Pastor Mark’s Devotions, April 18

“The Dream”

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Ps 73:26

 

I woke up today tired. Tigger, my kitty, was relentlessly chatting at me that it was mealtime. I heated up a cup of leftover coffee and slipped beneath the blanket on the couch. I put on Pandora, exhaled a long sigh and tried to drink in some praise.

I closed my eyes, and asked the Holy Spirit to come. I called on Jesus and the Heavenly Father to meet me. I needed them – all three – in One. I had thoughts about a devotion for the day but they were just rumblings. My head was in a fog and nothing felt quite right. I asked for something more. I asked for something real. “Lord”, I prayed, “I want to write about something deep.”

Immediately, I remembered the dream.

Last night I had a dream. I don’t know the time that the dream played out in my mind, but can tell you it returned to me clear as crystal.

Doors of a café opened. I entered and began to walk across the floor. At a distance I saw one of my longtime friends. He is a soulmate in the Lord. We have journeyed long and far. We have not talked in years but that means nothing. What we have experienced together, the bond is deeper than time and miles.

I saw people sitting at various tables. The tables and the people were gathered comfortably together with generous room between them. Chris rose from one of the tables to meet me. He had that typical smirky smile on his face. He looked down and opened his arms and brought around that huge hug just like old times.

We moved away from the others to a table of our own in the back. We began to catch up. It was as if no time had gone by. We fell right back into comfortable conversation just like we had been together the day before.

To my left, a young girl, around five years old joined us. She was playful and warm. It’s funny, but another word I would use to describe her was “genuine”. She had straight brown hair that hung to her shoulders. She wore a comfortable cotton dress and her face displayed surprising self-assurance. The comfort I felt as she approached was striking. It’s as if she belonged with us but I didn’t know who she was. I looked around wondering who she was with, but it was as if she was alone. She remained with us.

Chris began to tell me about some of the physical challenges he had faced recently. Someone else approached our table and he began to share with him as well. Our meal was served but I did not notice what food was on our plates. We then grabbed hands together to pray. The young girl moved around between us and our hands formed a circle. Holding her hand, I noticed a warmth and comfort. It felt like wearing a well-worn glove. There was no hesitation; it was as if she reached out for our hands first. It was as if we were surrounded by something wonderful and familiar, and sure.  

The thought crossed my mind that maybe we shouldn’t be holding hands. Because of social distancing, maybe we should separate, but that concern immediately faded away.  We bowed our heads and we gave God our thanks.

Wow! What does this dream mean? I’m not completely sure. Why was this dream given now? I don’t know.

I did not awake from sleep this morning aware of a eureka moment. In the moment, I was feeling fatigued. But then, from a place of weakness, God brought to my remembrance something deep. As the cobwebs cleared, I thought, “Could this have been a kind of glimpse of heaven?” What does heaven look like? I’m not sure. John certainly gives us an incredible glimpse of glory in the book of Revelation. What I do know is what I felt – warmth, comfort, friendship, food, love, concern, embrace, hands held in prayer. I felt the love of a child. I felt hands connected in unity. And right now, I can feel the tears run down my cheeks as I recall this moving moment. 

There is so much we do not know. Jesus told his disciples during his final meal with them, “I have so much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:12) Could there be various pictures of heaven that are all woven in unity? People who have died and been given a glimpse of heaven, they recall the endless melodies of music yet they are all harmonious being played in unity. Whatever awaits us in heaven, the one thing we can be assured of – it all centers around Jesus Christ. All love, peace, feasting, prayer, honor and praise will gather around the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. For our God is Alive. He has Risen and He lives forever. AS WILL WE! Hallelujah!!

P.S. – That young girl who brought so much comfort? You might have already guessed. My hunch – Thank you Holy Spirit! Thank you for something deep! Continue to hold our hands!

I praise you, Lord, with all my heart! Indeed, it is another Holy Saturday!

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark  

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,             your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28



Pastor Mark’s Devotions, April 6

Please note – the videos for the Palm Sunday sermon are now posted on our website – just click the little “video” icon at the far right. (Thanks, Sharon!!)

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“Spread the Word”

Jesus said, “GO home and TELL how much God has done for you. So, the demoniac went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” Luke 8:39

 

EASTER MORNING: “DRIVE THROUGH COMMUNION” –

7:30 – 11 a.m.

EASTER CROSS DECORATED! 

SPREAD THE WORD!

 

I am jumping the gun a bit. This is Monday morning of Holy Week and what’s up with already writing about Easter Morning. We just want you to have time to spread the word. If people want to drive to church and receive Holy Communion while remaining in their cars = we are going to provide the elements for you. The sun is expected to shine. The SON we know will rise. It will be a beautiful Easter morning the celebrate the resurrection of our King. We are going to do what we can to honor him as we also honor the restrictions that have been laid down. The Easter cross will be decorated.                        

 He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed, Hallelujah!!

On that first Easter morning, the angel of the Lord told the women, “Come and see the place where Jesus lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead’”. (Matthew 28:6-7)

The command to “Come and See” and “Go and Tell” has been a directive that has been given many times in Scripture. Easter morning, the women, the most unlikely characters, were invited to witness the evidence of the empty tomb. They  were then directed to share the unfathomable news with their friends. Even though the women’s voices were to carry no weight, there would be no wait for this proclamation. The Gospel of Mark says that the women initially refrained from saying anything to anyone out of fear. But that didn’t last long! Thus, began the spreading of the Easter message that has been spreading over the globe for over 2,000 years.

In the middle of Jesus’ ministry, in the midst of the Decapolis, Jesus calls another most unlikely character to “Go and Tell” the Good News. A demoniac encountered Jesus and was resurrected from a legion of demons. His home was living among the dead, but Jesus raised him to new life. The one restored, wanted to follow Jesus as one of his disciples. But Jesus sends him back to his hometown with the instructions, “Go and Tell how much God has done for you.”

Each morning we are given the opportunity to “Come and See” what God is doing. And then when we see it, to “Go and Tell” anyone who will listen. This is the mission of the church. Whether we gather together in a church building or not, we are to sharing what we know about the One who knows us!

This week, we will not be able to gather together in our sanctuary. But nothing can keep Easter from arriving. And we are determined to do what we can to celebrate Jesus victory over death.

So, we will offer “DRIVE THROUGH COMMUNION” for anyone that wants to participate. The Easter cross will be decorated and “INDIVIDUALLY SEALED” communion sets will be handed out in your cars, as you drive through the parking lot.  

I will be at church from 7:30 a.m. -11:00 a.m.

My thought is you can come to church, receive communion then return home and watch our Easter Worship online.  

We will not be gathering publicly. We will honor safe distancing along with using masks and gloves. The local news covered an Anglican church celebrating in this way yesterday for Palm Sunday.

IF YOU HAVE ANY SAFETY CONCERNS, PLEASE SIMPLY STAY AT HOME!

If you feel directed, Spread the Word.

Worship and Messages will also be on our website for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter!

Pastor Mark

 



Pastor’s April Blog

“The Resurrection of the Dead”

  “If only for this life we have hope in Christ,
we are to be pitied more than all people.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  
I Corinthians 15:19-20
 
In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul speaks the truth about the resurrection. If we apportion our faith in Christ only to this life on earth, we have missed the mark, and are most to be pitied. If we only apply our faith to circumstances in our everyday life, we have not come to understand God’s grand design. Life here on earth, as much as there is to enjoy, is not our home. We are travelers passing through.
 
David is aware of this as he writes in Psalm 144:4,
“Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.”  
 
But we have been created, we have been painted into God’s great masterpiece, if we are willing to receive it. Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, and his resurrection points us to home – our eternal home – the place of paradise. With our feet firmly planted in this life on earth – I’m not sure that we can truly appreciate God’s plan without supernatural help. The Holy Spirit must open our eyes and hearts to the truth of the reality that life here pales in comparison to the life that awaits us.
 
Lord have mercy! Let us know with certainty, that while everything on this earth will surely fade, there is a life in heaven that will never die.
 
Paul knew with certainty that there was a paradise awaiting him. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, he describes getting caught up to paradise and hearing inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 
 
Because of this supernatural experience, Paul writes with conviction and confidence, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:20-21
 
Recently, I have been reading Mary Neal’s second book entitled, “Seven Lessons From Heaven”. Before Mary died and experienced heaven and had a face to face conversation with Jesus, she would call herself a humanist, a naturalist, a “cultural” Christian. She was a successful surgeon and had a loving family. Mary was living a life experiencing all this life had to offer.
 
But when she experienced heaven – she realized in a flash that she was TRULY home. Everything on earth faded away. Her soul was captivated by the unity, harmony and love that exists in Paradise. This is the home we are promised and which awaits us because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
 
That we might KNOW Him fully and the INHERITANCE that awaits us through Him. Come Lord Jesus!
 
Mary Neal describes Seven Lessons that she learned while in heaven. As we approach and celebrate Easter Sunday, ponder these seven lessons and ask the Holy Spirit to do a supernatural work in you – that we might, on this side of the grave, be able to embrace and celebrate all that awaits us in Paradise. God bless you!
  1. Circumstances make sense when seen through heaven’s lens, and the abundant grace we receive from God is the same grace we can freely offer others.
  1. Death is not to be feared, because death is not the end. It is a threshold where we leave our physical selves behind and walk whole into eternity.
  1. Choosing forgiveness releases our burdens and frees us to live fully and joyfully in God’s extravagant love.
  1. Heaven is a reality where we are made whole – no pain, no sorrow, no suffering – understanding prevails, relationships are reconciled, and we will be with God and our loved ones forever.
  1. Big miracles happen sometimes; personal miracles happen often. God invites us to notice His miraculous presence all around.
  1. God has a plan for each of us – full of hope, purpose, and beauty, and He wants us to discover it.
  1. In our mistakes and failures, tragedies and losses, God never leaves us. His goodness and love surround us. In His time, beauty blossoms in all things.
He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! 
Love in Christ,
Pastor Mark