Mark’s God Thoughts for Monday, May 25, 2015

TOO MUCH?

Amazing! That’s the only way I can describe them. They could not have possibly turned out better, all thanks to my wife over doing it with the salt. Mind you, when I say “over doing it,” I’m just saying “normal” for most everyone else. You see, like most of us these days, my wife has a handful of “health” related concerns, salt being one of them. Admittedly, it has been determined in recent decades that too much salt creates health problems, but my wife generally goes to the extreme far end of the “less salt is better” spectrum. But last night, thankfully, while preparing a couple of fine Rib eyes’ for the grill, she over did it on the salt and what a beautiful mistake it was! As you might expect, those precious slabs of the cow were to die for.

Obviously, over doing it on many things can be hazardous, such as too many scoops of Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, or being exposed to the sun too long, to a few too many sips of fermented grapes. Even too much exercise can be a problem. I can go on and on. However, I believe there is one notable exception to the “too much” issue at hand. I honestly don’t believe you can spend too much time with Jesus. Seriously, I believe you can only reap enormous benefits by spending too much time in the Word of God and in prayer. Really, the only “side affects” you can likely expect from spending too much time with Jesus is you’ll probably be overwhelmed with too much peace, too much comfort, too much love and too much joy.

Let’s face it, this is the one case where too much of a good thing is TOTALLY AWESOME!

Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.

Luke 18:1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

In Jesus Amazing Love,

Brother Mark

Mark’s God Thoughts for Sunday, April 13, 2014

LETTER FROM HEAVEN

I recall the moment so clearly, when I closed my eyes for the final time on earth. At that very moment an angelic being of breathtaking beauty was holding my hand. An unbelievable peace immediately flooded my entire being. In the very next instant I was standing before my Redeemer. The only description of that moment that comes to my mind is LOVE. His very presence, His very person was simply love personified. I could see His love, I could feel His love, in fact, somehow, every one of my senses (and some new senses I can’t begin to describe) was completely enveloped by His incredible presence just dripping in love. And suddenly my senses jumped to levels of pure ecstasy and joy that I absolutely cannot even begin to describe as Jesus wrapped His loving arms around me and embraced me so wholly and completely. I did not want Him to let go! But even when He did, His love that had washed over me like a mighty wave remained just as potent as when I was in His arms. Oh, what amazing love!

What happened next had me shaking from head to toe with pure, undefiled excitement and unconstrained elation. They were all there, anxious to greet me and hoping to share their wealth of heavenly knowledge. I instantly recognized every one of them, even though some of them didn’t look at all like what I remembered from their last days on earth. There were my grandparents, though not a single grey hair was on their head, not a single wrinkle on their skin, unbelievable! There was my Bible teacher from high school, he stuttered something awful on earth, but his words now flowed like fresh streams of water with nary a hint of hesitation. There was Micah, oh what joy to see this joyful lad of whom I had prayed so fervently for. They kept coming by from everywhere and anywhere, even some of the famous people I always hoped I would get to see when I arrived. And then, oh my goodness, all of the Bible characters I had read about so often, thank goodness I have an eternity to get to know them all!

Finally I began to look around and try to take it all in. I’m at a complete loss for words. I could make use of words like fantastic, wonderful, breathtaking, amazing, spectacular, etc., and they would just barely be scratching the surface of what is before me, all around me and within me! One of my favorite songs from earth comes to mind, “I can only imagine” but even in my wildest imaginations, I couldn’t imagine this.

How can I possibly explain the fact the there is light all around me, exceedingly brighter and far more brilliant than the brightest summer day you could ever have on earth and yet there is no sun. The light is just there! And in spite of the brilliant light, my eyes can take in all this glory without any need to squint or slap on shades. Oh the glory that surrounds me!

