Experiencing Jesus

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

1 John 1:1 (NLT2)
1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.
We can love him with our mind by reading all the great things he has done for us, we can have warm loving feelings toward him because of these things, but may I suggest that this is where many Christians are stuck. The part that is lacking is an experience of Him that makes the thoughts and feelings about Him real to us. By letting him use us, do we really experience who he is, and the extent of His love?

The best example I can think of is when people fall in love by chatting on the Internet. All they have experienced are words and possibly pictures of the other person, but have had no real experience of them. Most of the time when they finally do meet in person the experience is very disappointing. It’s the same person but the actual personal experience of them leaves us uncomfortable and disappointed. Anyone can look great on paper, including God, and if that is all we have without personal experience of Him, it will be a shallow love. Have you had a personal experience with Jesus?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

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Life Together

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Acts 2:42 (NLT2) 

42  All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. 

“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Doing What Jesus Did

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 13:14-15 (NLT2) 

14  And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15  I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 

We serve Jesus by serving people. A wealthy American traveler visited a hospital in Southeast Asia. He walked in just as a young missionary nurse was cleaning the sores of a sick, dirty, elderly man who had been found lying in a gutter. The rich man said to the nurse, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” She answered quietly and firmly, “Neither would I.” Money couldn’t buy her extravagant devotion to Jesus. Her life was broken and spilled out for the love of Christ.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Taking The Mystery And Fear Out of Sharing Your Faith

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Mark 16:15 (NLT2) 

15  And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 

In court, bearing witness is telling the truth about what you’ve seen and heard. John the Baptizer was doing the same about Jesus. If we witness, we can tell others about something the Lord has done in our lives, whether relating to Salvation or some other matter of His provision. We can witness to others about His healing, His sustenance (He gets us through things), His grace, etc. The purpose of bearing witness about Jesus is so that others may find Him and believe to eternal life. ‘Wit-ness’ literally refers to having a knowledge about something, and we need to share what we know about Jesus!

Application: Do we bear witness of the Light? Note that the purpose of both the testimony of the Apostle John and John the Baptizer was to bring people to believe in Jesus. Are we doing this? Witnessing is literally telling others what the Lord has done and who He has been in your life. What has He done in your life? How can you tell others?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Bucking The Individualist Mindset

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT2) 

19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  20  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 

Many Christians have been infected with the most virulent virus of modern American life, what sociologist Robert Bellah calls “radical individualism.” They concentrate on personal obedience to Christ as if all that matters is “Jesus and me,” but in doing so, miss the point altogether. For Christianity is not a solitary belief system. Any genuine resurgence of Christianity, as history demonstrates, depends on a reawakening and renewal of that which is the essence of the faith—that is, the people of God, the new society, the body of Christ, which is made manifest in the world—the church [Chuck Colson, The Body, 32].

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Audience Of One

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 4:23-24 (NLT2) 

23  But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24  For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” 

“Most people think of the church as a drama,” Dr. James Kennedy said, “with the minister as the chief actor, God as the prompter, and the laity as the critic. What is actually the case is that the congregation is the chief actor, the minister is the prompter, and God is the critic.” These thoughts from Dr. Kennedy remind us that worship is not about us, but rather about God. When worship services become more like attending a rock concert than worshipping God we have a problem. Now please keep in mind that my last comment has nothing to do with style of worship, and everything to do with the attitude of our hearts. When we worship we are not the audience; we are the performers. It should matter less about us getting something out of worship and more about God getting something out of it.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Transformation

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Romans 12:2 (NLT2) 

2  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

Farmers in Zentsuji, Japan, are preparing full-grown watermelons for shipment — only these are no ordinary melons: they’re square! They were placed in tempered-glass cubes while they were still growing. Why would anyone want a square watermelon? They’re much easier to store in a refrigerator! It’s amusing to think of how a naturally round watermelon can become square because of the shape of the container in which it’s grown.

This reminds me of the forces in the world that exert their influence on us and attempt to shape us. That’s why in Romans 12: 2 we are told not to  “copy the behavior and customs of this world,” but to “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” The idea is rather simple: We are to allow the transforming Word of God to work within us and produce outward results, instead of permitting external pressures to shape us.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark