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This site is devoted to providing teaching, admonition, encouragement, and information to my people at Faith Presbyterian Church, Gainesville, Florida. Pastor Marion Clark.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Clark Exchange 

The Wards are the first to go on the Clark Exchange. Daniel Ward is looking for yard work. He has done work for Bill Barker, if you would like a reference.

Tara is in the market for a tall bookcase. The Wards are in the church directory.

By the way, if anyone wants to get rid of bricks, Everall Peele and Craig Meyers are interested.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Say That Again? 

1. Man's way leads to a hopeless end -- God's way leads to an endless hope.

2. A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.

3. He who kneels before God can stand before anyone.

4. In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma--but never let him be the period.

5. Don't put a question mark where God puts a period.

6. When praying, don't give God instructions - just report for duty.

7. We don't change God's message -- His message changes us.

8. When God ordains, He sustains.

9. Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory position.

10. Never give the devil a ride -- he will always want to drive.

11. Nothing else ruins the truth like stretching it.

12. Compassion is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back.

13. He who angers you controls you.

14. Worry is the dark-room in which negatives can develop.

15. Be ye fishers of men -- you catch them & He'll clean them.

Decoding the Da Vinci Code 

The Christian Study Center would like to invite you to a lecture on Friday, April 2 at 4:00 PM in Room 282 at the Reitz Union. The lecture is titled "A Historian Decodes The Da Vinci Code" and will be given by Dr. C. John Sommerville, Professor of History at the University of Florida and author of many books, including: "How the News Makes Us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Society", and "The Rise and Fall of Childhood." The lecture will discuss some of the historical claims made in Dan Brown's best-selling novel, "The Da Vinci Code". Specifically, Dr. Sommerville will examine issues about church oppression/suppression of minority views, alternative gospels, religous conspricay, etc. "The Da Vinci Code" will be evaluated in the context of recent historical scholarship as Dr. Sommerville explores the book's relationship to current cultural trends. Joffre and Graham Rowan will be going from Faith.

Tuesday Test 

How well do you know church denominations?

1. John Wesley is credited with founding a movement that became this
denomination named for his systematic approach to spiritual life.
2. The English say Anglican; the Americans say...
3. This church's name obviously comes from this German reformer.
4. Mostly found in New England, this church's name comes from its form of
government which is very similar to that of Baptists.
5. Count Zinzendorf was a leader in this movement which was known for evangelism
and missionary zeal; many of the followers settled in Bethlehem and Nazareth
(towns in Pennsylvania).
6. This denomination points to the pentecostal revivals at the turn of the 20th
century as its beginnings. It is probably the largest of the pentecostal churches.
7. It was organized in 1845 in Augusta, GA and has become the largest Protestant
American denomination.
8. Whatever offshoot they may be, they look back to John Knox as their father.
9. This "world-wide" church's story is perhaps the most amazing of all. Founded on
unorthodox teachings and once regarded as cultic, it became orthodox in the
1990s.
10. This African-American denomination was formed in the early 1800s in
Philadelphia as an offshoot of the Methodist Church.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Missing Banner 

Did you notice one of the banners about The Passion website missing? The ropes were cut. Evidently it was purloined (a fancy word for stolen). The question is who and why? It seems only a Christian would want it, but then how could a Christian steal it? If a nonChristian, what would he do with it? Joffre speculates that it is hanging in a college student's room. I suppose he understands better the way such a mind works, but it is hard for me to imagine how such a banner would appear "cool" hanging on a wall. Oh well, like having a Bible stolen, maybe now it will reach out to the real people we want to reach.

Sunday's Highlights 

I want to take us back to the first scene we looked at, that of the soldiers tossing dice. They played a game to win Jesus’ garment that they admired. What they needed was the garment that Jesus was dying on the cross in order to give – the garment of his righteousness. For Jesus did not die only to achieve forgiveness of sin, but to make sinners righteous. For all the good nature that Mary possessed and her righteous way of living, she did not possess the righteous nature that would allow her entry into God's heavenly sanctuary.

But on the cross Jesus makes the great exchange. He takes upon himself our sins and guilt, and gives to us his righteousness.

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:21-24).

Here is the song Mary could have, indeed, probably did at sometime sing:

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10).

Such garments are available to all who will receive.

Clark Exchange 

My stack of bricks have been claimed. I had three requests for them. If I had known how much interest there was, I would have held an auction! Seeing how successful that was, I am offering this site for other Faith Church members and friends to give, exchange, or sell. Just email me and I will get it on the site. Think about services to offer as well. A number of you make crafts and offer professional services. Young folks may want to offer babysitting and yardwork, etc. If we get enough submissions, we can even devote a site to this.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Bricks 

I have a stack of bricks, at least 320. Does someone want them? You just have to pick them up and take whatever broken ones there may be. Give me a call or email me.

Friday's Lessons 

I learned a lot yesterday. A dirigible is the original word for blimp. Stuart Peele was a mortuary apprentice because, as he said, he liked people. Mary Lee Sonke knows all the motions to "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." There are at least 50 verses to "O My Darling," all of which are morbid. Joan Prange plays golf, at least on the same level as Craig Carter, who, by the way, is a tournament champion. The one thing I did know is that you never know what Benson Cain is going to say next!

Friday, March 26, 2004

Officers to Party 

Tonight the elders and deacons are getting together for a party to welcome the new deacons. Hopefully the neighbors will not complain about the racket.

Getting Ready for Sunday 

Mary is the next character in the sermon series. All who have seen The Passion find Mary to be the element that keeps the movie "sane." She is both our respite from the brutality and also the one who most moves our emotions. And yet, of all the messages I have given so far in the series, this will be the one most likely to draw angry reactions to what I have to say. Pray for the Spirit to give me true discernment in what I preach and to give all hearers the ears to hear.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

From Our Kids 

The kids in KidsQuest were asked to explain in their own words how God has made a
way for us to come back into a happy and holy relationship with him. Here are their answers.

It's amazing to think about what Jesus did on the cross. It just doesn't make sense that something as heartbreaking as this can fill you with more happiness and joy than anything else. Who is Jesus to be a whipping boy? And who are we to be in heaven with God? And it also doesn't make sense that all this had to happen because of one man, Adam, and yet it also happened because of the whole human race, for Adam represented us all, and we fell with him in his first sin. And our greatest blessing is John 3:16, the most outstanding verse in the Bible, or at least the message that it tells us. Thank God for The Covenant of Grace!!!!! (Jonathan)

God has given us the Bible to tell us what God did and He gave us His Son
to die on the cross to take away our sins. We must believe in Jesus to go
to heaven and become happy and holy. (Matthew Ehrlich)

God made a way for us to come back into a happy and holy relationship with Him by sacrificing Jesus. (KJ)

1) believe in God 2) ask Jesus to forgive your sins (Alex Yun)

God sent his son, his only son to take on flesh and die on the cross for our sins and it is his blood that saves us. And because he died our sins can be forgiven so we can live with him when our bodies die. Why his death works for us is he was sinless and did not have a sin nature like us and he took our sins and was put in the grave and rose again leaving our sins behind in the grave. (Mikey Lewis)

Craig Carter Unedited 

Craig Carter will be the speaker at MIC next Tuesday night. If I seem a bit nervous and preoccupied this Sunday, you will know why! Men, you can sign up this Sunday to come.
Supper begins at 6:30.

Deacons to be Ordained 

New deacons will be ordained and installed this Sunday - Ross Prange, Brian Shepard, and Christian Weiss. We will have a ceremony at both services.

Contributions 

I would like to get some contributions from you. No, I don't mean money. It's time for you to write. How about sending me your Christian testimony. Don't worry about your grammar or spelling. I'll edit. You'll look like a polished writer when I'm done. You don't have to tell the whole story if its too long. You can tell parts, like what event or person made a significant difference for you. Email it to me at mclark@fpc-gnv.org. Let me know whether or not I can attach your name.

Thursday Answers 

Name the Beatles' songs these lyrics come from.

1. And when I touch you I feel happy inside. I Want to Hold Your Hand
2. When I'm home everything seems to be right. It's Been a Hard Day's Night
3. I think I'm gonna be sad, I think it's today, yeah. She's Got a Ticket to Ride
4. There's a shadow hanging over me. Yesterday
5. Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors. Help
6. He's as blind as he can be, just sees what he wants to see. Nowhere Man
7. Tres bien ensemble. Michelle
8. Ah, look at all the lonely people. Eleanor Rigby
9. Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter. Here Comes the Sun
10. And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree. Let It Be

So, how did you do?

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Third Lesson 

Listen again to the words of the second thief: "Do you not fear God, since we are all under the same sentence of condemnation?" That is the question for us all, for we are all born under the same sentence of condemnation. All of us fall short of the glory of God. All of us stand in need of redemption. And what these thieves serve to proclaim to us is that redemption can indeed be found for any of us under this same sentence of condemnation if we will but fear God and turn to the Christ of the cross.

Don’t let your heart become bitter and hard against God. You know his heart. It is there in Christ on the cross. Jesus said that when you see him you see the Father. Well, there he is suffering to save you from suffering. There he is receiving the sentence of condemnation so that you may not bear it. Your redemption is in Christ’s and the Father’s hearts. Put away all your excuses about Christian hypocrites and bad experiences. Put away your fears that you are beyond redeeming, that Christ could not save someone like you. Put away your fears that it is too late for you. The choice is yours as to which thief is telling your story.

What do you have to do? All the thief could do was keep hanging. He could not prove his repentance with good deeds. What do you have to say? Do you have to get all the theology down pat? All the thief knew to say was, Remember me. Say such words from your heart, and you will learn that Christ, that your Father, has never forgotten you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Da Vinci Code 

Want to know more about this bestseller and the information it is pushing about the "real" Jesus? Dan Johnson, pastor of Trinity Methodist, has an excellent message about it. Look it up at http://www.trinitygnv.org/Publications/Publications.htm.

No Man an Island 

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee... Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels as gold in a mine and be of no use to him; but this bell that tells me of his affliction digs out and applies that gold to me, if by this consideration of another's dangers I take mine own into contemplation and so secure myself by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

This quote is from John Donne's meditations, written in 1624. For all his meditations, go to http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/donnebib.htm#devotions. Scroll down to near the bottom of the page.

Good Death 

I want you to consider one other thief – Barabbas. John also referred to him as a robber. Barabbas is little more than a name to us. He says nothing; there is no description of how he acted in the story. He is simply the man who was let free in place of Jesus. Barabbas seems to be the “lucky” one of the three criminals. An agonizing death was before him and he escaped. Perhaps he was captured another time; perhaps he lived to old age and died a peaceful death. But know this: he did die. And know this as well: if Barabbas died unrepentant, he entered into the same agonies as the first thief on the cross. We speak of bad death and good death. To die young is bad; to die in old age is good. To die in pain is bad; to die without suffering is good. Understand this: it is not the circumstance that makes a death good or bad; it is the condition of the heart when the death takes place. For if the heart has kept out Christ, then death leads to agony; but if the heart possesses Christ, then regardless of the suffering that accompanies death, it becomes the entry into Paradise. And that is a good death.

Tuesday Test 

I've given a lot of trivia tests. It is time to give a test on real knowledge. Name the Beatles' songs these lyrics come from.

1. And when I touch you I feel happy inside.
2. When I'm home everything seems to be right.
3. I think I'm gonna be sad, I think it's today, yeah.
4. There's a shadow hanging over me.
5. Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.
6. He's as blind as he can be, just sees what he wants to see.
7. Tres bien ensemble.
8. Ah, look at all the lonely people.
9. Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter.
10. And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Daily Devotions 

Thanks to Christian Weiss for his devotions in Judges. On Wednesday, Dan Sonke takes us through Ruth, then Joffre Swait starts us off in 1 Samuel.

Comments 

Pastor Clark just installed a new "comments" feature on this page. If you have anything you'd like to say in response to any of his posts, simply click on the word "comments" below the post, and a window will appear for you to enter the comment in. That window will have three different lines for your name and personal info, and a big area for you to type your comment into. When you're done, simply click on "post," and voila, your comment will appear on this page.

Below the entry lines for your name and email, you will find a line entitled "url." That is for you to enter your own website address, if you have one. That way folks reading your comment can visit your site if they like. You don't need to enter any of the personal information, although it would be nice to not get too many comments from "anonymous!"

Pastor Clark's looking forward to getting your feedback!

College and Singles Lunch 

Thanks to Bill and Nancy Montgomery for a fun end-of-the-school-year lunch yesterday. We learned that if you need a ride to Lowe's or any hardware store, that Megan Roderick will be glad to drive you.

The Bus Has Left 

The bus carrying the Cono Choir took off at 8:00 this morning. Thanks to everyone able to host the kids in your homes. I've only heard positive comments about the students' behavior. The music was great last night. Special thanks to the Schroeders for supper at the church. Stuart Peele gets special mention for being the duty officer in charge, but in particular for driving his guests this morning in his convertible with the roof down. He gets the "coolest" award.

Sunday Highlights 

For the next three days I will post a lesson from Sunday's sermon. Here is the first:

The first has to do with the contrast between the two thieves. Let me ask, why does one turn bitter and another remorseful, considering they were under the same circumstance? More than any other reason, circumstance is the one I’ve heard for why people drop out of church and turn away from God. “I had a bad experience in church.” “If you had suffered like I have, you will understand why I don’t believe anymore.”

But stories abound where the same experiences let to totally different reactions. One man goes to war and loses faith in God because of the carnage he experiences. How can there be a god? Another turns to God because he sees evil and knows the only hope is in God. One woman is abused and turns from God because he did not protect her. Another abused woman turns to God because of abuse because only in him does she find peace.

It seems to me that ultimately each of us is responsible for the decisions we make. As much as we would like to blame or credit an experience or person, what these outside influences are doing is bringing out what is in our hearts. The heart of one thief was filled with bitterness; the heart of the other, before it was too late, had somehow changed. What do the circumstances of life reveal about your heart?

