their 2 sons were arrested, together with Rosenburg’s mother and father for the crime of being Jews. They were placed in a Nazi concentration camp. It was a labour camp, and the rules were simple. “As long as you can do your work, you are permitted to live. When you become too weak to do your work, then you will be exterminated.” Rosenberg watched as his mother and father were marched off to their deaths. He knew that the next would be his youngest son, David – because David had always been a frail child. Every evening, Rosenberg came back into the barracks after each day of hard labour and searched for the faces of his family. When he found them they would huddle together, embrace one another and thank God for another day of life. One day Rosenberg came back and didn’t see those familiar faces. He finally discovered his oldest son, Joshua, in a corner, huddled, weeping and praying. He said, “Josh, tell me it’s not true.” Joshua turned and said, “It is true, Dad. Today David was not strong enough to do his work. So they came for him.” “But where is your mother?” asked Mr. Rosenberg. “Oh Dad,” he said, “When they came for David, he was afraid and he cried. So Mum said, ‘There is nothing to be afraid of, David,’ and she took his hand and went with him.” That illustrates a mother’s love– a love so strong that it chooses to give up life so her child can be comforted. However, it also demonstrates for us the love that God has for children. God the Father was willing to send his Son to die for these little ones so that they could be saved. In this next week we need to remember telling the little ones about Jesus and his love is our only goal! It doesn’t matter if everything goes perfectly as long as these children hear about and receive the love of Jesus.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

You Are His Plan

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Matthew 10:18-20 (NLT)

18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, dont worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Over the next several months we will be bombarded with political adds, convention speeches, as well as rumors and complaints about the candidates. If you had the opportunity to speak to either Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump what would you tell them? Would you vent about the condition of our country or why you disagree with their political views? There is a legend which recounts the return of Jesus to glory after His time on earth. Even in heaven He bore the marks of His earthly pilgrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached Him and said, “Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there.”  “I did,” He said. “And,” continued Gabriel, “do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?” “Oh, no,” said Jesus, “not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know.” Gabriel was perplexed. “Then what have you done,” he asked, “to let everyone know about your love for them?” Jesus said, “I’ve asked Peter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell other people about me. Those who are told will in turn tell other people about me, and my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done.” Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He knew well what poor stuff men were made of. “Yes,” he said, “but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down through the centuries people just don’t tell others about you? Haven’t you made any other plans?” And Jesus answered, “I haven’t made any other plans. I’m counting on them.” Twenty-one centuries later He still has no other plan. He’s counting on you and me to continue His work of reconciling the world to Himself, to continue the work so many have faithfully carried out before us. Will we do so well? You see the best thing that we could do for either candidate is to tell them about Jesus because he is the only one with the power to change anything!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Embrace The Grace

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

At a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God took human form in Jesus. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead. Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, arm full of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what’s all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We’re debating what’s unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that’s easy,” answered Lewis. “It’s Grace.” The room fell silent. Lewis continued that Christianity uniquely claims God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim. After a moment someone commented that Lewis had a point, Buddhists, for example, follow an eight-fold path to enlightenment. It’s not a free ride. Hindus believe in karma, that your actions continually affect the way the world will treat you; that there is nothing that comes to you not set in motion by your actions. Someone else observed the Jewish code of the law implies God has requirements for people to be acceptable to him and in Islam God is a God of Judgment not a God of love. You live to appease him. At the end of the discussion everyone concluded Lewis had a point. Only Christianity dares to proclaim God’s love is unconditional. An unconditional love that we call grace. Christians boldly proclaim that grace really has precious little to do with us, our inner resolve, or our lack of inner resolve. Rather, grace is all about God and God freely giving to us the gifts of forgiveness, mercy, and love. Embrace the grace!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

National Day Of Repentance

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT)
1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

The story I am sharing with you today is one that I have seen numerous times before. It actually took place over two decades ago, however, it is still relevant today, and in fact, things maybe worse now….
Joe Wright is the pastor of Central Christian Church in Wichita, KS. On January 23, 1996, He was asked to be the guest chaplain for the Kansas State House in Topeka. He prayed a prayer of repentance that was written by Bob Russell, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. According to an article in the Kansas City Star from January 24, 1996, his prayer stirred controversy, and one member of the legislative body walked out. Others criticized the prayer. The controversy didn’t end there. Later that year in the Colorado House, Republican representative Mark Paschall angered lawmakers by using Joe Wright’s prayer as the invocation. Some members there also walked out in protest. Paul Harvey got a hold of the prayer and read it on his program. He got more requests for copies of it than any other thing he had ever done. Here’s what he prayed: “Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that:We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it a choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the airwaves with profanity and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will… Amen

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

A Mother’s Prayer

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

[ Hannah’s Prayer of Praise ] Then Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me (1 Samuel 2:1, NLT).

The year was 1820 and Peter Richley was a grateful man. He had survived one of the strangest and most harrowing events known to mankind. The ship which he had been traveling on sank. He was rescued. By some strange twist of circumstance, however, this ship sank. He was rescued again. But, this third ship sank likewise. He was rescued for a third time. Yet, his fourth ship of passage soon sank. And unbelievably, he was rescued for a fourth time, but this fifth ship sank as well. It would have been laughable had it not been so serious. On the high seas, however, he floated with the serene confidence that somehow God did not want him to die. And sure enough, as if on cue, another ship came by and answered his call for help. This ocean liner, The City of Leeds, was named after it’s British city of origin. It was bound from England to Australia and traveled the same sea lane as Peter Richley’s downed ships. The crew of The City of Leeds hoisted Peter aboard. Dry clothing was provided to Peter. The ship’s doctor gave him a cursory exam, pronounced him fit, and then asked an unusual favor.
“There’s a lady on board who booked passage to Australia,” the doctor explained. “She’s looking for her son who disappeared years ago. She’s dying and she’s asking to see her son. She knows everybody on board and since you’re the only newcomer, would you pretend to be her son?” Peter agreed. After all, his life had now been saved for the fifth time. He followed the doctor below deck and entered into a cabin. There on a small bed lay a frail woman with silvered-hair. She was obviously suffering from a very high fever. Deliriously, she was crying out. “Please God. Let me see my son before I die. I must see my son!” The ship’s doctor gently pushed the young man toward the bed. Soon, however, Peter Richley began sobbing. For lying there on that bed was the reason that he couldn’t seem to die. Here was the lifeline that had kept him from drowning five times. For lying on that bed was none other than Sarah Richley—who had prayed for ten years to reconciled to her son, Peter. The ship’s doctor stood in amazement as the young man fell down by the bed and embraced the sick woman. “I’m here mom! I’m here. It’s me!” Within days the fever had subsided and his mother awakened to find an answered prayer seated on the edge of her bed. Keep praying Mom’s; God is listening!

In Christ,
Pastor Mark