June 2014 – Misunderstandings
    My sermon June 1 was titled, “What’s the Big Deal about Sex?” About fifteen minutes into my message, two rows of high school students sitting in the front right side of our sanctuary stood up and walked out. I didn’t know what I had said that disturbed them so much. I continued my message, but I was upset. I felt like I must lack the wisdom and grace to connect with them.

    In 1985 I was teaching in Honolulu at the YWAM base. While I was there, the base leader at the University of the Nations in Kona asked if I could come to the Big Island and speak at their Friday night assembly. Loren and Darleen Cunningham, YWAM’s founders were leading the first Leadership Training School at the University. YWAM’s main leaders from around the world were attending the school and were present along with six hundred others the night I spoke.     

    The meeting was held in a partially covered outdoor amphitheater on their campus. I was honored to be the speaker and nervous about my message. In the middle of my message, the following story popped into my mind and I shared it: One night in 1971, I went to the home of the parish priests at St. Isabella’s Catholic Church in Terra Linda, California for a Bible study. I had grown up in this parish, and had gone to a mass and heard about the study. I had been filled with the Spirit and studying the Bible for a year. There were eight people in a circle in the living room when I arrived. The priest welcomed me. He then began the meeting by saying that the gospels cannot be taken literally, since they differ from one another.

    My heart started pounding rapidly. I spoke up, saying the gospels can definitely be taken literally. He said that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I told him that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still operating in the Church today. He said that I couldn’t prove the gifts of the Spirit were still valid. In order to prove my point, I spoke out loudly in tongues. The others in the group were shocked. The priest stood up, grabbed my arm and escorted me to the door. “Don’t ever come back here and do something like that again!” he said, as he pushed me out the door.

    As I told this story to the YWAM assembly I spoke out loudly in tongues, just like I had done that night. As soon as I did that, hundreds of people from around the meeting stood up and started leaving. I was stunned. I felt like I had grieved the Holy Spirit and didn’t know how to recover. I quickly finished my message. Afterwards, Darleen Cunningham came up to me.     “Mark, I was enjoying your story at the end, but I don’t think you finished it.”

    “When people started leaving after I spoke in tongues, I felt like I grieved the Holy Spirit.”

    “They didn’t leave because you spoke in tongues. They moved because it started raining and they weren’t under the cover. They didn’t want to get wet.”

    As I left church June 1, I ran into Corey, one of our high school leaders. “I guess I said something the kids couldn’t relate to very well?”

    “No. We all had to leave early because we were setting up for the fund raising barbeque. I probably should have told you in advance.”

    Misunderstandings test our hearts. My tests reveal a need for more trust and confidence in God. Fortunately God’s Kingdom doesn’t falter when we fall short. Jesus is interceding for us. His wisdom and grace enable us to fulfill His will, and reign in life, in spite of our weaknesses.

Sunday Preview

May 29, 2014

    My sermon this Sunday is called, “What’s the Big Deal about Sex?” from Proverbs 5 and 1 Corinthians 6. Our culture is obsessed with sex; but that’s not much different than many cultures around the world, now or in the past. What breaks my heart is the ignorance in our culture about marriage, and the pain and confusion that immoral relationships cause.
     God made us sexual beings. He created sex to be a blessing between a man and a woman in marriage. We don’t have to learn the important lessons of life through trial and error. We can have marriages that are a blessing if we apply the wisdom of God in our lives.
     In this message, I want to talk about the blessings God intends for us in marriage, and the consequences of adultery. We will look at the wisdom in Proverbs which can enrich our lives and marriages. The good news is that God can give us wisdom when we lack it, healing when we need it, and hope for the future. We can win every spiritual battle because Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of our Father in Heaven, interceding for us. He delights in enabling us to triumph in life.
     I would appreciate your prayers as I address this sensitive and vital subject. These truths can help us be a light which is needed more now than ever.

Easter Sunday Preview

April 17, 2014

   We are preparing for our Good Friday and Easter Services and expect many visitors to our services Saturday night and Sunday morning. I would appreciate your prayers for David and me as we prepare our resurrection messages. We hope everyone will encounter the Spirit of God as we worship, and we want to preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.
     My message from Luke 24 is called, “What Did Jesus Do?” After his resurrection Jesus appeared to approximately 520 people over the next forty days. He gave messages, performed miracles and modeled effective ministry. I plan to focus on a ministry model that Jesus demonstrated as He walked the road to Emmaus with two of the disciples.
     Ministry is one of the greatest opportunities we can have in life. Ministry gives us the opportunity to bring the Kingdom of God to others. It allows Christ to work through us to touch people and change their lives. I’m hoping this message will give you insights into how Jesus did ministry so that you will continue to grow and bear much fruit as you follow Him.