Friday, March 19, 2004

Getting Ready for Sunday 

We consider the thieves on the cross this Sunday through Luke 23:39-43. I think what the first thief says is more to be expected than what the second thief says. Take some time to read and reflect on what the second says, how profound it is. What he says to the first thief, he could have said to everyone at any time. Do you know what I mean?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Boxer 

Tony Freese fought Joe Frazier and Muhammend Ali and lives to tell about it.

Thursday Answers 

Let's judge how much you learned in Joshua.

1. In chapter one, God promised success for Joshua if he would be sure to do what? be careful to do all the law Moses commanded; or Book of the Law shall not depart from his mouth; or meditate on it day and night
2. What signal was Rahab to give that would protect her family from being killed during Jericho's destruction? tie a scarlet cord in the window
3. What did twelve men take out of the Jordan River for a sign of God's leading the people into the Promised Land? stones with which to make a memorial
4. What did the "new generation" of men have to do when they entered the land? be circumcised
5. What was the "sin of Achan"? he kept and hid plunder for himself
6. What were the two mounts on which the people proclaimed the curses and blessings of the covenant? Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal
7. How were the Gibeonites able to deceive Israel? pretended to have traveled from a distant country
8. What tribe was not allotted land and why? Levites; the Lord is their inheritance
9. What incident almost led to civil war? tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh who stayed on the eastern shore of the Jordan River built an unauthorized altar
10. Complete Joshua's most famous quote: "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Wednesday Prayer 

Every Wednesday, from 1:30-2:30, is a ministers' prayer meeting. Rob Pendley of Christ Community Church, Ty Keys of Grace Community Church, Benson Cain, and I pray together. If you have prayer requests for us, email me at mclark@fpc-gnv.org. Did you know that prayer is part of our job description as ministers? We take it from the apostles' job description as given in Acts 6:4: We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

From Gay Greninger 

Here is the latest letter from Gay Greninger, our missionary in Okinawa.

Saturday, March 6th, was a very special moment at OCSI. The first outdoor athletic event, a soccer game, was played on the OCSI athletic field! From my "sky box" on the 4th floor of the missionary apartment building, I witnessed the OCSI alumni team win its victory over the high school soccer team with a 1-0 score. Afterward we all shared fellowship together at in the cafeteria to celebrate this "desire-accomplished" event. For many of you this may not sound like a great accomplishment, however, since its beginning in 1957, OCSI has never had a field to hold any athletic events and all games have been played elsewhere. It is our desire to see the Lord use this new facility to open new ministry opportunities.

Each year the upper elementary grades have a month's emphasis on world missions. During February the third through fifth grades learned about the countries in the 10/40 window where there is a need for the Gospel of Christ to be preached. They prepared posters and presentations to be shared during the Culture Fair. Students from the lower elementary classes, "passports" in hand, traveled from class to class to learn about these countries. Parents were asked to send in a variety of dishes from various countries which were shared by students at lunch in an international buffet.

Prayer Requests:
April is the month when school begins in Japan. Though OCSI follows an American school calendar, we do accommodate our Japanese families by starting one new class every spring. This class is called K-4C. It will begin on April 13th. Please ask God to open the hearts of these students to learn about Jesus.

We were happy to welcome a new missionary family to the faculty this past week--the Schneiders. Renee Schneider will be teaching the K-4C class. Ed will be filling the vacancy that exists in our 4th grade class due to the loss of Kris Boyes who is still recovering from mono. Please pray for the quick adjustment of the Schneiders and their 4 children to Okinawa. The children are in 9th, 6th, 4th and 1st grades.

My Saturday morning English class will also begin a new class on April 17th. We will be studying together in the book of Genesis. Please pray for the addition of a few new faces to this intermediate level group of adults.

Every corporation is required to have an annual meeting. These meetings are familiar to us all as we hear the reading of the minutes, hold the election of officers, approve the annual budget, etc. Historically, however, the OCSM meetings have brought a variety of emotional outpourings. This week will be the annual meeting for the school and it is going to be no exception in its importance to the running of the school. As you conclude the reading of this letter, I would ask you to please pray for our ministry that God would allow peace to reign within its leadership ( Psalm 133) as we seek to be available to serve the Lord together.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

MIC Supper Speaker 

Craig Carter will speak at the MIC supper March 30. Come hear the man "who knows everybody" and has done just about everything, as he regales us with stories from his life. Perhaps he will tell about the time he broke his back in a motorcycle race.

College & Singles Lunch 

The last C&S lunch of the year is the Sunday at the Montgomerys. We are loose in our definition of who fits these categories. If you were once college age and/or you use to be single, you may still come.

Cono Choir 

The Cono School Choir from Iowa will be singing Sunday night, 55 voices strong. This is a Christian boarding high school. We still need to find accomodations for two. Who can help us? Responsibility includes sleep for Sunday night, breakfast in the morning, and returning them to church with a bag lunch by 8:00.

The concert will be part of the evening worship service which starts at 6:00 and will conclude by 7:30. The guests do not go to the homes until after the concert. Supper will be provided for them at the church.

Tuesday Test 

We finish the book of Joshua in our daily devotions today. Thanks to Don Nilsson for his leading us through with his devotions. Christian Weiss will take us through Judges. Let's judge how much you learned in Joshua.

1. In chapter one, God promised success for Joshua if he would be sure to do what?
2. What signal was Rahab to give that would protect her family from being killed during Jericho's destruction?
3. What did twelve men take out of the Jordan River for a sign of God's leading the people into the Promised Land?
4. What did the "new generation" of men have to do when they entered the land?
5. What was the "sin of Achan"?
6. What were the two mounts on which the people proclaimed the curses and blessings of the covenant?
7. How were the Gibeonites able to deceive Israel?
8. What tribe was not allotted land and why?
9. What incident almost led to civil war?
10. Complete Joshua's most famous quote: "As for me...

Monday, March 15, 2004

The Real Rocky 

What church member boxed Joe Frazier (in Madison Square Garden) and Muhammed Ali?

Game Night 

It just wasn't my night at Game Night. How did I know that Everall Peele was a Boggle professional? Then I'm recruited for Taboo, but on the team opposite to my wife's. If you think I'm competitive... So I take on Christian Weiss in ping pong, and what a coincidence...my blood sugar level drops again while I'm playing. It's only against him that it happens. Christian has warned me about Jake Houck who almost took him. We had a good turnout. Two men came with Thomas Johnson from House of Hope. Other guests joined us, as well. It was a lot of fun.

Sunday Highlights 

It is not difficult to square the accounts of these two historians with the gospels. It is only a matter of willingness to give the gospels a fair hearing… Any good lawyer could give a number of scenarios that would fit the facts given by the gospels and historians. It ultimately comes down to our preconceptions about scripture. Skeptics accuse believers of being prejudiced in favor of scripture. We don’t deny the charge; but we also accuse the skeptics of prejudice against scripture. And we claim that our favoring scripture forces us to take the time and make the effort to learn what scripture truly has to say to us. Dismissing scripture is easy to do and allows the skeptic not to have to change what he believes, and more importantly to him, how he lives.

Of all the characters in our story, Pilate may be the most despised. Pilate knowingly condemned an innocent man, the Son of God. Judas awoke to his guilt of betraying an innocent man after his deed. Pilate was fully convinced of Jesus’ innocence before condemning him. The religious leaders thought they were carrying out God’s will; Pilate was acting against the signs of his gods and against his own conscience. As far as being put into a bind by the religious leaders, Pilate had backed himself into a corner. If he had not acted ruthlessly against them and the Jews, he would not be in his predicament.

Are we to pity that? Do we pity the politicians who sacrifice our welfare to keep their positions of power? Would we sympathize with the politician who uses his office to oppress others, and once he gets in trouble, he will sacrifice another person of complete integrity to keep from going to jail?

Isn’t the real reason we sympathize with Pilate is that we are most like him? We Christians are baffled, not by Pilate’s reaction to Jesus, but everyone else who seemed unaffected by him. To us, Pilate’s response to him is exactly how someone should act. Coming face to face with Jesus should be unsettling. Any person ought to be attracted to him whatever his character has been.

But we also sympathize with his betrayal of Jesus. We do not identify with hate, but we do with failure. Pilate acted like Peter and the disciples. When the time came to make a stand, he backed down. How many times have we backed down? How many times have we given into the sinful ways of friends because we didn’t have the courage to do what is right? How many times in business or school, have we taken the world’s route of success because we didn’t trust Jesus to be there for us? The ways of failing Jesus are many.

But Pilate best represents the person who is attracted to Jesus, but fears the price to pay for becoming a follower. He has read the gospels and is moved by Jesus’ teachings. He feels attracted to Jesus as Savior and Shepherd. But he is afraid. What about his reputation among his friends and colleagues? They would think he had become a fanatic. His spouse may feel betrayed. Would he lose his friends and respect among his peers? And what would he have to change about himself? What pleasures will he have to give up? What viewpoints must he altar? He may desire truth, but is any truth worth bearing a cross? Better to let Jesus do that job and watch from a distance, as did Pilate in the movie and in reality.

But is it? Here is what Jesus could have said to Pilate and to all those like him:
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? 37 For what can a man give in return for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:35-38).

Pilate’s dilemma was not that truth is hard to know, but that it is hard to confess. It can be costly to hold, but even costlier is to let it go. How valuable is eternal life? That is the real question that everyone must answer.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Sign Ups 

We've got the Arbor House room furnished thanks to your generosity. We are also ready for the College & Singles lunch. And most of the Cono choir is covered. We still need though about a dozen beds.

Boggle 

I am bringing my Boggle game tonight and will be looking for competitors. Bring your games; even better, bring your friends. Food starts at 6:00.

Getting Ready for Sunday 

Was Pilate the sympathetic character as portrayed in The Passion, or was he the ruthless tyrant that the movie's critics claim he was? I will feature Pilate in my sermon this Sunday as I preach from John 18:33-19:16.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Devotion Update 

Hello, everyone. Joffre here. For those of you who have the Daily Devotions bookmarked, please note that the Daily Devotions are now at www.fpc-gnv.org/devotions.htm. Please change your bookmarks. For those of you who go to the devotions from this blogsite, you do not need to change anything.

Thanks.
Joffre

Jesus' Dad's Name 

This came my way by Marjorie Feinberg:

A Sunday school teacher asked her class, "What was Jesus' mother's
name?"
One child answered, "Mary."
The teacher then asked, "Who knows what Jesus' father's name was?"
A little kid said, "Verge."
Confused, the teacher asked, "Where did you get that?"
The kid said, "Well, you know they are always talking about Verge n' Mary.

Thursday Answers 

Game Night is this Friday. How well do you know these games that have been played?
1. Collect pieces of pie by answering obscure questions. Trivial Pursuit
2. Take some tiles with numbers painted on, then get rid of them by lots of cominations. Rummicube
3. Roll the dice and hopefully get a Chance. Yatsze
4. Get rid of your stack of cards by building on four other stacks. Skip-Bo
5. The cards of this game include Wild, Reverse, Skip, and Draw 2. Uno
6. Give clues to your teammates to guess a word, but you get buzzed if you use censored words. Taboo
7. Put your left foot on red and your right hand on blue. Twister
8. Sink the other person's ships. Battleship
9. Get rid of your stack of cards by building on any number of stacks in the middle faster than your competitors who are vying for the same stacks at the same time. Dutch Blitz
10. Pick five categories, then draw five letters and fill in the blanks as best you can. Facts-n-Five

Come Friday night with some new games and new friends. Food starts at 6:00.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Daily Devotions 

Thanks to Steve Miller for his devotions on Deuteronomy. Don Nilsson is now taking a turn on Joshua.

Religion and Squirrels 

Jim Stakely sends me jokes periodically. Here is another.

There were four country churches in a small Alabama town: The Presbyterian
church, the Baptist church, the Methodist church and the Catholic church. Each
church was overrun with pesky squirrels.


One day, the Presbyterian church called a meeting to decide what to do about the squirrels. After much prayer and consideration they determined that the squirrels were predestined to be there, predestined to be a nuisance, and they shouldn't interfere with God's divine will.


In the Baptist church the squirrels had taken up habitation in the baptistry. The deacons met and decided to put a large plywood cover on the baptistry, flood it, then have a squirrel cookout. The squirrels escaped somehow and, since there was water, there were twice as many there the next week.

The Catholic group got together and decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God's creation. So, they humanely trapped the squirrels and set them free a few miles outside of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back - with other squirrels they met on the trip.

The Methodist came up with the best and most original idea. They baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church. Now they only see them on Christmas and Easter.

Finding Old Friends 

Lately I've been finding old friends through the internet from college and hometown days. I go to Google, type in names with other words that might help zero in on them. One college friend has done well working for Microsoft. Another started his own business manufacturing bags and packaging material. It has been fun reminiscing.

Game Night 

Game Night Friday night. Be there or be square. Food starts at 6:00. I am bringing with me my Boggle game. Those who went on the Jackson, MS mission trip are aware of my prowess in the game, or, may I say, they were amazed by my prowess. Come and invite your friends, neighbors, family, colleagues, and whoever else you can scrounge up.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Tuesday Test 

Game Night is this Friday. How well do you know these games that have been played?

1. Collect pieces of pie by answering obscure questions.
2. Take some tiles with numbers painted on, then get rid of them by lots of cominations.
3. Roll the dice and hopefully get a Chance.
4. Get rid of your stack of cards by building on four other stacks.
5. The cards of this game include Wild, Reverse, Skip, and Draw 2.
6. Give clues to your teammates to guess a word, but you get buzzed if you use censored words.
7. Put your left foot on red and your right hand on blue.
8. Sink the other person's ships.
9. Get rid of your stack of cards by building on any number of stacks in the middle faster than your competitors who are vying for the same stacks at the same time.
10. Pick five categories, then draw five letters and fill in the blanks as best you can. (You want Tara or Joan on your team.)

Monday, March 08, 2004

Sunday Highlights 

I am posting a longer than usual exerpt from yesterday's sermon. It gives a perspective not only about modern day Herods but the churches that try to appease them.

I’ll give you two Herods. Let’s make one a college student. This is the “I just want to have fun” Herod. This Herod knows how to party. He can drink with the best of the drinkers and score with the women. He likes having a good time. He can be rude and lewd during these good times, but he doesn’t mean harm. He expects some day to settle down and become a respectable citizen; maybe even attend church when he has a family. After all, he was raised attending church. He believes in God and would even call himself a Christian. He doesn’t attend now because, well…this is the time in his life to have fun. Church is boring; the members are hypocrites who judge people like himself for their freedom.

There are churches trying to reach Herod on his terms. They promote themselves as exciting and dynamic. If Herod would come to their services and activities, he would have fun. They have cool music and exciting special effects. The only things that they will talk about is how to have an even more dynamic and successful life. And best of all, they tell him he doesn’t have to change. He will be accepted just as he is. Indeed, they will do their best to conform to him. They will even adapt their worship of God to suit him. What he wants will determine what they will do and be.

These tactics work. Herod will attend such a church. He likes being able to have God without God cramping his lifestyle. He feels good about being able to attend church and keep his pleasure loving activities. The church feeds his consumer oriented mentality – that religion is really about feeding his needs and desires. And thus Herod changes the church. Instead of her being the agent of God that confronts people with their sin and calls them to following God, she becomes the marketing agent who lures them to become consumers of her products.

Another Herod to consider is the religious Herod, or, as he would prefer to be known, the spiritual Herod. This Herod desires to be connected to God or whatever the spiritual force of the universe may be. He wants higher consciousness and to feel a sense of purpose in life. He may seek these things in a number of ways. He may join a liberal church which maintains the form of the Christian religion without being encumbered by doctrine. Thus, he can have the prayers, the rituals, and the symbols that make him feel spiritual, but not be bothered with the beliefs that originally had brought them into being.

Another alternative for Herod is to attend a church that has shed itself of the Christian label, such as the Unitarian-Universalist Church. This church is free to select whatever it wants from all the religions and philosophies of the world at any given time. Even belief in God is an optional elective for its members. Herod, then, can feel good about being a church member while believing and doing only what suits him.

Or Herod can follow the most popular route, which is to be spiritual and untied to any institution. Bookstores have whole sections of books dedicated to feeding his spiritual impulses. He can read about heaven from people who have actually been there. He can learn about God from others who have had interviews with him. Channelers will connect him with the departed and other spiritual beings. He can attend seminars, go on retreats, and drop in on meditation services. He can pick and choose what works for him, and never does he have to adapt himself to anyone. No rules, no laws.

Both of these Herods level a charge against Christian churches and all other “institutional” religions. The charge is this: what such churches and religions are really about is control. They want to control people. They especially want to gain control of people’s money, but they also want to control how everyone lives.

What these Herods reveal is how obsessed they are with control, for what they make clear is that nothing is more important to them than control over their own lives. They want no one telling them what to do or what to believe. It makes no difference how wise anyone else may be, nor what position they may hold; no one, no parent, no authority figure of any kind will tell them what is right or best for them. And that includes God. It is fine to “be connected” with God, but not if he tries to butt in on their way of life. They want affirmation with no restrictions attached; and no one at no time had better “judge” them. To judge them is the greatest sin anyone could commit against them.

They want it all. They want the religion without the obligations. They want to be connected with the divine without the divine encroaching upon their authority. They want pleasure without responsibility.

For them the good news of the gospel is bad news. God provides salvation but only according to his plan. Jesus redeems but only on his terms. That is the problem with Jesus. He wouldn’t give Herod Antipas what he wanted, even to save himself, and he want give modern Herods what they want just to win their acceptance of him. He will stroke no one’s ego. Here is Jesus’ call to the Herods of this world: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Mark 8:34).
The irony of the whole situation is this. The Herods fear to lose control of their lives, thinking that it will lead to bondage. And yet, those who have taken up their crosses have found those crosses lighter than expected; for they find themselves carried by their Lord, and they have learned the truth of his other call:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Humor for the Day 

These jokes come courtesy of Kathy Rohrbeck's sense of humor:

There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: "I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program. The bad news is it's still out there in your pockets."

While driving in Pennsylvania, a family caught up to an Amish carriage. Attached to the back of the carriage was a hand printed sign: "Energy efficient vehicle: Runs on oats and grass. Caution: Do not step in exhaust."

A Sunday School teacher began her lesson with a question, "Boys and girls, what do we know about God? A hand shot up in the air. "He is an artist!" said the kindergarten boy. "Really? How do you! know?" the teacher asked. "You know - Our Father, who does art in Heaven... "

A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him in front of the service station. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.
"Reverend," said the young man, "sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip."
The minister chuckled, "I know what you mean. It's the same in my business."

A small son told his father proudly, "I know what the Bible means!"
"Okay, said his father. "So, son, what does the Bible mean?"
"It stands for 'Basic Information Before Leaving earth'"

Sunday after church, a Mom asked her very young daughter what the lesson was about.
The daughter answered, "Don't be scared, you'll get your quilt."
Later in the day, the pastor stopped by for tea and the Mom asked him what that morning's Sunday school lesson was about.
He said "Be not afraid, thy comforter is coming."

The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to, ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. The regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play. "Here's a copy of the service," he said impatiently. "But you'll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances."

During the service, the minister paused and said, "Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected, and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up." At that moment, the substitute organist played "The Star Spangled Banner." And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The Starks 

We have supported Jim and Jeanie Stark over the years as missionaries in the Caribbean. Jim has recently taken a pastorate in Coulterville, Illinois and thus will no longer need our support. They concluded a recent letter thus: "We can see how God has given us invaluable learning experiences through our time with Mission to the World and Ministries in Action. The overwhelming generosity of God's people during our last month (December) and the extended time (January) was deeply humbling and encouraging. God blessed us with an incredible group of individuals as he led you to be part of our support team. Thank you so much for your faithful and generous participation in the ministry to which God has called us!"

Helen Molnar 

Michele Emery's mother passed away Tuesday morning. Her funeral will be Friday at 1:00 in Daytona Beach, viewing at 12:00. I will be attending, should anyone like to join me. Flowers may be sent to Baggett & Summers Funeral Home, 736 S. Beach St, Daytona Beach, 32114. The funeral will be held at The White Chapel Church of God.

Evelyn Hartman 

Evelyn Hartman's funeral is this afternoon at 1:00. Previous Faith ministers, Dale Linder and Laurie Vidal will be participating, as well as Jim Walkup, a childhood friend. Evelyn was a charter member of Faith Church and for many years provided the flowers in the church. Get a Keenager to tell you the stories of her scouring the country side for wild flowers. The family has requested that gifts in lieu of flowers be sent to Faith Presbyterian Church.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Roof 

The men are putting the finishing touches on the new roof today. Thanks to the deacons and Craig Carter for researching the work and seeing that it got done.

Sunday's Highlights 

We should be unnerved by this scene because it shows a travesty of justice committed against not merely an innocent man, but against the true Messiah, the Son of God. It is awful to witness injustice and brutality; it is terrifying to witness the men who by their positions are commissioned by God to welcome the arrival of God’s Deliverer…it is terrifying to witness these men believe that he is a blasphemer, a child of Satan.

They believed Jesus was a bad man. They believed his teachings were heretical, that he lead people away from the holy God of Israel. That is scary. How could one behold Jesus, hear him teach, witness his miracles, and then conclude that “He is possessed by Beelzebul”?

Jesus knew how. The problem was their “hardness of heart” (Mark 3:5). They did not know what they had become. They saw themselves as the true zealots for God. They loved and upheld the law. They were the ones devoted to the study of the law, to its interpretation and enactment. But what they could not do is the hardest job of all, and that is to examine their own hearts by the light of the law. If they had, they would have discovered their true sins, and they would have seen the face of the Messiah when he appeared. As Jesus said, There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me (John 5:45-46).

These men are no different from the millions who continue to reject Jesus. When Jesus made his claim, why did they not check it out? Why did they not look to the scriptures and examine his actions and teachings through their light? Because they had long made their decisions. Jesus came on his own terms and no one else’s. He did not try to endear himself to anyone already sure of themselves, already comfortable with their own opinions. The result is that most people rejected him.

Certainly in American society almost everyone can study the claims of Jesus. There is no lack of materials – be they books or tracts or movies or TV shows or radio and now the internet. Even so, the claims of Jesus are quickly dismissed, just as the religious leaders dismissed his claims back then. There are plenty of ways to rationalize the dismissal. Surely science disproves miracles; certainly in light of so many religions no one can make a claim for the only truth about God; obviously the Bible contradicts itself and is filled with errors; could God really care what someone believes? Why then bother to actually examine the claims about Jesus?

Or there are other reasons not to bother. I had a bad church experience. I know hypocrites who claim to be Christian. I’m just not into religion, but I’m a good person. I just don’t have time.

People don’t know what they have become. They see themselves as tolerant, open-minded people willing to consider reasonable claims, but in reality they’ve closed themselves to any claim for the truth of Christ. As Boice notes, they are no more open to the claims of Christ than Caiaphas or the other religious leaders who pronounced judgment upon him.

And you are pronouncing judgment. Most people consider themselves neutral on the subject of Jesus. It makes them seem humble. Who are they, after all, to claim to know the truth? But the real question is this: Who are they to so casually reject Jesus’ claims? He has made a claim, and everyone must respond. No one is neutral; everyone casts a vote either exalting him or rejecting him. He gives us no other choice.

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26). That is Jesus’ question to us all. He wants an answer.

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