The Lord is Worthy of our Service!

It’s interesting to me that many in the church today are so quick to choose a quick and easy route instead of rolling up sleeves and being willing to work. We must remember that this is God’s work and the only reason we are part of His work is because Jesus willingly paid it all. Last night in prayer meeting I shared about the Prophet Isaiah’s vision of the Lord seated on the throne high and exalted because He is holy and worthy (Isaiah 6:1-8). After the Lord touched Isaiah and purged his sin, Isaiah responded to the Lord’s call of “whom shall I send” with “here am I, send me.” Isaiah was willing not because He saw himself worthy, but because He saw the Lord was worthy. Do we see the Lord worthy? If so it will lead us also to say “here am I, send me.”

Christian, why do you do what you do? Is your service to the Lord just out of obligation or with an attitude that lacks heart which seeks the quick and easy way most of the time? I pray that, like Isaiah, we’ll see ourselves as unworthy and the Lord as worthy so that we’ll understand the tremendous privilege of getting to serve the Lord and being used by Him for His work. I believe the key to serving with our hearts instead of obligation is to keep in mind that the Lord is so worthy of our service. After all that He is, after all that He has done, and after all that He will do, serving the Lord is the least we can do. We must also keep in mind that we represent the true and living God here in this world, so let’s be willing to do it from our hearts in such a way that doesn’t mind a little work.

While King David desired to build an altar to the Lord on Araunah’s threshing floor, Araunah told David that he would give him what he needed. This led David to say, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). I can’t help but think of the church today, we would likely say, “Oh you’ll give it to me? Great!” I want have to pay anything; But not David, He was willing to pay the price because this was the Lord’s work that involved worship to the Lord. David couldn’t imagine taking a cheap route because the Lord is worthy of whatever the cost.

Let me challenge not only LFBC but all Christians to check up and make sure we don’t have an obligated motivation that likely always chooses the quick and easy route, but rather a motivation solely based on the fact that the Lord is worthy. What a great testimony to any community when Christians offer their best to the Lord out of love for the Lord because He is worthy. How are we representing the true and living God in our communities as we serve the Lord?

Love in Christ,
Pastor Mark
Ephesians 3:20

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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

“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.

Let’s Have Church!

I wonder how many of us as believers appreciate being a part of the church? When we keep in mind what the Apostle Peter wrote about the fact that we have been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ, I believe we will maintain an appreciation for being a part of the family of God. The right perspective of how we are a part of the church will lead us to the right reason for meeting with other believers for worship. What is the right motivation? Jesus.

My fear today is that our motivation for meeting together at church is everything but the one main reason including: obligation, social reasons, entertainment, self-help therapy, feel good emotions…Certainly not all of the above are bad but they all have in common a focus on self and not a focus on Jesus. I believe that when Jesus is our motivation then we won’t attend out of obligation, we will enjoy socializing better, our entertainment will be healthy and Jesus will be honored and glorified, we will receive the ultimate self-help, and our emotions will be kept in check as opposed to being driven by emotions. What drives real, lasting help from God is receiving His Word in faithful obedience from a love relationship with Jesus. Does this sound anything like your experience at church?

My prayer is that we don’t treat church merely like a social event or a selfish experience but rather an encounter with the true and living God when Jesus is exalted and God’s Word is received in faithful obedience. Just like an old song I used to enjoy singing in choir years ago, “Let’s get together and praise the Lord, everybody make a joyful noise even though we’ve come together, from all over the earth. Let’s come together in one accord everyone that’s listening to my voice let’s get together, let’s have church!”

Let’s take them deeper!

lfbcyouth

Some thoughts from a former Student Minister to current Student Ministers: Student Ministers Don’t underestimate your students, they are capable of digging into the Word, and they really want an authentic, real faith that results in a changed life by God’s power. Trying to be “clever” by being like the world yet also being Godly is not a Spiritual gift and the result is failure. Let your “measuring stick” for ministry be life change and not only about numbers and fun. Let’s give our students the truth, they deserve it, they can take, and they really do want it!

Many students excel in the classroom and some even take college credits while still in high school; many students also excel in sports, arts, and clubs yet when they come to a lot of student ministries they usually only receive baby food if they get that. I believe that when a student’s heart is touched and challenged with God’s Word then the result of their spiritual growth will be to remain in church instead of dropping out like so many do after high school. Think about it, when a student has little to no spiritual growth and the majority of what they received was fun,  entertainment, and social emphasis they quickly realize that church didn’t equip them for life so they drop out because it’s time to grow up (which they never did spiritually). The irony is that most student ministries pride themselves on being relevant yet when high school graduation takes place students see that what they received was anything but relative. Let’s take them deeper!

I’m so thankful for our student leaders and volunteers at LFBC for being interested in our student’s hearts and spiritual lives. They truly love them by desiring to be with them, by having fun with them, getting to know them, and most importantly by desiring to see them grow in their faith and go deeper in their walk with Jesus. We will only have our students for a short time so let’s redeem the time!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Mark

1 Peter 2:2