Spirit-Led

 

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 15:18-19 (NLT)
18 Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them.
19 They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.

I remember an unpleasant moment from my first pastorate that took place after an all-church meeting where I had been literally ripped to shreds. When the meeting was over, my presbyter put his arm around my shoulders and said, “Mark, if the Holy Spirit can’t get through to them you and I are going to reach them either.” That poignant moment in my life and ministry reminds me that are success in reaching people lies not in our talent, ability, or knowledge, but rather in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds us here that we are merely channels of the Holy Spirit and that our success in ministry has much less to do with us, and everything to do with the Holy Spirit. All too often we accept too much of the credit when we succeed, and too much of the blame when we fail. Have you been trying to reach someone that just seems to want nothing to do with the Gospel? Does it seem that no matter what you do they won’t listen? Remember that it is not you but the Holy Spirit that does the work. Rely on Him and trust in His power and not on your abilities.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

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My Brother the Mentor

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Timothy 1:18-19 (NLT)

18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles.

19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear…

 As I write this to you today it is with a heavy heart after the passing of my brother Dr. John T. Schaeufele.  John has most recently been the CEO of St. Vincent’s Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo, OH.  He dealt with a disease known as Cystic Fibrosis all of his life.  However, he never let it control his life or keep him from doing what he loved to do.  After his passing someone posted on Facebook a picture of him and expressed several words that described my brother, but of those words none expressed him more than the word “Mentor.”  The word mentor is defined as “an experienced person in a company, college, or school who trains and counsels new employees or students.”  My brother was a mentor to many people either as a doctor, teacher, administrator, father, brother, or friend.  In fact, early on in my life he became a mentor to me.  He took me under his wings at a time in my life that was dark and confusing, and was one of the first to encourage me to begin to read the Bible.  There are many memories in my mind of spending time with him at the University of Akron while he took care of laboratory animals, as well as going to football games and other fun things we did together.  Recently, we spoke on the phone and when I went to visit him at the Cleveland Clinic and he expressed how he felt he had lived a good life, which he certainly did.  He did things and saw things that most people can only dream about.  In my mind, however, he will be remembered most for the way he mentored people and taught them how to make the most out of life and to follow your passions.  As a pastor I am in a position to be a mentor to young and old alike.  It is my prayer that I will be as good a mentor as my brother John.  His life challenges all of us to mentor and shape the lives and minds of future generations.  Rest in peace Dr. John, you will be greatly missed.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Confident Hope

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 15:13 (NLT)
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I remember when I was a senior in high school and got the opportunity to meet with representatives from colleges I was interested in attending. One man in particular told me something that has stayed with me all these years. He said, “I just don’t know how those who do not know the Lord do it. It is hard enough to make it through each day with the Lord. How do they do it?” There is a lot of truth in what he said to me that day. The real concept behind what he said was that there is something the Christian life offers us that cannot be duplicated, and that is hope. Now when most people talk about hope they do so with an attitude of wishful thinking. They say things like “well I hope so.” However, for followers of Christ, hope has an assurance to it, a sense of certainty. One writer defined hope as “the joyful, faith-filled anticipation of the glorious future God has promised to his people” (Mohrlang, 221). The one thing that Christ offers us that no one else can is this hope based not on wishful thinking, but on a guarantee. Notice that Paul refers to it as a “confident hope.” It is because of this hope that we have a different worldview, a different way of thinking, and a different outlook on life. Thank you God for hope!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

“…and dog gone it, Jesus loves you!”

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 15:7 (NLT)
Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.

One of the great things we learn from Paul’s letter to the Romans is the idea of accepting people were they are at. We can see that plainly here. He tells us to “accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” To accept each other means more than grudgingly putting up with each other. We are to welcome other believers, with all their flaws and sins, into our fellowship and treat them as family, just as Christ has accepted us, with all our flaws and sins, into his fellowship and family (NLT Study Bible). Think about when you became a Christian and how Christ accepted you. Did he accept you just the way you were, or did he make you get cleaned up first? Paul answered that question for us way back in chapter 5 when he said, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8). The point is that Jesus accepts us just the way we are when we come to him. He doesn’t expect us to do the cleanup, but rather he does the cleaning-up. He is incredibly patient with us during this process, and even though he does not accept our sin neither does he drive us away because of it. Consequently, shouldn’t we treat each other the same way that Christ accepts us? Shouldn’t we be patient with new believers who struggle with sin and haven’t arrived yet? Should we expect them to be perfect right away? We ought to treat each other exactly how Christ in his mercy and patience has treated us.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark