Valuable Lesson

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

This week I learned a very valuable lesson:  don’t believe everything you read on Facebook (or the internet in general).  Recently someone had posted a list of all of the Christmas special appearing on television this Christmas season.  As I read through the list I noticed that a beloved Christmas special, and one of my personal favorites, was absent from the list.  The name of that special is familiar to most if not all American’s:  A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Here’s where the valuable lesson part comes in.  Last night I did a search on my DVR has discovered that indeed A Charlie Brown Christmas will air this year (12/2 on ABC for those who are interested).  Since I had gone on a bit of a rant on a recent blog on the subject I thought it my duty to print a retraction.  Sorry about the mishap and I will try to do better next time.  Happy Thanksgiving!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

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Trying To Take Christmas Songs Out Of Christmas

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Greetings In The Name of The Lord:

Luke 1:46-47 (NLT)
46 Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. 47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

Like most people when I think of Christmas it is often the songs of the season that come to the forefront of my mind.  I remember as a child going to the Midnight Christmas Eve Service and listening to my Uncle Ralph’s (our church organist) Christmas program, and how so many people came to hear that wonderful music as the beginning of their Christmas celebration.  In addition, I remember singing in our school Christmas program and learning the songs that we would perform for our parents and friends.  Furthermore, many of the Christmas programs that I watched on television also revolved around the music of Christmas.  Unfortunately, many of our children today are missing out on this very important aspect our Christmas celebration because of the secularization of Christmas and the political correctness of our modern society that wants to remove any hint of Christianity from Christmas.  How ironic it is that the one source we have for what Christmas is all about, the Bible, is one of the key aspects of our faith that our society is trying avoid.  Recently I saw a list of all the Christmas specials that will be airing on television this year, and as I perused the list one that was obviously missing was “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”  To me this is the most important Christmas program that all children should see.  In my opinion, a reason for this omission is the key scene in this program.  Charlie Brown asks, “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?”  His best friend Linus then gets up and retells the Christmas story from the Bible almost word for word.  It seems that people don’t want to be reminded that Christmas is all about Jesus coming to earth to save us from our sins.  Consequently, I have decided to preach a sermon series based on the Christmas songs of the Bible.  My prayer is that it will allow to see that we cannot remove Jesus or the Bible from our celebration of Christmas.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Talking About Thanksgiving

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

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? 

SOURCE: By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff, 11/23/2000. http://www.homiliesbyemail.com/Special/Thanksgiving
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In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Ebenezer: Our Stone of Help

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Greeting In The Name of the Lord:

1 Samuel 7:12 (NLT)
12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!”

 This Sunday marks the last service that we will hold at the storefront of 26 South Main St.  In the fifteen years we have been in this place many things have taken place.  During that time New LIfe Assembly of God has seen two Lead Pastor’s, a Youth Pastor, and an interim Pastor.  It has also been a place where we have held services, revivals, concerts, weddings, dinners, Christmas parties, and watched movies.  In this place we have feed the poor, housed the needy, and loved both the lovable and unlovable.  However, and most importantly, it has been the place where we have grown spiritually and experienced the miraculous.  God has done many wonderful things in this little storefront and we all have some very fond memories of things that have transpired within these walls.  For some of our younger members of our congregation it has been the only church that they have ever known.  This building has served us well and it will seem strange to drive past here in the days to come knowing it is no longer our church.  This Sunday is both a celebration of our past and a looking forward with anticipation of our future.  This building has been our Ebenezer, which means “the stone of help,” and it will always be a part of who we are in Christ, as well as who we shall be in the future.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Mission Possible

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Greetings In The Name of The Lord:

13But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” 14For there were about 5,000 men there. Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” (Luke 9:13-14, NLT)

When the disciples expressed concern about where the crowd of thousands would eat, Jesus offered a surprising solution: “You feed them.” The disciples protested, focusing their attention on what they didn’t have-food and money. Do you think God would ask you to do something that you and he together couldn’t handle? Don’t let your lack of resources blind you to seeing God’s power.  Our new building that we will be moving into in a few short weeks is living proof of this concept.  Who would have ever thought that a church of our size and limited resources could have ever been able to accomplish what we have been able to accomplish with this building?  Quite honestly, even as little as six months ago we probably wouldn’t have been able to get this far.  However, the Lord caused a number of things to come together at just the right time.  The Lord not only made the financial resources available to us, but he also sent us the right people who have made it possible for us to be at the place we now find ourselves.  Just imagine, in a few weeks we will be worshipping in a 9000 square foot building, and it is all because God opened up the doors!  As my dear friend Ken Fithen would say, “Oh come on somebody!”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark