Better Equipped

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 18:25-26 (NLT)

25 He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about Johns baptism. 26 When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.

 When Tina and I were in Bible college we were pretty popular people. However, the reason we were so popular had to do with theology. You see we were one of the few Pentecostals on campus as we attended a non-Pentecostal school. As a result, whenever anyone had questions about the Holy Spirit or charismatic activity (which usually centered around speaking in tongues) they came to us for answers. Well recently I discovered that not much has changed in the nearly 20 years since we attended college, because I still get responses from former classmates on Facebook about Pentecostal theology. Often times they begin their message with “I need some Pentecostal prayer,” or something to that nature. However, very recently I have been contacted by a couple from college that is actually attending an Assemblies of God church in Indianapolis. Not surprisingly, they are having some struggles with our teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and more specifically, speaking in tongues. Both of them are having a hard time because they misunderstand what we mean concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit. To them it seems that we are saying that if you haven’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit then you don’t have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. However, that is not the case at all. On the contrary, we believe that everyone receives the Holy Spirit at conversion, and we refer to his a regeneration. But we also believe that there is another work of the Holy Spirit which is separate and subsequent to salvation. This second work, called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is for empowerment for ministry. One of the great illustrations of this belief comes from the story of Apollos in Acts 18. In this chapter Apollos is referred to as an enthusiastic and gifted speaker who taught about Jesus accurately. Yet it also tells us that he only knew about the baptism of John, a baptism of water. When Priscilla and Acquila meet him it says that they “explained the way of God more accurately.” The reason that I believe that this had to do with the baptism of the Holy Spirit is that in the next chapter Paul encounters some disciples of John the Baptist who only knew about John’s baptism and had never heard of the Holy Spirit. So Paul lays hands on them and they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by the fact that they spoke in tongues. So what I am saying is this, Apollos was a gifted speaker who had great zeal for the Gospel, but after learning about and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit he was better equipped for ministry. That’s the purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it better equips us to do God’s work.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

When To Move On

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 18:6 (NLT)
6 But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”

One of the great challenges of witnessing is knowing when to move on. There will be some people that simply will not listen no matter what we say to them. Even if we use the most creative means, consistently show them the love of Christ, and pray for them daily, their hearts may still remain as hard as stone. So what do we do? I remember a time in my first pastorate when there were some people in the church who were treating myself and my family is a very disrespectful manner. We had a congregational meeting with the Presbyter, who at that time was Mike Massey, who recently went to be with the Lord. The meeting was not pretty! It consisted of one side of the church standing up and complaining about me, and someone from the other side standing up and sticking up for me. This went on for an hour and a half (to me it seemed an eternity). At the conclusion of the meeting, Mike put his arms around me and said, “Mark, if the Holy Spirit hasn’t changed them, you and I aren’t going to.” It was some of the best advice that I was ever given in my nearly 20 years of ministry. Sometimes we just have to move on! That’s what Paul did here in Acts 18, they wouldn’t listen to his message, so he decided to move on. He made the decision to go to the Gentiles who would listen. Does that mean that he gave up on the Jews? I don’t believe that he did. I’m sure that he continued to pray for them and ask God to change them, but as far as continuing to try and convince them he had moved on. He wasn’t going to waste his time and efforts in ministry to those who wouldn’t listen. How do you come to this decision? Ask the Holy Spirit to show when it’s time to move on, and he will show you what to do.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

What Do You Do When Someone Doesn’t Believe In The Bible?

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 17:30-31 (NLT)
30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

Max Lucado says, “The Bible has been banned, burned, scoffed, and ridiculed. Scholars have mocked it as foolish. Kings have branded it as illegal. A thousand times over, the grave has been dug and the dirge has begun, but somehow the Bible never stays in the grave. Not only has it survived, it has thrived. It’s the single most popular book in all of history. It has been the best-selling book in the world for years.” However, we live in a society that has lost it’s respect for the Bible and no longer believes in its authority. So what do you do when you are talking to some one about the Lord and they don’t believe in the Bible? That’s simple, you use things that they do believe in to get your point across. That’s what the Apostle Paul did in Athens. Other times he used Scripture when he was talking to Jews who accepted Scripture as the word of God, but in Athens he was talking to Gentiles who had no regard for the Hebrew Scriptures. So what Paul did was he quoted some of their own writers, poets and philosophers to tell them about Jesus. This will require some work on your part, and you will have to do some research to find out what they believe and why that belief is contrary to what the Bible teaches. We will have to be well versed in what people believe and be able to refute that belief as a believer in Christ. One book I highly recommend is a book called The Universe Next Door by James Sire. It goes through some of the major belief systems of the world from a Christian perspective. Remember “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Cor. 15:58).

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Preparation Is Everything

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)

15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

Have you ever been sitting in the break room at work or somewhere during lunchtime with your friend or coworker, and begin to eat your lunch that you brought from home? Your friend or coworkers lunch is made from homemade fluffy bread, that’s a two-hander meal, stacked with fresh lettuce, chopped tomatoes, a slice of cheddar cheese with a dill pickle on the side…Not to mention the side items of a small dish of macaroni salad or chopped fruit, topped with a slice of cake wrapped in cellophane. While yours is just a couple of pieces of flattened bread with bologna and cheese and a smear of mayo, a stale bag of chips that has been hiding in the back of your pantry, and a coagulated plastic dish of pharmaceutically sealed jello pudding. As you look at their lunch, and discretely wipe the drool from the corner of your mouth, you let out a silent sigh, and munch down on your quick-grab lunch. Many times when we come to church, we just slap ourselves together and come to church to expect something to wow us, just as you were “wowed” with your co-workers carefully prepared lunch. We need to do more than just the “grab n’ go” when it comes to worshipping our God. In addition, we must always be ready to share our Christian faith with others. Sharing our faith, like worshipping God, will take preparation. Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit would remind us of things we had learned, but if we have not put in the time and preparation by studying the word he has little to work with in us. Preparation is everything. Preparation in prayer, the Word, in worship, and in the Spirit. Are you prepared?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Forgotten God

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Deuteronomy 8:18 (NLT)
18 Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.

In 1863 President Lincoln designated April 30th as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Let me read a portion of his proclamation on that occasion:
“It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, who owe 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 a history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. The awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people. 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. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has grown, but we have forgotten God.” This week as we dedicate ourselves to the Lord with prayer and fasting, let’s remember that everything we have comes from God and that anything we hope to accomplish is dependent upon Him. Our nation has not only forgotten God, but we have also pushed Him over in the corner, at best, and at worst refuse to acknowledge His existence. Let’s make 2016 a year of revival and returning to God.

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

The Spirit of Giving

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Luke 1:39-41 (NLT)

A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Marys greeting, Elizabeths child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

 I discovered a devotional written by Pastor Jack Hayford that tells of how we should treat this Christmas season. It tells of how it is much more important to give than to receive. He states, “There is a seldom noticed yet preciously tender lesson to be found in Mary’s actions immediately following the angel’s visit announcing her role as bearer of the Christ Child. She had been told that her cousin Elizabeth was also experiencing an unusual, though different, visitation of God’s grace: that now late in life, she was in the sixth month of pregnancy with her first child (Luke 1:36). Now, almost immediately after she has discovered that she, Mary of Nazareth, is about to become the most unique woman in history, notice how beautifully her attention turns from herself to a need where she can serve. She travels to help Elizabeth, and verse 56 says that Mary stayed with her aged relative and served her until Elizabeth’s baby was delivered. This could well become our most important Christmas lesson for this year. Mary demonstrates a principle of God’s love in action: “May I be more concerned to assist the fulfillment of what the Lord is doing in another person than I am with what He is doing in me” (Celebrate! Daily Devotions for the Spirit-Filled Life, Jack W. Hayford, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1992, page: December 9). This story reminds me of a wonderful young lady I encountered recently, who when asked what she wanted for Christmas replied, “I don’t want to get, I want to give!” Oh that we could learn this lesson not only at Christmas time but all year round.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Thank You

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Max Lucado tells about living as an American in Brazil. One day, as he was walking along the street on his way to the University to teach a class, he felt a tug on his pants leg. Turning around, he saw a little boy about 5 or 6 years old with dark beady eyes and a dirty little face. The little boy looked up at the big American and said, “Bread, Sir.” He was a little beggar boy and Lucado said, “There are always little beggar boys in the streets of Brazil. Usually I turn away from them because there are so many and you can’t feed them all. But there was something so compelling about this little boy that I couldn’t turn away. So, taking his hand, I said, `Come with me’ and I took him into a coffee shop.” Max told the owner, “I’ll have a cup of coffee and give the boy a piece of pastry…whatever he wants.” Since the coffee counter was at the other end of the store, Max walked on and got a cup of coffee, forgetting about the little boy because beggar boys usually get the bread and then run back out into the street and disappear. But this one didn’t. After he got his pastry, he went over to the big American and just stood there until Lucado felt his staring eyes. Lucado said, “I turned and looked at him. Standing up, his eyes just about hit my belt buckle. Then slowly his eyes came up until they met mine. The little boy, holding his pastry in one hand, looked up and said, ‘Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.’” Lucado said, “I was so touched by the boy’s thanks that I would have bought him the store. I sat there for another 30 minutes, late for my class, just thinking about a little beggar boy who came back and said, `Thank you.’”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark