A True Privilege!

LFBC youth

As I reflect back to this powerful moment from a few years ago with the students of LFBC, it makes me realize how blessed we are as members of God’s family! Let me encourage all Christians to never take for granted being a part of the church, having the privilege of prayer, and having the privilege of knowing Jesus more. We have these everlasting privileges because Jesus paid it all! I know we’re all busy, but making time to be with your church family is really the most important part of your week. Let me encourage you to be at your church this Sunday, you need it and your fellow brother and sister in Christ needs it. We need to grow spiritually together and that is seriously hindered when we miss meeting together with our church family.

No, church is not about seeing someone or being seen; it’s all about looking to Jesus and growing closer to Him through praise, prayer, and the Word! It really is the most powerful, most satisfying, and most lasting time on earth. Don’t miss out! “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”
(Hebrews 10:25).
Love in Christ,
Pastor Mark

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God’s love, God’s story, God’s power, God’s salvation!

 

jesusgospel

On this Good Friday as I meditate about what Jesus did on the cross in paying the price for our sin by dying in our place, I’m reminded that God’s Word clearly states that this was God saying “I love you!” (Romans 5:8) What an amazing love! What a powerful story! The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16), but what amazes me is the concept that the gospel needs to be improved, watered down to be less offensive, sugar coated with the flavor of “it’s all about you!” Simply put, the gospel doesn’t need adding to because it can’t possibly be improved!

My fear is that the “gospel” being shared today is not the life-changing powerful gospel of the Bible that produces real salvation because it was changed to be more appealing, and the attraction was more a selfish motive of adding Jesus to fix problems instead of trusting Jesus to deal with sin. The tragedy is that many are responding to this kind of message and led to believe that they are to saved. They have been given a bill of goods that really brings confusion and leads to multiple “salvation experiences.” I’ve recently heard stories of grandparents being so concerned with how many times their grand kids are getting “saved.” A real salvation experience recognizes sin and the need to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. A real salvation experience understands that we’ve blown it and it’s either Jesus or nothing. A real salvation experience is all about Jesus and not about me anymore. Jesus isn’t a friend that you add to your life, He is your life! He is not just your Savior but your Lord and Savior. What God does will bring everlasting change, and what man does will not last! So rest easy pastor, youth minister, volunteer, or leader because salvation is God’s work. Just share the gospel and leave the results up to Him, and when the result is salvation it will last.

This Sunday, and every day, may we share the gospel as it is and trust God to do the work that only He can do in changing lives through His power! Come on minister, don’t give your self so much credit that you think you can improve on the most powerful message the world has ever known, the gospel message! Jesus is what makes the gospel great, not you. Thank you Jesus for paying it all on the cross and demonstrating the greatest love ever!

-Pastor Mark

Romans 5:8

“Make Room for Jesus”

As I write this article I’m preparing a message for this Sunday entitled “Make Room for Jesus.” Many times we are guilty of not doing that this time of year because we are so busy “celebrating.” For those of us who are believers who have been adopted into God’s family by faith in Jesus, we know how great the gift that God has provided to us through His Son. So why do we struggle with making room for Jesus during the season that we celebrate His coming?

I don’t believe that we intentionally don’t make room for Jesus, in fact I believe Christmas motivates us with good intentions: We are motivated by the fact that Jesus is the best gift we have and will ever receive, we are motivated to make sure our families have the best Christmas because we want our loved ones to share in God’s love, we also are motivated to include our friends with the joys of Christmas, we are motivated to make as many good memories as possible, and maybe our motivation causes us to simply try too hard? Yes Jesus truly is the greatest gift of all, but more activity doesn’t necessarily mean that we are truly taking Christmas seriously. If Christmas to us is more about social events, shopping, decorating the “perfect tree,” Santa Claus, jingle bells, winter wonderlands, and Christmas movies then we will struggle with crowding Jesus out of His own birthday.

There’s nothing wrong with parties, shopping, decorating, jingle bells, and Christmas movies…but we need to make sure that we sing “Joy to the World” and “O Come Let Us Adore Him” more than “Jingle Bells” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.” We need to make sure that we turn off the movies and share the sacred words of Isaiah 9:6 and Luke 2 in our homes. Let’s make sure that our lives demonstrate to a lost and dying world that Christmas is Jesus. Christmas is about God sending His Son to save us from our greatest need so that we could be restored to a right relationship to God through faith in Jesus.

How sad would it be if we were guilty of being so busy with “Christmas” that we didn’t make room for Jesus? After all, without Jesus we really don’t have Christmas. Christmas is not about gifts under the tree, but about the gift that God gave on the tree so that we could have a personal relationship with God through His greatest gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s make sure that others clearly see in us that knowing Jesus is the only way to truly have a Merry Christmas.

From my family to yours, have a Jesus-filled Merry Christmas!

Pastor Mark

Isaiah 9:6

A word to College and Career Young Adults: I’m sorry!

nextlevel

I have the privilege of teaching some great college and career young adults every Sunday morning at 9:15 at LFBC. Yes, these young adults make it to small group Bible study at 9:15 on Sunday morning! Ministering specifically to these young adults has left some lingering thoughts in my heart and mind.

I begin by stating my apologies to college and career young adults. Generally speaking, the church puts a lot of emphasis in youth ministry (as we should), but when students graduate there is little to no emphasis for young adults. Is this not an important time in their lives? Do we really think that all that we did for them in youth ministry was enough?

Certainly the young adult stage is very important. There should be a ministry that continues on after youth ministry, a ministry that will help college and career with “the next level.” Most ministers would agree with me that there is an abundance of information received in our offices for children, youth, and senior adult ministries but rarely anything for young adults. I really don’t understand why this is the case, but the church doesn’t seem to be interested in young adults anymore. Perhaps we got the “numbers” out of them during their youth ministry years and now we’re “done” with them.  Maybe we no longer can use you to brag about how we’re doing it “right” because you have graduated? Whatever the reason, it’s a bad one.

The generation of 18-29 year olds has been labeled “the drop out” generation. Maybe we didn’t do as well as we “bragged” about when they were in youth ministry? Again, generally speaking, the church may be busy with many youth activities, but are these activities really changing lives and equipping students for the next chapter? Could it be that when students graduate they soon realize that what they received in youth ministry wasn’t relative for college and career? I’m convicted that a major restructure is in order in most youth ministries today. We need to stop asking questions like: Did everyone have a good time? Did we have a large turnout? How can we be popular? We need to ask only one question: Are lives being changed? All other questions are secondary.

The truth is that college and career young adults need ministry as much as they did when they were in middle school and high school. They need an environment of growing in their faith together, building each other up together, and supporting each other through the power of prayer. So I offer my sincere apologies to college and career young adults. You didn’t graduate from church when you graduated from high school and you certainly didn’t outgrow church. There is a place for you at LFBC.

The Day is Coming

Well I lay here in my bed this morning writing this article because of a kidney stone. Isn’t it amazing how something only 2mm can cause such pain and misery! When I think of pain I’m reminded of the day when there will be no more pain, the day when I see my Lord and Savior face to face and I will be like Him. The Apostle John wrote:

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:1-2).

Imagine that day when we will see Him as He is, the One Who paid it all for us, the One Who defeated sin, death, hell, and the grave! I’m grateful that though we face hardships, trials, burdens, pains, fears, hurts, tragedies…in this world all of these are only temporary for believers. As 1 John 3 reminds us, a glorious day that will result in seeing Jesus and being like Jesus will happen because of the greatest love that was given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8). I believe that Christians won’t truly appreciate God’s amazing love until we see Him as He is! There’s no doubt that we all have our share of hardships and disappointments but thank God there is a better day coming! Jesus told us that we would face troubles in this world, but thank God He also told us to “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Let me encourage all Christians today that what we currently possess no one, no group, not even the devil himself can take away from us. My heart breaks for those who believe that the answer can be found in this world or found in fulfilling their desires; the truth is things like that doesn’t last, won’t satisfy, and leaves you empty. They are seeking to find the fulfillment and joy that can only come through a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus. No they don’t realize this because they are blinded, but as believers we know of this satisfaction that the Apostle Peter called “joy unspeakable” (1 Peter 1:8). Just like something as small as a kidney stone can bring such pain, may each of us who may think we are too small to make a difference do our part to show people the joy unspeakable that we have in Christ for the glory of God.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Mark

9 UNBIBLICAL STATEMENTS THAT BIBLE-LOVING CHRISTIANS BELIEVE

9 UNBIBLICAL STATEMENTS THAT BIBLE-LOVING CHRISTIANS BELIEVE

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9 Unbiblical Statements That Bible-Loving Christians Believe

By Shane Pruitt

One of the greatest gifts that God gave mankind was the Holy Bible because the Bible is literally God revealing Himself, and communicating Himself to mankind in written word. Anything and everything that we know about God comes from these Holy Scriptures, and they contain the totality of what we need to know about becoming a Christian, and everything that we need to know about living the Christian life.

Orthodox Christianity teaches that the Bible was inspired and authored by the Holy Spirit of God using human instruments. It also believes that in it’s original languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; it is without error and fault.

However, there are many things that Jesus-following, Church-going, Bible-believing Christians believe that are completely unbiblical. How does this happen? Often, we’ll hear someone quote a statement that sounds nice to us, and we’ll begin repeating it as though it’s Biblical truth without ever researching it in the Scriptures. Several of these unbiblical statements have gained enough traction that many people believe they’re actually Bible verses. Not only are the statements unbiblical; most of them teach the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

Here is a list of nine popular unbiblical statements that Bible-loving Christians tend to believe:

  1. God helps those who help themselves.

This statement is actually anti-Gospel. Self-reliance and self-righteousness, or the attitude of trying harder and doing better actually gets in the way of the work of God. Jesus saves those who die to themselves: “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).”

  1. God wants me to be happy.

It’s a common belief that God exists to be our “personal genie” waiting to give us our every wish. It’s amazing how we will justify our sinful actions by saying, “God just wants me to be happy.” Happiness is tied to feelings and emotions that are often based on circumstances, and those change all the time. God wants us to be obedient to Him, trust Him, and know that everything He does is for our good, even if it doesn’t make me feel “happy” in that moment. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).”

  1. We’re all God’s children

Although, God has created everyone. . .not everyone relationally belongs to Him. Only those who have repented of sin, placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and possess the Holy Spirit of God inside of them can claim Him as their Father: “But you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:15b – 16).”

However, those who don’t have Jesus as their Savior, nor have the Holy Spirit of God inside of them actually belong to Satan: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1 – 2).” “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (1 John 3:10).”

  1. Cleanliness is next to Godliness

The people around you may appreciate you staying clean, but this is not Scripture. Parents may us this unbiblical statement to motivate their kids to clean their rooms. However, I’d suggest using an actual biblical statement: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12).”

  1. God won’t give you more than you can handle

Actually, all of life is more than we can handle. The point of living in a fallen world is not for us to try really hard to carry our heavy burden, but rather give-up, quit, and surrender to God, that’s what faith is all about. Every thing is more than I can handle, but not more than Jesus can handle: For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8).” “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).”

  1. We all worship the same God

Yes, there is only one true and living God: “know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other (Deuteronomy 4:39).”However, He only accepts worship that comes through Jesus Christ, not Muhammad, Buddha, Joseph Smith, etc: And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).”

  1. Bad things happen to good people

Often we place ourselves in the judgment seat of what is good and bad, or who is good and bad. The most popular way to make that judgment is by comparison. For example, Bob is a good guy, because he is not as bad as Sam. However, according to the Bible we’re all on equal ground because none of us is inherently good: “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10)’.”

  1. When you die, God gains another angel

Plain and simple. Humans are humans, and angels are angels. This remains so even in eternity. In fact, angels are intrigued by the interaction between God and His “image-bearing” humans: It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look (1 Peter 1:12).”

  1. We’re all going to the same place when we die

There are two possible destinations when we pass: Heaven and Hell. However, only those who are in Christ will be with Him for all eternity when they physically die: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).”

The fact that many of us Christians believe these unbiblical statements shows our unfortunate overall biblical illiteracy. Instead of swallowing popular statements hook-line-and-sinker; may we be like the Bereans in the Book of Acts. When they heard Paul preach, they wanted to research the Scriptures themselves to authenticate what he was saying: The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:10 – 11).”

What are some more unbiblical statements that you’ve heard Christians commonly use? Feel free to add to this list by commenting below!