The Power Of Giving Thanks

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Something to reflect on as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner:

If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks? Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621. They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, “First, make thy will.” The crossing was very rough and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home – Plymouth, they called it – winter had set in. The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick. “That which was most sad and lamentable,” Governor William Bradford later recalled, “was that in two or three months’ time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases…. There died sometimes two or three of a day.”

When spring came, Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops were dismal. Supplies ran out, but their sponsors in London refused to send more. The first time the Pilgrims sent a shipment of goods to England, it was stolen by pirates. If you had been there in 1621 – if you had seen half your friends die, if you had suffered through famine, malnutrition, and sickness, if you had endured a year of heartbreak and tragedy – would you have felt grateful?

However, they were thankful! In 1621, Edward Winslow, one of the fifty or so members of the Plymouth colony, wrote these words, describing the first harvest festival: “Our harvest of corn came in well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian Corn, and our Barley crop was also good, but our crop of peas wasn’t worth the gathering – they were sown too late, and although they came up very well and blossomed, the sun parched them in the blossom. Once our harvest was brought in, our Governor sent four men out to hunt fowl, in order that we might have a special celebration, rejoicing together over the fruit of our labors. Those four hunters, in one day, killed enough fowl to feed our Company for almost a week. We were joined, in our celebration, by many Indians: the great Indian King Massasoyt, along with some ninety Indian men, joined us for three days of entertainment and feasting. The Indians themselves went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the Plantation and gave as gifts to our Governor, and to our Captain, and others. And although our harvests are not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish that you could be partakers of our plenty.”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Malice Toward None

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 13:33-35 (NLT)

33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you cant come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.” – (Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865).

These two quotes, one from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the other from the greatest President in our nation’s history, are ones that our country needs to hear right now. As we sit in the after effects of this past week’s election we see hate being spewed on both sides of the political fence. One the one side you have those who were on the winning side gloating over a political victory in probably the most heated election in our lifetime, and the other side expressing hate, violence and disrespect for our nation and its flag. Excuse me, but I thought we were the UNITED States of America? Whatever side of this campaign you were on can’t we just respect and love one another as Americans? Jesus certainly would not advocate hatred, violence and disrespect. Come on America we can do better than this!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

At The Crossroads

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Psalm 33:12 (NLT)
What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord,
    whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

While I realize we are all tired of all the political adds that we have been bombarded with in the past several months, and sick of all the mud slinging from politicians on all sides. However, we must come to grips with the fact that our nation is at a crossroads, and this election will determine the course of our country for generations to come. Therefore, I think we should reflect of the words of perhaps the greatest leader our nation has ever produced. In the midst of a Civil War, President Lincoln 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). Lincoln recognized that our problems are more spiritual and moral than they are anything else. His words are just as true today as they were in his time. Let’s hope that we take them to heart.

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Real Problem

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 8:10-11 (NLT)

Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” 11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

 In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis helps us gain balance when he says, “If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity (sexual sin) as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual. The pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and backbiting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me. . . they are the animal self and the diabolical self; and the diabolical self is the worst of the two. That is why a cold self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.” Then he adds, “But of course it is better to be neither ”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

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