Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Short Post:

I just havent had time to post lately. Really working (read 'wrestling' here) with time management. In other words, how I spend my time with God, family & job. I'm afraid I fall short in many areas - at least that is what has been pointed out to me by a number of people lately.

Two books I recommend reading:
1. 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Dr.Whitney
2. Intoxicated with Babylon by Steve Gallagher

More to post later... until then, God bless.

Friday, October 13, 2006

friday the 13th...

are you superstitious?

I find today that it is freezing outside... and inside my office! The heater was repaired at the church last week (when we had nice weather), and the thermostat wire for my office was cut. Evidently it wasn't hooked back up either! Brrrrr!!!

I just joined another website called "shelfari". Its a MySpace kind of idea, except it is a display of your library - the books you read. You interact through looking at people's shelves. You can see part of my library here: Pastor Mark's Library. Its kind of a neat idea.

Speaking of books that I am reading, I am working through Dr.Whitney's Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, but decided to go back and begin again Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor. I think I need to re-read... and finish this time... this book.

If you can, would you pray for Mr.Pope? He is one of my former Criminal Justice instructors from Pensacola Christian College. I hear he is in failing health and not doing well at all. He helped me more than I could ever explain here in a post. My prayers go up for he and his wife during this time. God bless...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

the STORM report...

Last night we had an event at our church for our teens called STORM (Sending Teens Out to Reach the Masses). The idea was to get the teens out to invite their friends to come to an event where we had some game time and then a gospel presentation - followed by walking tacos!

We were praying for 100 teens. Bad weather set in, we scrambled to rent a local facility due to our AWANA ministries occupying our own building, and we ended up with 44 kids! Praise the Lord! Of those 44 kids, 9 came to know the Lord as their personal Savior! That is so awesome!

I am very excited that our teens got to witness God moving among them. It was encouraging to me... and made me realize that all the work was worthwhile to see kids get saved. God is truly good all the time.

Our goal now is to follow up on all visitors and hopefully be able to disciple the new Christians. Would you pray that God would enable us to maintain these contacts? Thank you!

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, October 09, 2006

misc musings...

today finds nothing of any substance to write about. I am enjoying our new hi-speed internet, a vast improvement over the dial-up situation. (and we're saving $ by having it combined with our phone service... cant beat that!)
the last week, maybe week and a-half, have found me very busy. I dont see much end in sight - my mom is coming tomorrow to visit, and then my sis-in-law on Wednesday. We have a special event for teens happening on Wednesday... throw in a couple of Greek classes, dental appointments, counseling sessions... and my study on top of that - and you have a very busy week.

On a totally different subject: while in Indianapolis this last week, my wife and I ate at the Claddagh Pub downtown. There is a picture Ive added, we sat outdoors on the table that you see there. Click the link to see the menu. We had corned beef & cabbage rolls as an appetizer, I had the trout w/ sun-dried tomatoes and creme brulee for dessert.
Quite possibly the best coffee in a long time from a restaurant as well! I give it 4.5 stars out of 5. The inside was exquisite - dark wood everywhere and lively irish music. We really enjoyed ourselves!
Finally, the verses for our memory work in youth group are 1 Peter 1:15,16: "...but like the Holy One who called you is Holy, be holy also in all your behavior. Because it is written, Be holy for I am holy!" Incredibly simple and convicting verses!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Breaking down the barrier...

Today I read Ephesians 2:14-18 - and paused to meditate on this short passage:

Ephesians 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

At the cross of Christ an amazing thing happened: the barrier was broken down. What barrier is this a reference to? If you go back to vv.11ff you notice that there was a clear distinction being made of the Gentiles and the Jews. In v.14 Christ is referenced as having made both groups into one. The joining of the Gentiles and the Jews through the work on His cross.

This was radical thinking & we have lost what a jolt this must have been in Jewish society. Society was centered around the Temple in Jerusalem. It was the center of worship. Even if you lived elsewhere in Israel, and visited your synagogue regularly, you knew of the significance of the Temple. You would travel there to observe various religious activities. However, if you were Gentile, you were limited in what you could do at the Temple proper.

Read what Edersheim wrote in his book, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services - (pp.22,23):

"Court of Gentiles:
It was the rule when entering the Temple to pass in by the right, and when leaving it to go out by the left hand. The great Court of the Gentiles, which formed the lowest or outer enclosure of the Sanctuary, was paved with the finest variegated marble. According to Jewish tradition, it formed a square of 750 feet. Its name is derived from the fact that it was open to all - Jews or Gentiles - provided they observed the prescribed rules of decorum and reverence. In this court tradition places eating and sleeping apartments for the Levites, and a synagogue. But, despite pharisaic punctiliousness, the noise, especially on the eve of the Passover, must have been most disturbing. For there the oxen, sheep and doves selected as fit for sacrifices were sold as in a market; and here were those tables of the money-changers which the Lord overthrew when He drove from His Father's house them that bought and sold (Matt.21:12; John 2:14). Within a short distance, in the court, a marble screen 4 1/2 feet high, and beautifully ornamented, bore Greek and Latin inscriptions, warning Gentiles not to proceed, on pain of death."

Gentiles were not allowed the priviledge of close worship as the Jews. This all changed when Jesus died on the cross. Surely He rent the veil separating us from the Holiest of Holies, but He also made it possible for Gentiles to gain access to the Father (v.18).

Not only access, but peace as well. Peace between Gentiles and Jews - between all men and the Law - between all men and God. Every day it seems that I learn more about the precious sacrifice that Christ made on my behalf.

Will you join me today in thanksgiving because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thirsting after God...

Here is a quote from a book I started last night:

Knowing Christ well is so spiritually thirst quenching because no person, possession, or experience can produce the spiritual pleasure we can find in Him. Communion with Christ is incomparably satisfying because there is no disappointment in what you find in Him. Moreover, the spiritual gratification you find in Him initially is never ending. On top of these, the Lord in whom this satisfaction is found is an infinite universe of satisfaction in which one may immerse himself to explore and enjoy without limitation. So there is no lack of satisfaction in knowing Christ, but neither has God designed us so that one experience with Christ satiates all future desire for Him.
Taken from Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Donald S. Whitney. (pp.22)
I just thought that was an incredible quote. Why do we decieve ourselves into believing that the things of this world will satisfy us? I am sure that this is what Paul referred to as the lusts of deceit. Infinite satisfaction. Do you have that? Do I? I must say that I have been challenged over these past few days to delve deeper into my relationship with Jesus Christ. I cannot - neither can you - live on one experience with Him. It must be a continual, repetitive process of drinking long at the fountain of Living Water.
My prayer is that today you may discover anew this thirst quenching / thirst developing relationship with Christ.