Corrective Vision

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 10:15 (NLT)

But the voice spoke again: Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.

Walt Disney was a dreamer. His crowning vision was EPCOT; Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. He envisioned the perfect city of 20,000 using all of the most modern advances technology. One problem, Walt Disney died before his cream was ever realized. His dream was so big and complex and outside the box that no one else in the Disney company ever caught the dream and had no idea what to do after Walt was gone. What Walt Disney intended as a living breathing perfect city turned out only to be a entertainment center. Disney’s world would only become a place to visit.

Jesus left a blueprint for His church so vast, so marvelous, and so innovative for it to become a living breathing expanding organism that would permeate and transform the whole world.

The problem is, that as time went on, His followers lost the vision and couldn’t’ wrap their minds around such a magnificent plan. Rather than a community of loving, passionate follower of Christ dedicated to demonstrating the power of the Christ-transformed life in a dark world, they began to do what they knew best, build buildings and run organizations and develop entertainment centers that would hopefully draw the crowds to hear the story but miss the transforming power of Christ.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Stoking The Flames

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 8:29 (NLT)
29  The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”

In many Christian circles the Holy Spirit is neglected, forgotten, or misunderstood.  The One given to unite the body of Christ is the center of controversy.  So often Christian work is so rigidly programmed that it seems we need no longer depend on Him–yet Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” The late Dr. A. W. Tozer, author and pastor, said, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference” (The Holy Spirit: Missing, Citation: Alan Redpath in “Christian Life” magazine. Christianity Today, Vol. 29, no. 18). One of the things that I really love about the current television series AD is that it illustrates what the Holy Spirit did in the life of the New Testament church. Furthermore it illustrates that the early church accomplished what they only through the Spirit’s power. Think about it, a bunch of rag tag, uneducated (excluding Paul), blue-collar workers changed the world. The things that they were able to accomplish, even by today’s standards, are astounding! Now look at the church today, with all of our technological and transportation advantages, we are not only not having as big of an impact, but rather we are losing our influence. It saddens me to see so many churches, especially in the U.S, neglecting to utilize the power of the Holy Spirit to reach a lost and dying world. Yes, there are some signs of change in this regard, like the Southern Baptist recent acceptance of Spirit-Filled missionaries. But what has taken so long for this to happen? Why must we quench the Holy Spirit’s fire? When will we wake up and say, “Come Holy Spirit and fill us with your fire?” If ever there was a time when we needed the Holy Spirit’s power it is today. Let’s be like our bothers and sisters in Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America who are embracing the Holy Spirit! Let us echo the words of the Prophet Zechariah, “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies” (Zechariah 4:6, NLT).

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Do Miracles Still Exist?

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 9:34-35 (NLT)
34  Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!” And he was healed instantly. 35  Then the whole population of Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around, and they turned to the Lord.

It is no surprise that people in our society doubt the existence of miraculous healing today. In fact, there are probably more than a fair share of Christians who don’t believe that God still heals. However, this is one person that is convinced it still happens. In fact, I found a website that lists testimonies of people’s miraculous healings. One person said, “Fifteen years ago the doctors gave me 3 months to live. I had cancer of the lymph glands. I was healed in a prayer meeting where six people where healed out of six people attending (100% batting average for the Holy Spirit).”–Raynald D. Another person had this to say, “Twelve years ago the doctors gave me three weeks to live. I had ovarian cancer. God has better plans for my life. I give Him all the praise and glory. I received a miracle so don’t ever give up. God is still doing miracles. I am proof.”–Sharon H. Made up stories you say? Well I have a few of my own. In my 8 years at New Life I have experienced two miraculous healings among my congregation. One woman named Charlotte was healed of C.O.P.D., and recently a woman named Carol was healed of cancer. Make no mistake about it, we serve a God who still heals and does miracles. As Jesus said, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes” (Mark 9:23, NLT). Stop doubting and believe!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Hamming It Up

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 9:20 (NLT)
20  And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”

Mordecai Ham emerged as an evangelist from Kentucky at the turn of the century. He had a background in business and the study of law. From the very beginning his approach was zealous and blunt. Rather than sit and talk with Christians at revival sites, Ham insisted on being taken to the worst sinners in the community. On one occasion a non-believer hid in a cornfield, but Ham tracked him down. The man asked what his intentions were, and the evangelist said he was going to pray for God to kill him. When the man protested, Ham told him he shouldn’t be bothered, since he didn’t believe in God, anyway. But if there were a God, then death would be appropriate for a man who had poisoned his family’s spiritual prospects. The lost man begged him not to pray for his death, so Ham relented and prayed for his salvation. At the final meeting Ham baptized the man and his family. How many people hide from you?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

A Changed Man

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 9:19-21 (NLT)
19  Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20  And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” 21  All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”

 The Christian life is all about transformation. We can look at a classic example from Scripture in the Apostle Paul. He was so zealous that before his conversion he dedicated his life to stamping out the Christian church. The Book of Acts records his attitude towards them as uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest” (Acts 9:1, NLT). However, after a personal encounter with the risen Jesus his life was forever changed, and he became the greatest evangelist the world has ever seen. We can also look at someone in history a little closer to our time, John D. Rockefeller. John D. Rockefeller, Sr., was strong and husky when he was a youth. He early determined to earn money and drove himself to the limit. At age 33, he earned his first million dollars. At age 43, he controlled the biggest company in the world. At age 53, he was the richest man on earth and the world’s only billionaire. Then he developed a sickness called “alopecia,” where the hair of his head dropped off, his eyelashes and eyebrows disappeared, and he was shrunken like a mummy. His weekly income was one million dollars, but he digested only milk and crackers. He was so hated in Pennsylvania that he had to have bodyguards day and night. He could not sleep, stopped smiling long since, and enjoyed nothing in life. The doctors predicted he would not live past another year. The newspaper had gleefully written his obituary in advance—for convenience in sudden use. Those sleepless nights set him thinking. He realized with a new light that he “could not take one dime into the next world.” Money was not everything. God was displeased with his sinful life. Then and there he surrendered His life to Christ, repenting of his sins and pleading for God to change his heart. The next morning he awoke a new man. He began to help churches with his amassed wealth; the poor and needy were not overlooked. He established the Rockefeller Foundation whose funding of medical researches led to the discovery of penicillin and other wonder drugs. John D. began to sleep well, eat and enjoy life. You could say he began to live life to the fullest! The doctors had predicted he would not live over age 54. He lived to be 98 years old. Never underestimate the transforming power of the Gospel!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Just Sign Your Name

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.

There is a great article that illustrates the concept of grace written by Charles Stanley. “One of my more memorable seminary professors had a practical way of illustrating to his students the concept of grace. At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam with the caution to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. This caution was written on the exam as well. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough. The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard through out the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read, “You have a choice. You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment.” Wow? We sat there stunned. “Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A?” Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room. When I talked with the professor about it afterward, he shared some of the reactions he had received through the years. Some students began to take the exam without reading it all the way through, and they would sweat it out for the entire two hours of class time before reaching the last page. Others read the first two pages, became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally. One fellow, however, read the entire test, including the note at the end, but decided to take the exam anyway. He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade. And he did. He made a C+, but he could easily have had an A. This story illustrates many people’s reaction to God’s solution to sin. Some people look at God’s standard–moral and ethical perfection–and throw their hands up in surrender. “Why even try?” they tell themselves. I could never live up to all that stuff. Others are like the student who read the test through and was aware of the professor’s offer but took the test anyway. Unwilling to simply receive God’s gift of forgiveness, they set about to rack up enough points with God to earn it. But God’s grace truly is like the professor’s offer. It may seem unbelievable, but if we accept it, then, like the stunned students who accepted the professor’s offer, we, too, will discover that, Yes, God’s grace truly is free. All we have to do is accept it.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

In All Circumstances

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
16  Always be joyful. 17  Never stop praying. 18  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Corrie Ten Boom said, “Often I have heard people say, “How good God is! We prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic and look at the lovely weather!” Yes, God is good when He sends good weather. But God was also good when He allowed my sister, Betsie, to starve to death before my eyes in a German concentration camp. I remember one occasion when I was very discouraged there. Everything around us was dark, and there was darkness in my heart. I remember telling Betsie that I thought God had forgotten us. “No, Corrie,” said Betsie, “He has not forgotten us. Remember His Word “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.” Corrie concludes, “There is an ocean of God’s love available-there is plenty for everyone. May God grant you never to doubt that victorious love-whatever the circumstances.” You might say, “but it’s hard to give thanks for what I am going through right now! How am I supposed to be thankful in this mess?” God never said it would be easy, however, he did say that he would be with you no matter what you are going through, and with his help you will make it. So always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark