A Boasting Bride

I love the Church!  With all her stains and wrinkles, her messy hair and mismatched shoes, she is the Bride.  If ever God came up with a plan that exalts HIS glory and not man’s, it’s the church.  And funny thing is, I’m so glad He did it that way.  I know that churches feel the pressure to do church “better” and unfortunately many think better means the way of business, or the way of entertainment, or the way of purpose, or the way of belonging.  And in each of those, there is good happening and good to be learned, but it’s not ours to make the bride … Christ purchased her, He’s purifying her, and He’s one day going to present her glorious to Himself at the greatest wedding party ever!  That’s all Ephesians 5:25-27 in case you missed the sermon Sunday (http://www.sermoncloud.com/Leroy-Chapel).  It’s ours to get the message right as we live on mission to the glory of God (Ephesians 3:8-10).  

Honestly, it’s easier to build a church on business principles, with motivational slogans, and top-notch marketing … just get the bride out of her dirty dress and put her in something hip and cool.  Get her some plastic surgery, bring in a fashion consultant, and fill her closet with a dress for every occasion.  The downside is Christ gets moved from the center as the bride is enamored looking at herself in the mirror. And its hard to preach a message of Christ crucified when He’s not the one being put on display.  The glory of the church is Christ!  God’s glory exalted in man’s weakness, sin exposed, and the Gospel as the only medicine for the soul.  So the work of the church is worship!  Sure, she ought to do her best at all she does – excellent programs, thorough planning, and diligent administration, but her calling in to boast in her husband.  And that’s what has stuck with me from Sunday’s message – A Boasting Bride.  Call it evangelism, call it missions, call it making disciples, OR call it a Bride who can’t stay silent about telling everyone she meets that her husband is the greatest!  He paid the highest price, is 100% committed to her growth, and will never give up on her until she is made perfect.  That’s a husband to be envied, a husband to be sought, a husband that’s worth glorying in.  So boast with me, Leroy Chapel, as the messy, in-process, dress-stained Bride in our glorious Husband to the people of NE Ohio and beyond.

 

For the love of the Bride,

Pastor Mark 

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Because the Days are Evil

I lost a good friend last week.  His name is Phil Presley and he now lives in glory!  I’ve always been blessed by older men in my life.  Having lost my dad at the age of 19, I’ve learned much from those God has placed around me regarding manhood.  Phil was one without a doubt.  I got to participate in his memorial service last night and the testimonies flowed of Phil’s love for the Gospel and intense devotion to making it known in the world.  To say the service was inspiring would be an understatement, it really was about a life lived to the glory of God.  I got to share the Gospel alongside of Phil on many occasions, got to bless many people together in the community through practical ways, assist people struck by tragedy, and have him love my kids.  God used him greatly to build the Kingdom … and still is.  People came to Christ last night hearing how the story of Phil was the story of the Gospel in his life.

For me, Phil’s life will always call me to Ephesians 5:15-16.  As those redeemed from darkness and made alive in Christ, our call is to “redeem the time.”  Make the most of every opportunity.  When God puts an idea for ministry on my heart, when the Spirit impresses on my soul a call to action, I hear Phil telling me to not put it off, to not just talk about it, and to be a man of action.  We always reminded each other of the great quote “Expect great things from God, Attempt great things from Him.”  Careful living (v.15) is not about being cautious, it’s about being careful to not waste your life, careful to not miss an opportunity to serve someone up good dose of Gospel.  I’m always struck by the motivation the apostle Paul gives in that passage – “Because the days are evil.”  It seems foreign to our thinking.  We motivate by telling someone, “these are good days, he’s a good guy, good things are ahead.”  Paul motivated by saying these are “evil days”.  Why?  If we knew the days were good, we’d grow comfortable, procrastinate, and become apathetic.  But when we recognize this world is headed down the road to ruin, we feel the urgency of the call to “redeem the time”, to make the most of every opportunity.  Maybe it’s talking to that neighbor, praying for that waitress, or getting involved with that hurting family.  I venture to say, it’s not about you and I trying to figure out “what” to do as much as it is determining “to do.”  

The effectiveness of Leroy Chapel will not be what we do inside our four walls, but what we do outside them … making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.

Be Careful to Not Live Carefully,

Pastor Mark

I’ll be Listening

I have no agenda, strategy, or outline for these posts … just talking with my friends in Lake County.  So, I get asked the question out here, “What are you going to do when you get to Ohio?”  Let me share one of my (most important) answers.  I’ll Be Listening.  No really, I want to hear, learn, really listen to you.  Let me be more specific:

What I don’t want to Listen to –

1.  I don’t want to listen to people complaing about what they don’t like about the church.

2.  I don’t want to listen to complaints or criticism about leaders, past or present.

3.  I don’t want to listen to selfish agendas for church programs that don’t really help us move forward in reaching a lost world.

4.  I don’t want to listen to ANY bad-mouthing the Anaheim Angels.

5.  I don’t want to listen to you making apologies for the weather 🙂  I know what I’m getting into … and am excited about it!

What I really want to Listen to –

1.  Your Story.  How God has been at work in your life to rescue you, transform you, and make you into the person you are.  I want to hear the stories of God doing what He does best – graciously changing lives. 

2. Your Dreams.  I want to hear what you’re burdened for in the world.  I want to hear how you think the gifts and resources of Leroy can be used to accomplish great things for the Kingdom.

3. Your Struggles.  I don’t expect perfect people, nor run from the humanity of personal pain.  I want to hear how your own sin is driving you to love Christ more, need Him more, desperate for His grace, so that together we can delight in His promises to grow us!

4. Your View.  I have ideas, opinions, and experiences that have shaped who I am and how I view the world, I want to hear how you view the world, how you think about justice and compassion.  We won’t agree on all those things, but we will only grow in love for one another as we understand each others perspectives.

So, get ready to speak … I’m listening

Pastor Mark

From Southern California to Northeast Ohio

So, here goes!  This website is for my new family at Leroy Community Chapel as we begin this journey together as God’s people in Northeast Ohio.  I want you all to know who I am, how I think, what I dream of, pray for, and plead with God to accomplish through us.  I want you to know how I walk with God, my heart to humbly lead His Bride, and to turn Ohio and beyond upside down for the Gospel.  To which you realists say, “He’s young, idealistic, what is this turn the world upside down stuff …”  And my response is, “I want my dreams to be bigger than my memories … I want to attempt things for the Kingdom that are beyond my ability to accomplish in my lifetime.”  And in all of that we will throw ourselves on the grace of God to find our only identity in His Story, in His Mission, for His glory.

 

It’s going to be a couple months before the nine of us get to be with you all in the Buckeye state, but let’s “talk” now.  You web-savvy folks will bookmark this blog and wonder what Spansel is talking about next.  And maybe for some of you this will be a new adventure in the “techie” world as you see that it’s not all evil.  In any case, for however much any of you read this, please know I don’t think I have great and profound thoughts to share here that no one has thought before, or deep theological insights that you couldn’t read in a systematic theology, but I do have a heart that is unique to me … and that is what I want my church family to hear – My heart to shepherd the people of Leroy to live transformed lives in the world!  And to that I pray, “May God make it so!”

 

Already in love with you all,

Pastor Mark