I remember visiting some spectacular gardens on earth, but they might as well be fields of weeds compared to what I’m seeing now, and they’re everywhere. The colors are astonishing! I can actually somehow feel the colors, if that makes any sense. Remember those enormous crayon boxes with dozens of different shades of each primary color? Now multiply that a few hundred times and you might start getting close to what I’m seeing. Daisies, daffodils, tulips, roses, I could go on and on with the flowers I recognize and then I could fill another page describing the flowers I never saw on earth, and by the way, no sign of even a single weed.  And then there’s the fragrance! Oh my goodness; the scent of uncountable flowers, each somehow penetrating my senses all at once as I gaze at their beauty; so many things that cannot be explained in human terms.

I must confess, I didn’t care much for fruit on earth, but I’ll tell you what, if the fruits I had on earth tasted like the fruits I’ve had here, I would have been a fruitaholic. In fact, everything I’ve tasted here, the flavor literally exploded in my mouth, and the variety, incredible. Some I recognize, most I don’t, but I’m trying them all! And I’m told there’s a banquet to end all banquets to be held in the very near future.

It would take volumes of books for me to describe to you the incredible beauty of the flowers and trees, the unreal scenery, much of it similar to the best that earth had offered and yet so much more to behold. The bodies of water, so crystal clear and shimmering as if the entire surface were covered in diamonds. The streets of gold, yes they are, but the gold so pure it’s somehow transparent, mind-boggling! Then there’s the ever present sound ranging from the exquisite songs from an enormous variety of birds to the lovely and superb sounds of praise and worship coming from seemingly everywhere I turn. I can’t wait to join in the chorus!

There’s so much more to share, but I will hold off for now. My only hope and prayer are that everyone who might be reading this letter will come to the saving grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; the Creator of all that was, is and ever will be. He is, even now, preparing a place for all who simply believe. The answers are all found in His Word. And the answer is Jesus. It is just as He said Himself, that He is the way, the truth and life. There’s no trick or deep, difficult formula to discover. There’s no amount of “works,” good deeds, or achievements that must be accomplished to achieve salvation and this most excellent eternal home. It’s just as Jesus said in the Bible, simply believe that God sent His only son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for all the sins of mankind; that Jesus rose again and is now completely accessible and the path to salvation for all who believe.

Eternally His,

An anonymous saved soul

The above description of heaven is my imagination of what it might be like. In reality, I suspect that heaven will be considerably more incredible then what I imagine. Some of what I have written can be found in the word of God. Some of what I have written has been influenced by what I have read over the years from those who have received glimpses of their eternal home through miraculous events. All to say, I believe that heaven is real and I look forward with great anticipation to be going to my real home whenever He desires to come and get me.

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT) That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (NLT) This boasting is all so foolish, but let me go on. Let me tell about the visions and revelations I received from the Lord. I was caught up into the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether my body was there or just my spirit, I don’t know; only God knows. But I do know that I was caught up into paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be told.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10:9-10 (NLT) For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

In Jesus’ Amazing Love,

Brother Mark

 

Mark’s God Thoughts for Sunday, April 6, 2014

LETTER FROM HELL

The terrifying screams, the unrelenting wails, the moaning and groaning, it never lets up. The horrifying sounds echo across what appears to be unending darkness stretching as far as the East is from the West. I try to cover my ears but the unrelenting sound penetrates right through my hands as if they weren’t there. Then there’s the stench, unbelievable! Imagine combining the smell of a freshly killed skunk on the road, a large rat that died a week ago stuck inside your wall, fresh human waste erupting from a broken sewer line and then the ever present smell of something akin to burning sulfur. You would be just scratching the surface on just how intense the stench is here, so thick you can actually feel it entering your nostrils with each gasp of the putrid hot muck that passes for air.

For split seconds at a time I will dare to open my eyes only to experience the searing pain of smoke and whatever other hellish materials are found floating about relentlessly bombarding my eyeballs.  In those minuscule moments of sight I can catch glimpses of light, but only the extremely dim light of what appears to be glowing coals at my feet. That would explain why I can’t just stand still. I am forced to keep lifting one foot after the other so that one foot can catch a brief respite from the fires that are constantly licking at my feet. Obviously sitting or lying down is out of the question, in spite of the fact that every muscle in my feet, legs and back is screaming out for just even a brief moment of rest. My skin is in a constant state of intense itching and pain. Imagine a mosquito or deer fly bite at the height of its reaction on your skin. Then imagine every inch of your skin covered in these same bites from head to toe. No amount of scratching can bring any relief, but I still constantly scratch in hopes that just maybe some relief can be found, but it is an utterly hopeless effort.  

I can’t utter a single word. My tongue is swollen to twice its size from sucking in the constant heat, smoke and putrid particles. Oddly enough though, I am able and compelled to emit the horrifying guttural sounds along with the sea of uncountable souls that surround me. Souls that are here for the same reason I am. However, with the persistent darkness that can’t be overcome by the dim light from the coals and the inability to even open my eyes for but minuscule moments; I can’t even begin to try to find someone I might know, someone that I might share my intense sorrow with. I might as well be the only person here, utter and complete loneliness.

As bad as the physical element is, it can’t even come close to the agony of knowing that this didn’t have to be. Frankly speaking, the truth was all around me. It was so obvious. Yet time and time again, I pushed it away. The not so subtle hints were everywhere; from the magnificence of the clear night sky, to the majesty of a snow-covered mountain top; from the phenomenal intricacy of a single flower, to the miraculous growth of a baby within a womb. The evidence was there. The multitudes of flowers, plants and creatures of all sizes from the tiniest bugs to the largest whales had the very signature of the Creator stamped upon them. His signature could be seen stretching across the heavens day and night, and yet how often I would foolishly cling to the enormous deception that all that was in existence was simply there by accident.  Even within my very being, I somehow knew there was a vast void just waiting to be filled by a loving Father who simply wanted me to believe. That was all there was to it. It was so simple. Oh my God, why did I choose to ignore the truth again and again and again?

How many times did I hear the truth spoken, dripping with love from a friend or family member, or those times I briefly paused to momentarily listen to some unknown preacher on TV or radio, clearly sharing about Jesus and what He did for me. It just seemed too easy, to simple. Just believe? What about all those religions and their enormous do’s and don’ts lists that they claimed were necessary to achieve a heavenly destination? Or even the ones that claimed that this very place of intense agony doesn’t exist? Deception was everywhere, but so was the truth. The simple truth that God created the heavens and the earth, that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, but then God in His infinite love and wisdom made a way of escape for mankind when He sent His son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Then all He simply asked for us to do was to simply accept this truth and believe that Jesus Christ paid the whole penalty for our sins by His death on the cross and His resurrection. Oh, had I only believed when I had the chance.

The only hope that is left for me to cling to is that just maybe someone will share the truth with some of my family and friends who are on this same path of eternal hopelessness and destruction. That someone will let them know that God’s word is the truth, that there is a heaven and a hell and that God’s Son, Jesus Christ is truly the way, the truth and the life.

Eternally and sincerely separated from God,

Anonymous Lost Soul

The above description of hell is my imagination of what it might be like. In reality, I suspect that hell will be considerably worse then what I imagine. It was not a place created and intended for mankind. It was created for Satan and his demonic hordes. Sadly though, sin entered into the world that fateful day in the Garden of Eden and along with it, death. That is why God sent His only begotten son Jesus Christ into the world to make a way of escape for His children. By Jesus’ death and resurrection, He defeated sin and death once and for all and opened up the door of salvation for all who believe. But therein lays the key, for all who believe. Everyone has a choice. The truth is there for all to see. It is as obvious as the nose on our face. Unfortunately, so many disregard the truth for the multitudes of deceptions from the pit of hell until it’s too late. I encourage all who may read this to search the Word of God for the truth. Find out for yourself. Don’t take my word for it. Within the pages of God’s Word you will discover the truth and the truth will set you free!

Romans 6:23 (NLT) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 13:41-42 (NAS) The Son of Man will sendforth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdomallstumblingblocks, and those who commitlawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jude 23 (NLT)Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

Matthew 25:41 (NLT)Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.’

John 8:32 (NLT) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

In Jesus’ Amazing Love,

Brother Mark

 

Mark’s God Thoughts for Sunday, March 30, 2014

THE LOTTERY REVISITED 

Like many of my neighbors, friends and relatives, as well as most that walk the face of this earth, I have debt. I frequently refer to it as a “mountain of debt” of which I would be so overjoyed if God would find it as part of His will to cast this mountain into the sea.

 I occasionally get the misguided idea that God needs my help to remove this debt, namely by playing the lottery. You see, I want to make it easy for Him. As I so often do, I tend to put God in a box and put limitations on Him. Naturally, I know my mountain is much too big for God to handle without using man’s convenient games, obviously in place for this purpose. From my perspective, if He would simply move on behalf of those little numbered balls and manipulate them in such a way to match the numbers I’ve played, that mountain would be removed faster than I could say “silly waste of hard earned funds.” I’m even guilty of looking for signs; little subtle hints that maybe God is encouraging me to play this time so He can do His little manipulation thing. And boy, did I ever get a huge sign a couple weeks back.

When visiting your local grocery story, how often does the tally come up as an exact even number (e.g., $61.00 even)? Not often, if my personal experience is any indication; maybe once every few hundred grocery purchases. So when the gentleman in front of me was told his total was $61.00, I said to myself, that doesn’t happen too often. He then proceeded to pay that total in cash with exact change. I thought nothing of that at the moment. The clerk than proceeded with my order, which came to the exact even total of $47.00! Now there were two highly unlikely events in a row. What’s going on? And then, the kicker; I was planning to pay cash anyway, and it just so happened, I had exact change as well. How often does that happen, two exact even totals in a row and both of us pay cash and just happened to have the exact change; one in a million; maybe one in several hundred million? Maybe about the same odds of winning the lottery jackpot! Lord, is this a sign? But it didn’t end there!

Following the grocery store I headed to my favorite gas station. Yes, they just happen to also sell lottery tickets, but I sincerely needed gas too. Just before swiping my card I glanced up at the previous person’s gas total, $100.00 even. WHOA; another exact even number. Another sign! It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that God was surely sending me sign after sign after sign. I scrambled into the snack shop to take care of business as quickly as possible. My mountain of debt was about to be moved. I made my typical purchase, one set of numbers for each game, a grand total of $4.00. You see, as much as I sensed I needed to help God, I knew He only needed a little help. He could do the rest. He only needed one set of numbers, right!? And then, even more confirmation! As I walked out of the snack shop, I couldn’t help but notice the first two gas pumps had exact even totals from the two previous customers. What’s the likelihood of that, one in a billion? All of those even numbers, one after the other!? It was in the bag. The wheels in my head started spinning. The debt is in the ocean.

You can imagine how I felt over the course of the next two days when reality sunk in. What did I miss? The signs were so obvious. What are you saying Lord? This wasn’t one of those opportunities You wanted to show me the futility of some of my actions, was it? Are You trying to tell me that You don’t need human intervention to accomplish Your plans? Are You trying to tell me that I should wait on Your perfect timing and let You give me the wisdom to handle my precarious financial situation? It does seem like You always make a way where it seems like there’s no way. I must admit, no matter how difficult things get sometimes, You always come through at just the right moment.  So I just need to put my faith and trust completely in You, right? Sometimes the truth of God’s word is tough to swallow, but it always digests so well once inside.

Did I learn my lesson once and for all with this recent adventure? Hardly! It took one more interesting set of circumstances last week. I was just thinking maybe I would give God one more chance to get those numbers right for a measly four buck investment. Besides, I was almost on empty and my gas station was just up the street.

Now, I’ve been going to this gas station a couple times a week for several years. Until this visit, I had never seen the station too packed to make stopping for gas a problem. Not only was every pump busy and some with cars waiting, even the spots that were available for waiting were on the wrong side for my gas cap location. I was literally shut out at my favorite gas station. I reluctantly turned around, and knowing I was on fumes, I would have to go to the next closest station. Would they even offer the lottery?  

Lo and behold YES! There was still hope. This station was almost empty. I got the pump going and immediately made my way to the cashier. I proceeded to request my tickets and she said sure, five bucks. I questioned her about this, but she said that was the price as she understood it. I figured what the heck, what’s an extra buck? She started ringing the sale up. I can only assume God was maybe giggling with a couple angels by this time, because suddenly the cash register froze. She was apparently a new employee and didn’t know what to do. She just kept pushing buttons to no avail. She finally gave up and said she would have to call management, which usually took about 15 minutes to get a response. Once again, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on. I politely thanked her for her time and walked away with my head held high, well aware that my God cared enough about my well being that He would take the time to intervene in this situation to direct my path.  

I still have debt, but I have a huge God that is so much bigger then my problems. I have a God that cares about every aspect of my life. I have a God that loves me so much that He will intervene from time to time with measures that direct my path; even if it hurts sometimes. I am so thankful for His love. I am so thankful that He cares enough to guide and direct me through the circumstances He allows in my life. He is trustworthy. He is faithful and He is so good!

Matthew 21:21 (NLT) Then Jesus told them, “I assure you, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and it will happen.”    

Hebrews 12:5-6 (NLT) And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, His children? He said, “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes those He accepts as His children.”

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you.

In Jesus’ Amazing Love,

Brother Mark

Mark’s God Thought for Tuesday, March 4th, 2014, in Honor of Pastor Patty Samson

MARCH FORTH!

I never had the privilege of knowing or even meeting Billy Graham. I have listened to and have been blessed by messages from Pastor Chuck Smith via radio for years, but I’ve never met him. I did see him from a distance at a McDonalds in Lake Arrowhead once, but that doesn’t count for much. Mother Teresa was another pillar of faith and love who walked this earth in my lifetime, but alas, I never had the opportunity to meet her. However, I did have the awesome privilege of meeting and knowing Pastor Patty Samson quite well.

Many of you reading this may not have personally known and maybe never even heard of Pastor Patty Samson, but I can only imagine that just maybe you know someone that was directly or indirectly touched by this remarkable woman of God and her infectious love for God and His children. You see this woman just plain loved people. She was the epitome of God’s love. It didn’t matter if you were tall, short, black, white, rich or poor. If your path crossed hers and you were suffering in some form or fashion, or struggling through some sort of tough time or difficulty, chances were quite good that you were going to get touched by her love. She just plain loved to help people, a lot like that man who hung out in Jerusalem a couple thousand years ago. 

By no means am I saying that she was perfect. Only One can make that claim. She had faults just like every one of us. But dog gone it did her goodness ever outweigh her faults. All that was necessary to confirm this was to enter into her home. Immediately the peace that surpasses all understanding would envelop you. I’m not sure if this is the most articulate way to say it but God’s presence was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  

If you’re reading this and you’re human, then there is a strong likelihood that you’ve touched a lot of people in your life. That’s the way God designed it. From the moment He said that it was not good that man be alone He knew that human’s would thrive sharing His love with each other. That’s the way God planned it; that’s the way we were designed. Yes, the enemy has been busy from the beginning trying desperately to get us all to impact each other in the wrong way. Ultimately though, the choice is ours. In every encounter we have with each other, we can either choose to uplift or tear down one another. May I strongly suggest that we all try to choose wisely? Choose to bring joy and hope into the lives of those around you. Choose to strengthen and encourage those you encounter. Not only will you have a positive impact on those that cross your path, you will also discover how quickly the joy and love you dish out, will come right back at you!

And there’s no better way to touch other people then sharing the Good News of what the Son of God did for all mankind. That was what Pastor Patty was all about. In fact, just a few days before she entered into joy everlasting she gathered her family close to her bedside. Her words had become few and far between by this time. With all the strength she could muster she began to utter what would become her final clear words: “There’s one thing I want from you guys and that is that you guys win as many people as you can for Christ! Don’t let anyone get away! Go get them! Go win them!” That was Pastor Patty! Her greatest joy in life was to see people rescued from the enemy’s grip; to see people captured by God’s amazing love. Is it any wonder that God took her home on March 4th? Did you get that, March fourth!? One more time, MARCH FORTH! Our Father in Heaven in His infinite wisdom even chose the perfect day to emphasize Pastor Patty’s life message for all of God’s children, MARCH FORTH!

I can only imagine that when God does the math and sums up all the people that were touched either directly or indirectly through this beautiful vessel of His called Pastor Patty, it won’t be hundreds, it won’t be thousands; in fact, it’s quite possible even tens of thousands will not suffice. No doubt early Tuesday morning, March 4th, 2014, as Pastor Patty began to dance and leap into the arms of her Savior, these words reverberated across the heavens ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. 

Matthew 9:35-38 (NLT) Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.”

1 John 4:7-11 (NLT) Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God — for God is love. God showed how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

In Jesus’ Amazing Love,

Brother Mark

Mark’s God Thoughts for Presidents Day, February 17, 2014

PRESIDENT’S DAY

As I celebrated President’s Day yesterday from the confines of my home (my condolences to all of you who had to work yesterday), I think back to some quotes I have often placed within our church bulletin to honor President’s Day. The following quotes come from three of the most celebrated presidents in American history, one from each of the three previous centuries, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan in that order: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” “We are never defeated unless we give up on God.” Isn’t it interesting that three of the greatest leaders of America were also undeniably strong believers in the Almighty Creator?

No matter how much society denies it, the truth of the matter is that America was founded and lead by Godly men and women and Godly principles and morals throughout most of its history. This is not by any means to say that evil did not exist from the beginning of this great country. Sin has been with America from the beginning, just as it was from the beginning starting with Adam and Eve. However, never in the history of America has there been such a concerted effort like there has been for the last handful of decades to remove God from society, especially in our educational system. And from at least my observation, we are reaping the consequences of a nation on the fast-track to giving up on God as Mr. Reagan mentioned above.

I have read and heard on numerous occasions that most if not all of our notable higher educational institutions founded in earlier centuries were for the most part operated on Christian morals and principles with the Bible as the primary textbook. This was also the case with the hundreds if not thousands of the K-12 educational classrooms that dotted the landscape throughout America. It has really just been in the latter half of the last century that such a great effort was made to remove the Word of God and prayer from our public schools.

Meanwhile, the enemy’s detestably deceitful educational agenda is running hog-wild, from evolution, to sexual promiscuity and perversion, and violence. Of course, our media is going to great lengths to support this agenda. Is it any wonder that hardly a week goes by that we read or hear about a school shooting somewhere in this country?

As bad as things seem, hope still reigns and the King of kings is still on the throne and in control. No matter how bad things get, God’s plan will still prevail. His will will still be done on earth as it is in Heaven. I have read the end of the Bible and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that GOD WINS! Ultimately, the enemy and all of his detestable plans will be destroyed and Christ will reign forever and ever.

Meanwhile, we as believers in Jesus Christ have just got to keep fighting the battle with the greatest of all weapons ever created, PRAYER! Pray for your country every day! Pray for President Obama every day! Pray for your state every day! Pray for your county and your city every day! Pray for all the leaders of this nation every day! Get the picture? We can tear down the strongholds of the enemy in high and low places throughout this nation, and for that matter, throughout the world if enough of us continue day in and day out to PRAY!

PRAYER CHANGES THINGS!

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) 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 heal their land.

 

Matthew 24:3-14 (NLT) Later, Jesus sat on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and asked, “When will all this take place? And will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world?” Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will lead many astray. And wars will break out near and far, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won’t follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will lead many people astray. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come.

 

In Jesus’ Amazing Love,

Brother Mark

THE DEAL

I remember the call so clearly. After researching the handful of TV options out there a few months ago, I decided to go with the company that had the best Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Being a sports fan, I have come to greatly appreciate the ability to record numerous telecasts, often at the same time, and then watch them at my leisure. Additionally, with a DVR, I don’t have to endure Mr. Busch frequently trying to convince me to drink his beer or some silly little reptile trying to convince me I need to change my insurance plan.

Of much greater importance though, between family, work and ministry, I just flat out don’t have the time to sit through a three-hour ball game. Admittedly, I have always thoroughly enjoyed listening to Vin Scully broadcast a Dodger game, and I will often let the game play for an inning or two, but invariably, with my trusty fast forward button, I almost always give in to fast forwarding through the “in-between action” parts of the telecast and will ultimately see the most critical parts of a ball game in less than an hour.

This is especially beneficial with NASCAR racing. I know some of you out there are diehard NASCAR fans who will watch the entire four-to five-hour telecast from beginning to end. However, I also believe that some of you, like me, eventually resort to jumping from yellow flag to yellow flag in hopes of seeing a spectacular wreck (hoping, of course, that no one gets hurt) and then watch the last 20 or so laps to see how it finishes. All to say, that is why I chose to go with this particular company. As far as I was concerned, they had the best DVR available in my neck of the woods. But, if you think I am simply taking this opportunity to “directly” give this particular “TV” company some free advertisement, think again. Let’s get back to that phone call.

In addition to the DVR, I was lured in by “the deal” that this company was offering. If memory serves me correctly, it was something like $29.95 for approximately 250 channels (220 of them of which I would likely never watch). They were also tossing in numerous “pay” movie channels from several cable broadcasters at no extra cost for the first three months. Has anyone else discovered as I did that all these broadcasters must be in cahoots? I searched and searched thousands of movie titles during that entire three-months, hoping to take advantage of my trusty DVR, only to discover that they all seemed to be rebroadcasting the same handful of movies again and again. I doubt I found more than a dozen movies worthy of taking up space on my DVR. Finally, they threw in the “NFL” package allowing me to watch every NFL game through the entire season. Given the fact that the games that interested me appeared on “regular” channels already, I dare say I never had to resort to this package even once.

Bottom line is this: they offered me what appeared to be an unbelievable deal for only $29.95. But! By the time our 20- to 30-minute phone call dragged onto its completion, my awesome “deal” had blossomed to $74.00 and change! The deal truly turned out to be unbelievable. All the undisclosed fees not listed in the ad started “adding” up as the conversation continued, culminating in my desire to become very unchristian-like nearing the end of our call. The straw that almost broke the camel’s back was when he wrapped things up by disclosing that the $74.00 would jump by about 10 bucks if I didn’t agree to an automatic monthly deduction from my checking account. AHHHHHHHHH! It was all I could do not to just hang up, but something told me this same song and dance would be repeated with any other company I opted to pursue. Therefore, I bit the bullet and accepted the “unbelievable” deal. And yes, we all know what’s going to happen to that $74.00 “introductory” deal after the first and the second year! But I got my DVR, right?!

Are you ready for the spiritual application? As we all know very well, the world has all sorts of “deals” out there that in reality is not what they seem when you dig a little deeper (e.g., Television service providers!). However, there is an unbelievable deal out there that is available to everyone on the face of the earth. It’s a deal that definitely falls into the category of seeming too good to be true. In fact, that’s often the reason that many choose to disregard this deal. They can’t grasp how it can be so simple. But in reality, for you and me, it really is so simple, so real, so true and so incredible. In fact, if we can briefly tie it into the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration, it is the greatest Valentine gift that has ever been offered since the existence of mankind. God’s Valentine gift to mankind was His beloved Son Jesus Christ. Because of His amazing love for you and me, He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins.

That was the unbelievably tough part. God the Father couldn’t even bear to look as His Son, Jesus Christ, took every sin that you and I and every soul that ever walked the earth ever committed or will commit upon His shoulders. And in that single unbelievable moment, Jesus opened up the door for the perfect “deal” for any and all who simply believe that He died on the cross for their sins and rose again, and is, at this very moment, preparing a place in Heaven for all those who take this unbelievable deal. That’s it. It’s that simple. All that’s left is for us to simply believe. What an incredible deal!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Romans 5:8 (NAS) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9 (NLT) For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

In Jesus’ Amazing Love,

Brother Mark