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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Create in me a clean heart O God!

cleanheart

Why does it seem that God is not listening to our prayers? It may be that we don’t have a clean heart. It’s true that when we place our faith in Jesus we have right standing with God, and that will never change, but disobedience in our lives will effect our fellowship with God including our prayer lives. Disobedience will always keep us from a close walk with Jesus every time, and that is not God’s fault. The only thing that will help us get closer walk with Jesus is not necessarily reading more Scripture, praying longer, attending church more…first we must have a talk with Jesus confessing our sins (1 John 1:9) so that God will cleanse our hearts (Psalm 51:10). When we have a clean heart and a closer walk with the Lord then our prayers will get above the ceiling.

I like what Pastor Greg Laurie wrote in a devotional about having a clean heart, “Unconfessed sin in our lives will stop our prayers from being answered. The psalmist wrote, ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear’ (Psalm 66:18). We can pray with passion. We can pray with faith. We can pray with all of the gusto we have. But if there is an area in our lives that is not right before God, then our prayers will not be heard.”

In this “me-first” and “me-centered” day we might hear people say, “how dare God not hear MY prayer!” Instead we ought to say, “how dare me to allow the very things that Jesus died for to enter my heart and life.” How’s your prayer life? When we intentionally include confession in our prayers before we ask anything we will see a difference.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

What a great week!

missionweek_15

As I parked the bus a few minutes ago and made my way across the lawn at LFBC to my Jeep it hit me…Mission week is over. There were no kids in the lawn playing kick ball or freeze tag and no sounds of laughter and shouts of joy – just silence. The buses weren’t lined up ready to take our group somewhere to minister in Jesus name. The Fellowship Hall that had been filled with kids making cards and goody bags is now empty. The kitchen where volunteers worked to provide us with great lunches is also empty. Yeah I’m kinda sad that it’s over yet at the same time I’m overwhelmed with joy at all the cherished memories of the good work our group did for the glory of God.

Oh I loved each day this week watching our kids and students reach out to others because of God’s love! May we continue to focus on reaching out to others and loving others beyond this week, and may our work be contagious in our church family because people need the comfort of God. Like the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Thank you everyone who participated in any way to make our Mission Week an incredible experience! I’m so proud of everyone and I love each of you more than you’ll ever know! Love in Christ, Pastor Mark

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

Back to the Ole Routine?

Last week I enjoyed some time away with my family while the kids were on spring break, and boy did we ever have a wonderful time! Isn’t it amazing how those times are the quickest weeks of the year? This morning when the alarm went off my first though was “time to get back into the old routine.” We are creatures of habit which is not really a bad thing because a routine that works each day gets us going and helps us see accomplish our daily tasks. But what about a spiritual routine?

A routine in our spiritual lives could lead to a focus on mechanics and going through the motions instead of a close personal walk with the Lord from our hearts. One consequence of “going through the motions” is getting over what Jesus did and continues to do for us. I pray that God will deliver us from a callused heart towards our Lord and Savior that can result from the same ole routine. I challenge every believer in Jesus to take time every day to think about the cross of Calvary and give God thanks every day for His Great love, his Great mercy, and His great power that saved us.

I can’t think of a better day to keep our relationship with Jesus fresh than on the Monday after Easter. I’m sure most of us took time during Easter to remember the cross and celebrate the empty tomb. Let’s not allow days to become months before we give thanks and praise to the Lord for all He did for us. His sacrifice on the cross is still effective and praise God the tomb is still empty! Let’s keep this fresh in our hearts and minds and never get over it! Just like Peter who went away from the tomb amazed, may we stay amazed at what our Lord and Savior has done for us (Luke 24:12).

Love in Christ,

Mark

Provoke others!

What are some things that you encourage others to do?  We encourage people to be honest, to take a vacation, to make tough choices regarding family, and even at times encourage people to do wrong things.  How often do we encourage our family and friends to be faithful in their walk with the Lord?  To go deeper in their relationship with the Lord?  Sometimes I think we view someone’s spiritual life and walk with the Lord as private so we just don’t go there like we should.  However, the author of Hebrews wrote, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).  Certainly provoking other believers to “love and good works” reveals how God expects us to get involved in another’s life by encouraging them to do good things for the Lord.  In fact, I believe that we should encourage believers to go forward in their Christian experience as much, if not more, as we encourage people to do things that are not spiritual.

When someone misses church on a Sunday or Wednesday we should not say “well it’s none of my business where they are” as if we can’t play an important role in their faithfulness to the Lord.  The truth is God expects us to think of others and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.  When’s the last time you encouraged someone to come to Sunday school or get involved in men’s or ladies fellowship?  When’s the last time you invited someone to church or encouraged someone to join the choir?  It makes a tremendous difference in someone’s life when there is someone encouraging them to actively love and serve the Lord.  The Bible calls that provoking someone to love and good works.

It really is a great privilege to know the LORD and to have the opportunity to be a part of His great work.  I believe with all my heart that the greatest work on the face of the earth is God’s Work because it is an effective, life-changing work that lasts for all eternity.  What work can compare to knowing, loving, and serving Jesus?  Knowing Jesus satisfies like nothing else because He provides ultimate meaning and purpose in life.  It’s my prayer that we’ll desire to be faithful to the Lord and to be used of God to encourage others to get in on God’s blessings.

Let me encourage you to come to Sunday school and worship, to volunteer in our kids and youth ministries, to join the choir, to come to the marriage workshop on March 27-28, to get involved in our men’s prayer breakfasts and workdays, to get involved in our ladies fellowships, to enjoy God’s blessings that results from being a cheerful giver, to pray for your church, etc.  Join me church family in being intentional provoking others to love and good works.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Mark