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Just watched a “Christian” movie…

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

I went to a Christian-themed movie recently which was VERY disappointing to me. Why?

Not the acting. It was ok. I can forgive that!

Not the story. It was ok. I can forgive it for being too “Hollywood” meaning everything worked out in the end.

Not the attempt. I’m glad movie companies are TRYING to make Christian movies. That’s great! Thank you!

Here’s what I was disappointed by: The REAL Person of Jesus Christ was NOT a character or even a factor in the movie!

In other words, the movie focused on human relationships, had a positive message, but never really presented the Gospel or directed people to know Christ personally. Good movie…it will make you cry, but that’s all. No eternal value in it!

While it was a Christian-themed movie, it was not a Christian movie because it focused only upon this temporal life and not eternal life or upon the eternal Person of Jesus Christ.

-Mark (just wanting all of us Christians to be bold about the Person of Christ)

P.S. No, I won’t tell you the name of this movie because I am not going to degrade it publicly. If you’d like to know, contact me and I’ll tell you privately and personally. Again, I applaud the attempt of making a Christian movie but is it really Christian if Christ is not a character? Is apple pie really apple pie when there are no apples in it?

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Are you self-sufficient?

December 29, 2010 1 comment

One of the desires of sinful mankind is self-sufficiency. It’s reinforced in modern America. But is it biblical and godly to be self-sufficient? I say “no.” We are to be Christ-sufficient or better yet, we are to find our sufficiency in Christ alone.

We need to depend (trust) in God and not ourselves (Prov. 3:5-8). We need to depend upon God. We are not self-sufficient though we like to think we are and can be, but it’s simply a lie of Satan and this world to tell us that we do not need God or His Word.

Did you realize that Adam and Eve were created to depend and trust in God’s Word even before the Fall of mankind in Genesis 3? Before sin, mankind was created as a being who must depend upon God alone and to obey/trust His Word. Look at what happened when man disobeyed in Genesis 3: consequences to sin and death/suffering, etc. The result in our world today is tragic and we are daily reminded of the sin of our first parents to be “self-sufficient” and trusting in their own ideas rather than the Word of God.

It is hard to live by faith in America but God is allowing us to experience some hard consequences now that will bring us to our knees showing us we are not self-sufficient but ever dependent upon the King of Kings.

-Mark (don’t be self-sufficient and don’t even desire it; desire Christ and find your sufficiency in Him alone)

End of the year 2010 praise report!

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I was looking at our Truth in Love budget for 2010 (something I try NOT to do often) and was so encouraged to see that we are only $4,000.00 short of our budget for the year. Praise the Lord for His provision!

I read recently about a so-called church (I really wonder if they are a church) that has 2 million dollars coming in per month and are having to file for bankruptcy! $2 million dollars a month is $24 million dollars per year and they cannot make it on that! Wow! What a sad testimony! That’s why I wonder if this is really a Christian church or not.

Thankfully, our budget is a little over $100,000.00 per year and we are making it just fine. Praise the Lord!

I look at what this tiny ministry (in the world’s eyes according to our budget) is accomplishing and I’m amazed at the wisdom and power of God. We are focused on eternity and doing the will of God according to Matthew 28:18-20 to make disciples.

We trained 220 people this year alone with a fraction of what it costs that other church to operate.

We saw many lives transformed by the power of God through TRUE salvation experiences. We saw marriages reconciled and improved. We saw people become stronger followers of Christ through focused discipleship and training. All of this accomplished ONLY by the power of God for His own glory.

I don’t think God wants us to be focused on money and I’m glad we are NOT at TIL. God wants us to focus upon Him and obeying His will alone.

2 Corinthians 5:9b states (ESV): “We make it our aim to please Him.”

To everyone who worked for the Lord through Truth in Love Ministries, thank you for making it your aim to please Him in 2010.

God is pleased.

-Mark (eager to get working in 2011 just to see how God is going to amaze us again!)

Report: 41% of Americans are “mentally ill”

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

As we close out 2010, I wanted to relay a statistic I heard recently that said that 41% of AMERICANS were mentally ill. In America, we are creeping up on almost HALF of all Americans have some type of so-called “mental illness.” In other words, 41% of Americans possess a DSM-IV DIAGNOSIS based upon observable (or self-reported) behaviors/thoughts and many of those are “treating their symptoms” with a medication that is NOT guaranteed to work and may have many serious side effects.

