Happy New Year! January 2021

Happy New Year!


Be still my soul, thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;                                                                        All now mysterious shall be bright at last!

(Be Still My Soul, v. 2)

There are many years that we look forward to something different. This year is especially so. It has been a long weary time of dealing with coronavirus. We have been at war with an invisible enemy, and we are ready for things to be better!

It is good to be hopeful, and to look ahead to some new things. So often we do not like change, but in this case we are more than ready to be done with the pandemic. Yes, we are being warned not to “quit fighting too soon!” We need to continue to be diligent in our efforts to stay safe. Yet, we also know that physical safety, is not the only thing that matters. Our emotional health has been tested. Financial health has been tested. So we’re ready for better days!

In the Old Testament book of Joshua, we read of the Hebrews and the end of their long journey, and the new Promised Land they were entering. I have heard it said that people often fear the unknown more, than they do the present trials. And the story of the Exodus reminds us of that fact. There were many times when the people wanted to go back to Egypt. What God was promising for them didn’t seem to be worth the trip.

Who knows what lies ahead of us in 2021? We didn’t know that this past year would be so filled with loss, and fear, and unknowns.

We are hoping that the vaccines that have been developed so quickly will be effective, and will help us return to some things that we need, and enjoy. We are hoping for time together with our families. We are hoping for some vacations, and trips. We are hoping that we can talk to friends, and visit nursing homes, and attend the funerals of our loved ones.

But we don’t know for sure what lies ahead. It’s good to have hope. And our God is a God of hope. In 1 Corinthians 13, we are reminded that 3 things last forever: faith, hope, and love. If we have no hope, we are much more likely to give up.

There is a wonderful promise that we read in the first chapter of Joshua, in the Old Testament. It says, “Have I not commandedyou? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1.9)

As we move ahead into the year ahead, let’s remember God’s promise. He is with us wherever we go! If we are honest, we must even admit that He has been with us this past year too. We have seen blessings along with our difficulties. We have sensed God’s hand of provision. We have spent time with loved ones and friends. Through the lonely times we have still sensed His presence.

Yes, there will be some better days coming! And some hard days too. But, remember that God is with us, wherever we go.

Blessings, Pastor Mark


A Very Pandemic Christmas! December 2020

A Very Pandemic Christmas!

So often we say Merry Christmas! Or Happy Christmas! Or Blessed Christmas! But, a “Pandemic Christmas?” What does that mean?

To me, the word pandemic implies disease, and death, and fear. It implies suffering, and loss of things as they “used to be.” It implies that there are difficult things going on that are out of our control.

In many ways our lives are different this year! It sure feels like we are out of control, and that fear, and suffering, and death are raging all around us. But, isn’t that the kind of world Jesus was born into also? History doesn’t tell us about the diseases that might have been rampant when Jesus was born. But, there was a tyrant king named Herod. There were taxes. There was loss of life– children, fathers and mothers, and people.

And since Jesus’ day, there have been numerous times of pandemic, plague, war, famine, disaster. So often we think we are in control, but then another hurricane comes roaring in. Or a spark creates a wildfire that creates uncontrollable havoc. And all the while, people struggle with hunger, loss of their job, or family strife. “We are not as strong, as we think we are…” sang Rich Mullins.

Into this world, and times like ours– Jesus came! Amidst all of life’s trials– and blessings– and fears– and uncertainties– the Savior came. With His coming came HOPE, and PEACE, and JOY, and LOVE.

I believe these things are still here! Because of Jesus’ coming we have HOPE, PEACE, JOY, AND LOVE. In the midst of our pandemic– we still have an amazing Savior, who offers us His goodness.

During this Advent season, I will be focusing some messages on these gifts that are available. And perhaps together we can learn that a “Pandemic Christmas” may be one which helps us see Jesus a little more clearly. Perhaps a “Pandemic Christmas” will help us appreciate one another a little more as well. The dark times may help us see the light. The hard things may help us realize how much we are blessed…and how much we have! Perhaps the losses we experience– as much as they hurt– will point us to the eternal promises of God. There are promises of living hope, peace that passes understanding, joy that rejoices in all things, and the lavish Love of our Heavenly Father.

And perhaps as you are having yourself a very Pandemic Christmas, you feel like doing something to show your gratitude for Jesus’ blessings. I encourage you to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You can give your money to help others through, the United Ministries, or One Great Hour of Sharing, or thru your church’s ministries, or to someone you know of. You can give your time to someone who is lonely, or needing a friend. You can write a note of encouragement to a “front line Covid worker,” or whoever the Spirit puts on your heart.

Meanwhile have yourself a very Pandemic Christmas. Because even in 2020, Jesus brings HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE… And LIFE EVERLASTING!

God is good. All the time!

Pastor Mark

November 2020

Do you ever wonder what God is up to? What is He doing? Why am I going through this pain, or this loss? Why does my whole world seem upside down?

During 2020, we have probably all wondered this a lot. The covid-19 pandemic, has caused me to ask this, along with other trials. There is an amazing promise in the Bible that is very reassuring to me. It says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.28)

There have been a lot of circumstances lately, where I have wondered “what is He doing?” Or, sometimes I have asked, “isn’t there a better way?” We are not alone in asking. Jesus asked in the garden of Gethsemane, “Lord, isn’t there some other way?” (my paraphrase).

I have discovered that this promise from God in Romans 8, often include Him working in ways that seem to be NOT GOOD. Sometimes I am dealing with pain, or my loved one is. My little granddaughter has had a cast on her arm, due to her not holding on to the sliding pole. You may be going through a painful illness: like covid, or cancer, or back pain. Physical pain, certainly does not seem to be a good thing. But learning to trust the Lord through the pain is good. Learning to praise Him for bodies that heal, or for medicine that reduces pain is a good thing. Learning empathy for others who suffer pain, is a godly thing.

Sometimes people are grieving the loss of their loved one. The death of a loved one does not seem like a good thing. Our loneliness, and the empty places in our lives are too often filled with emotional pain. How can God be at work through the death of a friend or loved one?

Yet, death is the door into God’s presence. It is a reminder to believers in Christ Jesus that we are just passing through this life. A better day is waiting. God would not be doing us good, if He left us here.

Sometimes there are changes in our lives that seem at first to be NOT good. The loss of a job, or the “moving away” of a friend, may make us feel very insecure. The changes in our community, or in our government may make for fear, and questions. Sometimes God is working through people who are ungodly, or evil, or corrupt. This may make us wonder, “God what are you doing?” We don’t see how God can be at work for good, through such persons?

I believe God is The Almighty! He is all powerful. He is able to “work all things together for our good…” And, though I may not see or understand what He is up to, I can be very confident that He is able to do what is good and best for us.

Are you uncertain? Are you wondering why these things are happening? Why has this been such a tough year? I don’t have specific answers for you. But, I do have confidence in God’s ability to work for my good, and yours!

God is good…All the time!                                                                     Pastor Mark

October 2020

The Psalmist David, often gives the Lord his praise and worship because of the ways God has delivered him. Psalm 23.4 says,
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” In Psalm 32.7, he proclaims, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble.”

Years ago in another town I received a call from a lady from church to pray for her family. Her two teen-age grandsons, were visiting at her house. It was after the fu- neral service for her husband– the boys’ grandfather. They had discovered their grandfathers gun, and one of the boys picked it up. Not realizing that the gun was load- ed, one boy accidentally shot his brother in the neck. For- tunately there was no great tragedy in this case, for there was only a “flesh wound.” As the grandmother expressed it, “It could have been so much worse.”

I wonder how often we fail to realize the times of our lives when “it could have been so much worse.” I wonder how often during each day we are oblivious to the times when God spares us from tragedy? We may barely miss being side-swiped by another car, or be suddenly awakened from our day-dreaming by the screeching of tires from a nearby car. Or perhaps your child falls and hits his head, and after the crying and hugging, and kiss- ing of that child we conclude, “it’s only a little bump.”

Have you been spared from that great tragedy? Have you seen God’s protecting hand? There have been so many times in my life when it could have been so much worse. When my son ran the van into that old maple tree, and ended up with only a small bump on his head. The van was totaled, the tree hardly affected…and he was ok. I could go on and on about the many times God protected.

Today as we go through our activities, let us be more attentive to
the hand of the Lord. Let us not be negligent of his protection, and his
care. Instead of mindlessly ignoring Him, and making our own plans, and assuming that life is ours to do as we wish, let us open the eyes of our hearts. Let us take notice of God’s shepherding. James 4, reminds us to say, “If it is the Lord’s will,” I will carry out my plans for today.

An old hymn says, “Savior like a shepherd lead us, be the guardian of our way. Keep Thy flock; from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.” Do you ever look around and no- tice God’s hand at work? Has He protected you today? Has He given you wisdom? Has he blessed you? Pay attention to what the Lord, is doing and you might just discover that you are even more blessed than you thought.

Lord, as we go through our days, may we be aware of Your leading, and protection. Teach us to make our plans in accord with Your will. Please be our shepherd, and guide. And most of all, thank You for the may times You have spared us from injury, or harm even though we were totally unaware. Amen.

Blessings, Pastor Mark