Sunday Preview

April 3, 2014

    This weekend we are starting a sermon series called “Risen” in all our services. Throughout the month of April we will focus our messages on the impact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My first message is called, “Resurrection Instructions” from John 21:1-17. We will look at the challenges the disciples had in recognizing Jesus after his resurrection, the impact of miracles and the specific instructions Jesus gave to his disciples.
     When the disciples responded to the Lord’s direction in John 21, they experienced an incredible miracle. Miracles are usually cooperative endeavors between the Spirit of God and the simple obedience of people.
     It can be a challenge for us to know when the Lord is speaking to us and respond to Him in obedience. We want miracles to occur, but we don’t want to become obsessed with them. If we do respond to the word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, our lives can be incredibly fruitful and productive. This message will give you some practical help in fulfilling the primary plan and purpose God has for your life.

Sunday Preview

March 13, 2014

The Lord put a message on my heart for this Sunday from Luke 5:1-11 called “A Supernatural Catch.” In this story Jesus told Peter to go into the deep water and put down his nets to catch some fish. Peter was a commercial fisherman who had fished all night without catching anything.

People who say “The worst day fishing is better than the best day working” must have terrible jobs. I love to go fishing, but it’s not much fun when you don’t catch anything. Peter wasn’t fishing for fun, he made his living fishing. Without catching fish, he couldn’t support his family. We know when he was under pressure, Peter could be impulsive, deceitful and a fighter; however, when it came to catching fish, Peter was a pro.

I have had a couple of supernatural fishing experiences over the years which I will share in this message. In supernatural experiences, there is always a bigger message behind the miracle. Jesus asked Peter to do something that made no natural sense to him. When Peter obeyed Jesus, he saw a demonstration of God’s glory and power that humbled him profoundly. We don’t seek miracles to prove the existence of God. God does miracles to bless, provide and reveal himself to those who obey Jesus. I’ll be praying that we will hear what the Spirit is saying to our hearts and cooperate with God’s plan. As we do, we too will see demonstrations of his power and glory, and become effective fishers of men.

Sunday Preview

March 6, 2014

     My sermon this Sunday is called, “The Values of the Kingdom of God” from Proverbs 3. Every family, company and culture has values. The choices we make each day about how to spend our time and money, as well as the way we treat people, reflect our values.  In this message, I will talk about love, faithfulness, trust, honor and wisdom. Each of these values expressed in Proverbs 3 comes with blessings promised by God for those who live by them.
     As Bible students know, Solomon, the author of Proverbs, did not end his life well. In spite of his great insights and wisdom, he made spiritual compromises because he chose wives and concubines who served false gods. Solomon’s heart was ultimately led astray from the Lord God. We too need more than proverbs, principles and platitudes if we are going to overcome the sin in this world. We need the grace that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. The grace of God we receive from Jesus, along with the insights we gain from Scriptures, allow us to bear good fruit in a fallen world. I’m praying that this message will help you receive truth that will set you free.

Sunday Preview

February 27, 2014

My sermon this Sunday is called “The Finger of God” from John 8:1-12. This is the story of the woman caught in adultery. Moses had written that those who commit adultery should be stoned to death. The Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus into either discounting Moses and encouraging adultery, or giving his consent to the woman’s execution.
They underestimated Jesus. You can’t trap the son of God; his wisdom and knowledge are too deep. Jesus looked over the crowd and saw the condition of their souls. He bent down and started writing with his finger on the courtyard ground. The finger of God revealed the dark secrets in the lives of the hostile crowd. Her accusers slipped away, and the woman was face to face with Jesus. He showed her mercy and gave her grace. She was sent away with a final charge, “Go your way and sin no more.”
I want us to come before Jesus and experience his mercy and grace during our services. Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it. We are not called to condemn the world either. We are called to be ministers of mercy to those whose lives have been broken by sin. We are called to proclaim a message of forgiveness for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. Let’s pray that the Lord will reveal his mercy and impart grace to everyone who worships with us this weekend.