America’s Words Of Wisdom From The Past

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NLT)
14  Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 15  My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

As we approach the celebration of our country’s independence from Great Britain, known as July 4th, I have been thinking about this idea of independence. What is independence, and what are we independent from? Well the dictionary defines independence as “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like of others” (Dictionary.com). So this begs the question are we truly independent, or can we ever be truly independent? In my mind the answer to that question is no, we will never be totally independent. At the moment we are dependent upon foreign oil, foreign money, and a host of others things that we receive from others. Moreover, we are and always will be dependent upon a loving a gracious God. This is confirmed by the words of our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, who said, “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own 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 all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord. We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand, which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. 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” (Abraham Lincoln, Oct 1863). Not only have we forgotten God, but we have forgotten the words of this great leader from our country’s history. Furthermore, we have abandoned God by our actions, words, and deeds. Perhaps rather than celebrating this July 4th we need to humble ourselves, repent of our sins, and return to the God who made us the great nation we are today.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Why Are We Here?

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of The Lord:

Acts 1:8 (NLT)
8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Now that we are in our new building we need to answer the question, “Why are we here?” Having a new church building, and all that it brings, is a wonderful thing, but we need to ask ourselves what is purpose God has for us in this place. Is it just so that we can say, “Hey look at our beautiful new building?” I think not. God never does anything without a reason and purpose, and I think we can all agree that this was definitely God’s doing. So what is God’s purpose for us here? Win Arn, a leading church consultant conducted a survey. He surveyed members of nearly a thousand churches asking the question, “Why does the church exit?? The results? Of the church members surveyed, 89 percent said, “The church’s purpose is to take care of my family’s and my needs.? For many, the role of the pastor is simply to keep the sheep that are already in the “pen” happy and not lose too many of them. Only 11 percent said, “The purpose of the church is to win the world for Jesus Christ.” As Pentecostals we believe that our purpose is to lead people to saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We also believe that God’s purpose in giving us the baptism in the Holy Spirit is so that we can be his witnesses. Therefore, a major part of our purpose in the building, and this neighborhood, is to reach out to people and share with them the love of Jesus in what we do and what we say. Everything that we do should be wrapped up in that main purpose. Is being a witness our only purpose? Of course not, but that’s where it all begins. Are you being a witness?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Abba Father’s Day

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Romans 8:15 (NLT)
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba,Father.” 

Today we are celebrating Father’s Day, which is a day in which we show our gratitude to all of the Dad’s in our lives. We sometimes get down when because our Dad is no longer with us, and some of us get discouraged because our Dad for some reason is not around. At times like this we need to be reminded that we always have a Heavenly Father who loves us regardless of our situation in life. One of the great preachers of our time is Dr. Fred Craddock. Craddock tells a story about vacationing with his wife one summer in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One night they found a quiet little restaurant, where they looked forward to a private meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. Craddock leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” He didn’t want anyone intruding on their privacy. But sure enough, the man did come over to their table. “Where you folks from?” he asked in a friendly voice. “Oklahoma,” Craddock answered. “Splendid state, I hear, although I’ve never been there,” the stranger said. “What do you do for a living?” “I teach homiletics at the graduate seminary of Phillips University,” Craddock replied. “Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a story to tell you.” And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with Craddock and his wife. Dr. Craddock said he groaned inwardly and thought to himself, “Oh, no! Here comes another preacher story! It seems like everybody has at least one.” The man stuck out his hand. “I’m Ben Hooper,” he said. “I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born, so I had a pretty hard time. When I started to school, my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and lunch time because the things they said to me cut me so deep. What was worse was going to town on Saturday afternoons and feeling like every eye was burning a hole through me, wondering just who my father was. “When I was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in the church on me. Just about the time I got to the door I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me. ‘Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’ he asked. I felt this big weight coming down on me. It was like a big black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down. But as he looked down at me, studying my face, he began to smile a big smile of recognition. ‘Wait a minute!’ he said. ‘I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.’ With that he slapped me across the rump and said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’ The old man looked across the table at Fred Craddock and said, “Those were the most important words anybody ever said to me, and I’ve never forgotten them.” With that, he smiled shook hands with Craddock and his wife, and moved on to another table to greet old friends. And as he walked away, Craddock – a native Tennessean himself – remembered from his studies of Tennessee history that on two occasions the people of Tennessee had elected to the office of governor men who had been born out of wedlock. One of them was a man named Ben Hooper. Happy Father’s Day!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Pentecost Tribute To Dr. Gary McGee

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Acts 2:4 (ESV)
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

While Tina and I were in Seminary we had the honor of sitting under the teaching of and being mentored by Dr. Gary McGee. Dr. McGee was first and foremost, a walking encyclopedia of Pentecostal history. It was amazing to sit in his classroom and listened to him site Pentecostal history from sheer memory. In addition to being a great teacher and Pentecostal historian, Dr. McGee was also an incredible mentor of young people in ministry. He has since gone to be with the Lord, and in his memory on this Pentecost Sunday I would like to share some of his writings with you. “In the early 1900’s a major revival began in Los Angeles. It became known as the Azusa Street Revival. What the Holy Spirit did there was really quite revolutionary for its time. Here is what Dr. Gary McGee of the Assemblies of God writes about Azusa St.: According to the Los Angeles Times, a bizarre new religious sect had started with people “breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand.” Furthermore, “Devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories, and work themselves into a state of mad excitement.”

If that didn’t grab the reader’s attention, the article continued by saying that, “Colored people and a sprinkling of whites compose the congregation, and night is made hideous in the neighborhood by the howling’s of the worshipers who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve-racking attitude of prayer and supplication.” To top it all off, they claimed to have received the “gift of tongues,” and what’s more, “comprehend the babel.Nonetheless, for the spiritually hungry who came from far and wide to receive their Pentecost, “the very atmosphere of heaven” had descended, according to one. A visiting Baptist pastor said, “The Holy Spirit fell upon me and filled me literally, as it seemed to lift me up, for indeed, I was in the air in an instant, shouting, ’Praise God,’ and instantly I began to speak in another language. I could not have been more surprised if at the same moment someone had handed me a million dollars.”

Little could the subscribers of the Times have guessed that in years to come, historians would say that the Azusa Street revival played a major role in the development of modern Pentecostalism—a Movement that changed the religious landscape and became the most vibrant force for world evangelization in the 20th century. Azusa Street became the most significant revival of the century in terms of global perspective. [McGee, Gary]

 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark