Thankful For The Power of Prayer

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James 5:16 (NLT) 

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

This past week I have been blessed by all of the phone calls, emails, text messages, and comments on Facebook from everyone concerned about my health.  While I was unnecessarily scared by the original diagnosis, it appears I have a disc problem in my spine that has caused me all the pain in my legs for the past several weeks.  While a disc problem is nothing to be happy about it is certainly better than the original prognosis.  However, all of the prayers, outpouring of love and concern got me thinking about the power of prayer.  It reminded me of one of the great stories of answered prayer in Church history.  One of the earliest and the most outstanding intellectuals, leaders and defenders of the Christian faith was Augustine, the fourth century writer of the “Confessions of Saint Augustine,” one of the most famous tell-all autobiographies written. Young Augustine was a hedonist, a philosopher, an agnostic, and a rebel, but his mother Monica was a godly, persistent, and resourceful woman. Augustine often laughed at her mother’s pious ways, mocked her faith, and deliberately defied her continual pleading for him to repent of his pagan lifestyle, to convert to Christ, and to live an exemplary life. When Augustine wanted to leave the shores of Carthage, North Africa, for the bright lights of Rome, his mother feared the worst for her son, dreaded the outcome of his leaving, and often fled to the church for solace, prayer, and advice. In her despair, she would often weep uncontrollably for her son. One day a minister noticed her painful cries, and asked her why she was so bitter. She told him of his wayward son, but the bishop assured her with these words: “Go in peace; as you live, it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.” Augustine avoided his mother as much as possible and ignored her warnings time and again, but he could not escape her continuous prayers. Monica painstakingly prayed, wept, and looked for her son for 30 years until Augustine surrendered his life to Christ.  James was right when he said, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”  Thanks for the prayers and please keep them coming.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

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No More Excuses

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Philippians 1:1 (NLT) 

This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons.

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Here at New Life we talk a lot about church as family.  Recently I began to ponder the question, “If church is family, and we love God and each other, why wouldn’t we come to church on a regular basis?”  Now I realize that today “regular” has taken on a new meaning in church circles.  Years ago regular meant every Sunday morning, plus Sunday and Wednesday evenings.  However today it has become every third Sunday.  But again I ask the question why wouldn’t you want to be at church at the very least every Sunday morning?  As I was thinking about this I came across this humorous, and at the same time sad piece called, “No Excuse Sunday.” Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say, “Sunday is my only day to sleep in.” Murine will be available for those with tired eyes… from watching television too late on Saturday night. We will have steel helmets for those who say, “The roof would cave in if I ever came to church.” Blankets will be provided for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who think the church is too hot. We will have hearing aids for those who say, “The pastor speaks too softly,” and cotton for those who say I preach too loudly. Scorecards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present. For those who wish to spend time with family on Sunday we assure you that your Father will be in attendance. There will be T.V. dinners for those who cannot go to church and cook dinner also. One section will be devoted to trees and grass for those who like to seek God in nature. Finally, the sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who have never seen the church without them.”  Perhaps it is time we reexamine our priorities.  The writer of Hebrews says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Heb. 10:25, NLT).  Church let’s stop making excuses and make our family time together the most important and exciting part of our week.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Carrying One Another’s Burdens

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

 Galatians 6:2-3 (NLT) 

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

One of the five W’s that we live by here at New Life is the word Welcome.  We want everyone, whether they are first time guests or long time members of the family to feel welcomed and loved.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith In Community, said, “The Christian, however, must bear the burden of a brother. He must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. The burden of men was so heavy for God Himself that He had to endure the Cross. God verily bore the burden of men in the body of Jesus Christ. But He bore them as a mother carries her child, as a shepherd enfolds the lost lamb that has been found. God took men upon Himself and they weighted Him to the ground, but God remained with them and they with God. In bearing with men God maintained fellowship with them. It was the law of Christ that was fulfilled in the Cross. And Christians must share in this law.”  Sometimes the burden we must bear is the other person’s worries or concerns, but sometimes the burden we must bear is the people themselves.  In a recent encounter at the grocery store I ran across an acquaintance I had not seen in a while, and when I asked how things were going he unloaded for what seemed like an eternity.  My choice was to lend a caring ear, stare off into space ignoring him, or politely brush him off.  The choice I made was to intently listen and offer some comfort.  While nothing I could have said was going to change his situation, the fact that I was willing to listen hopefully made him feel as though someone cared.  Are you willing to carry one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ?  Blessings

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Metamorphosis Not Resolution

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Romans 12:2 (NLT) 

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.

 Many people around the country, and possibly the world, made what is referred to as a “New Years Resolution.”  It is a decision to change something about ourselves in the coming year.  It might be to eat better, lose weight, get more exercise, or a score of other promises.  However, most people will be disappointed when weeks or months from now that resolution will fall by the wayside and we will feel like a miserable failure.  What we all misunderstand is that we don’t have the power or resolve within ourselves to change anything.  Even those with incredible will power only have the strength within themselves change minimally.  Jesus said it best when he stated, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NLT).  The reality is we are not able to make real, lasting change without God’s help.  The kind of change we really need is what the Bible calls transformation.  This word comes from the Greek word metamorphousthe, which is a compounds word of meta (which means change) and morpho (which means to give shape or form).  In other words, transformation means to change who we are and not just something we do.  Notice something that Paul says in Romans 12:2, “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.”  He doesn’t say change yourself, he says let God change you.  The only way we can achieve real and lasting change is for us to allow God to change us.  Are you willing this year to let God transform you into a new person?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark