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Monthly Message

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GRANDPA - WHY???


     I’m not sure there is anything quite as nice as taking a walk with my grandchildren on beautiful fall evenings -- kicking leaves and answering the never-ending “Why, Grandpa?” questions as we walk. As we slowly pass by each house, they want to know why pumpkins, why corn stalks, why falling leaves, why turkeys, why is it getting dark so early, why do I like to watch football, why do I talk so long and loud on Sunday mornings, and so on and so on and so on.  I am exhausted not from the walk, but from the talk. My grandchildren have their grandmother’s DNA.  

November is a time to talk until we’re exhausted about why it is good to be alive as God’s children under His care.  Thanksgiving is in November and that makes this second-to-last month of the year one of my favorites (Don’t forget: 10AM worship on the 26th!). Yes, I love the food, but even more I like the focus. Every November here in my beloved church home with my close church family, we have the opportunity to both give thanks and to make financial pledges to the mission and ministry that God has given His Church. In other words, God gives us a concrete way to give thanks in more than just words. God is so generous to me, and I get to give Him back a thanks offering to show I “get it.”  I like that a lot.  

Why, Grandpa? Why do we make pledges? Well, my dears, it enables us to be in a perpetual state of “thanks-living” all year long through our work and income. God pledges us the forgiveness of our sins, unspeakable joy, peace beyond human understanding, undeserved gracious provision, unconditional love, and total commitment to our eternal welfare. We, in turn, are able to commit ourselves back to Him with thankful hearts in a comparatively small but meaningful way throughout the year. God isn’t haphazard in how He blesses us, so we do not give back to Him haphazardly either. We thank Him on and with purpose! We know through His Word that He is our God, and He knows through our pledges that we are His children.  (November 15 is Stewardship Sunday!)  

I feel like a cowboy on a cattle drive as I seek to corral my grandchildren close to me when they wander here and there while walking and talking. Why, Grandpa, do you have so many meetings about “stuff” these days? (They are very smart, way-above-average grandchildren.) Well, little doggies, important information is shared and decisions are made through the collective wisdom and prayers of God’s family gathered here at CTK.  We’ve got big “stuff” to talk about these days. Hard work, patience, sacrifice, and creative conflict lie ahead of us.  

I give thanks this 2015 Thanksgiving for the opportunity to go through that trying joyful time for the sake of God’s Kingdom here in Memphis. It’s important that all voices are heard as we seek to be faithful to God and listen for His guiding. Like any faithful family made up of different kinds of people with different priorities and needs, there are choices to be made financially and directionally, and it’s important to gently communicate about what’s going on and...why!  

Why this, why that, why the other thing!  Why, why, why!  Why, Grandpa, are you walking faster? Grandpa….Grandpa...come back!!!  

Pastor Chuck  

Posted by Monthly Message at Wednesday, October 28, 2015 | 0 comments

GOD WORKS THROUGH YOU!

 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11

 

Last Thursday, during early voting, I drove to the Agricenter to cast my vote for mayor. When I pulled into the parking lot, I was met with a very startling sight. Thousands of Muslims had descended upon the Agricenter in observance of an Islamic Holy Day. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I knew that Memphis, like any other major city, had a Muslim population, but naively I thought it was relatively small, and, maybe it is, but it sure didn’t look like it. After parking my car I made my way to the voting booth, along with a few other folk, cast my vote, and walked outside back to my car to again wait in line with a lot of people who didn’t look like me, and probably didn’t think like me or believe like me.

I suspect that when you cast a vote, you leave feeling satisfied that you did your duty and, with a little gratitude, participated in a process that most people around the world will never participate in. I say “a little” because one can’t help but ask, “Does it really matter?” or “Will my vote make a difference?” I certainly had these questions in my mind that day, but as I considered that large Muslim contingent, I was hit with the reality that these same questions now press themselves upon us from a “Christian” perspective. Does it really matter than I’m Christian? Does being Christian make a difference? The answer is “Yes! Of Course!” but if we’re honest, we can’t help but have a little trepidation over the rising number of people who are not Christian, and actively so, and I’m not just talking about Muslims. Many others have answered these same two questions in the negative.I think the time has come for a little soul-searching, and I’m not talking about everyone else,I’m talking about you and me.

God is faithful. God is in control. Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus ascended.Jesus promised He will come back. These are the facts. You and I cannot worry and complain that others don’t believe these, or live their lives by these. We must be convinced that the truths of God are just that – irrevocable truths. We must also live our lives by these truths. We also cannot be idle; we must be active, but our activity cannot be confined or defined by casting votes in elections.What activity, then, am I talking about?

I’m referring to the active life of faith which flows forth from Christians when they finally realize that they stand alone, isolated, in the crowd. The kingdom of God always affects the most powerful change not through large numbers of like-minded people, but by the sheer determination of the individual. Every major Christian figure confirms this. St. John on the island of Patmos, Luther, St. Paul, Justin Martyr when he stood condemned before the emperor, and all the saints.

When societal trends are going against the Church and the Christian message, it’s cause for concern, no doubt about it. Join me, please, in remembering that as these same conditions and trends continue, something greater is brewing beneath the surface. God is working, and He’s working not through the Christian masses, but through the Christian individuals.... YOU.

Pastor Mark

 

Posted by Monthly Message at Tuesday, September 29, 2015 | 2 comments

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

    In 1971, Marvin Gaye released “What’s Going On?” one of the most successful records, both critically and commercially, ever recorded. All of the songs come from the perspective of a struggling, inner-city African-American who, upon returning home from the Vietnam War, sees the country he loves unraveling. In track after track, Gaye pours out his soul over poverty, social injustice, inflation, and other maladies. The brilliance of the record lies in that you aren’t merely listening to someone sing about pain; you’re feeling it yourself.

Toward the end of the record something beautiful happens. Your tired soul gets a wonderful reminder about hope and promise, this via the song “God is Love.” As bad as it all is, God is greater. God is with us and God loves us; the best is yet to come.

St. Paul lived during a tough time, a time that was unkind, even oppressive, towards Christians. He lived, daily, with persecution and pain. “What’s Going On?” would have resonated with St. Paul. As hard as it was for St. Paul to be Christian, to share the Gospel with people, and to live out a Christ-like life, he knew that God is greater, that God loves us and the best is yet to come. In his letter to Christians in Rome, struggling with their own walk with Christ, he wrote, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

A Christian is a person who has hope, who believes that these present sufferings and conditions are not all of life.

Often, though, we make the mistake of believing that the real essence of our Christian hope is that earthly life will get better, that wars and persecution will end, financial struggles will abate, social issues will be rightly “dealt with” by the Supreme Court, once and for all. This is not the essence of Christian hope, and St. Paul reminds us of this in 1 Corinthians 15:19. To be sure, we pray and work hard to make our earthly lives better; after all, Jesus bade us do this. More, though, our hope is in the life to come, of what the new heaven and the new earth will be. I have no idea what it’s going to be like, but I guarantee you one thing: it will be an experience far beyond our little ability to grasp it! I can’t wait!

When St. Paul was writing about this future revealed glory what did he mean when he wrote, “in us”? Why didn’t he say “to us”? He didn’t say “to us” because the glory that God will accomplish one day is not only, or even essentially, something external. This glory won’t be something just to look at. No, it will be something we experience to the fullest of our senses, with our entire being.

Summer is winding down and before you know it, we will all be back to the “grind” of school, and work. We will all be reminded, in case we forgot, that life has some ups, and not a few downs. Thank God for Christ the King and all the wonderful people, people like you, that make this Communion of Saints such a special haven of blessing and inspiration. Indeed God has blessed us, and the great thing is, as much as God has blessed us here at Christ the King, it can’t compare to whats coming.

Pastor Mark

Posted by Monthly Message at Thursday, July 30, 2015 | 2 comments

Do You Believe in Miracles?


 

Life of Pi is the award-winning book by Yann Martel. It’s the story of a young Indian boy who, after the tragic sinking of a luxury liner in which he loses his family, finds himself on a raft in the middle of the ocean with two wild animals, a Siberian Tiger and a hyena. For hundreds of days the boy, Pi, manages to co-exist with both of these animals. Eventually, the tiger kills and eats the hyena, but not Pi. Finally, the raft finds land on a small island near Japan. The last chapter consists of Japanese journalists interrogating Pi about exactly just how he managed to survive for hundreds of days, drifting at sea, with a Siberian Tiger. Every time Pi answers a question the journalists are dissatisfied, even skeptical. In the end they don’t believe Pi’s story. Pi insists it’s true. They insist it’s not. If it’s true that Pi survived, it’s a miracle.

Many who read the story side with the Japanese journalists; my dear wife is one of those people. For Pi to survive would mean that incredible odds would have to occur. Illogical events would have to trump logical events. I happen to believe that Pi survived.

Easter presents the same proposition to you as the book does. Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe that something so illogical, so impossible, as a man walking out of a tomb alive, after being dead for three days actually occurred?

 

I believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I pray you do, too. I believe all odds, and all logic, were defied. Here’s why I believe this, and maybe these reasons are the same for you. First, I believe this because Jesus is the Son of God, and not just an ordinary man. Second, Jesus predicted He would do this, as well as the prophets. Third, sin had to be atoned for in both Jesus’ death and resurrection. Fourth, the Bible clearly states this happened, and not just in the Gospel accounts, but also in Acts. The whole New Testament is written in response to the resurrection. Here’s the last reason I believe, and this reason is equally as important as the ones I’ve stated: Belief in the resurrection, the miracle, opens the door for God to work further miracles in me. If I shut the door on the resurrection, then I shut off God. What is so wonderful and important about faith is that it opens us up to God. Those who don’t believe in the resurrection have already died before dying. When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” He meant life now, not just life hereafter.When Jesus told the crippled man to “Rise and go, your faith has healed you,” did Jesus really mean that faith resulted in the man’s being healed? You bet he did. That we don’t see this often indicates that faith is lacking, not God’s power to heal.

Forgiveness of sins is not a doctrine as much as it is a miracle. Faith in the resurrection works a daily revelation of this in our lives, and this is why I say with confidence:

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!

A blessed Easter to you and your family.

Pastor Mark

Posted by Monthly Message at Monday, March 30, 2015