My thoughts:
1) I think America is one of the few countries with the LEISURE TIME and WEALTH to be “mentally ill.” Most third world countries and their citizens do not have the time to focus on themselves which OFTEN causes mental illness. The people in these countries have to focus on working for their families just to survive the harsh conditions of life. In America, we have time and wealth to be mentally ill b/c it lends itself to self-absorption.

2) This 41% is a number that is only going to INCREASE in our country.

3) How much does sin and focusing upon one’s self-centered desires contribute to mental illness versus how much of mental illness is physically based (like a chemical imbalance)? I would say that when we get to heaven, if the Lord reveals the truthful answer to this question, we will all be surprised at how mental illness is really caused by living in unrepentant sin by being so extremely self-focused that one’s physical body begins to manifest these symptoms. There is a physical relationship between one’s sin and the body. Look at how Nebuchadnezzar’s body responded to his sin (Daniel 4:28-33) and David whose health suffered because of his sin (Psalm 38:3).

4) I am saddened and compassionate for this 41% of people. At times in my life, I’m sure I would have qualified as one of them in certain ways. I’m glad to not be struggling with it anymore by the grace of God.

5) Terminology is important and when we call something that is blatantly SINFUL as “MENTALLY ILL,” then the Bible is no longer useful to people who are looking for answers to “mental illness” which is not in the Bible. However, when we translate the observable behaviors/thoughts into biblical terminology, then we can utilize the GREATEST resource ever given to mankind: the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

While some mental problems are caused by physical factors, the majority of them often are not. The cause can often be SIN which leads to physical problems.

Sadly, even if ALL “mental illness” were caused by physical problems (and they are NOT!), but even if they were, the medications and secular counseling available is NOT working. It is woefully inadequate to address the matters of the heart that must be changed by the power of Christ. Is your hope in the world’s supposed remedies or in Christ as the remedy Who transforms the heart (Rom. 12:2)?

-Mark (let’s pray for this 41% of people to either be saved or sanctified by Christ)

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Jesus, born in the lowliest of places and in the lowliest of forms (a man!), came to save our souls from the just punishment and wrath of God!

Praise His Name!

Seek to bless Him who gave us the greatest gift of all – eternal life!

-Mark (grateful for the life and death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!)

Are Christians being Santa-tized?

December 24, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s Christmas time and that can only mean one thing: Jesus’ birthday, right? Well, to some, it’s Santa Claus time but what does Santa teach us and are the messages biblical? Should Christians embrace Santa?

First of all, Santa is a lie. I work with abused kids and neglected kids. They have been lied to their whole lives and now parents are encouraged to lie to them one more time about ole Saint Nick? What are we thinking? Encourage parents to lie to their abused kids one more time and cause more distrust between parent and child. I don’t think so! Some argue it’s a good lie but is there really such a thing in God’s eyes?

Second, does Santa know if you have been naughty or nice? Is he all knowing like God? I don’t think so. Jesus knew if people were naughty or nice because He was the Son of God. Santa is not the son of God. Santa is not divine. Santa is portrayed as a man with special abilities like knowing if we’ve been good or bad, but he’s not god. Strange stuff!

Third, are we teaching kids to be works-oriented and to earn their gifts? When we talk about salvation as a free gift yet encourage kids to be nice to earn their Christmas gifts, we are undermining the very idea that a gift is not earned or deserved just like eternal life is not earned or deserved. Salvation is a free gift and it’s given to us while we are yet naughty (not nice). Romans 5:8 reminds us that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” so that means we were still naughty!

When something is sanitized, it is cleansed and purified. Unfortunately the opposite is true when something is Santa-tized: it is polluted and corrupted and made unclear. That’s how I feel about the lie of ole Saint Nick. It’s a lie plain as day and yet we embrace it and justify it as mere fun – a good lie.

I wonder how the Lord feels about lying. Oh, I don’t have to wonder. I already know as it is one of His 10 Commandments – “thou shalt not bear false witness.” He is not pleased with any lying and that includes Santa-tizing! I hope you will consider this commandment you are tempted to talk about Santa. Sounds harsh to some but it’s important to be obedient to the Lord.

Celebrate Jesus this Christmas…not Santa!

-Mark (celebrating the pure birth of our Savior and not anything else this advent season)

A Daily Devotional for anyone, especially those struggling with addictions…

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Cross Talking is a daily devotional that is simple, clear, and a teaching tool to help people understand the biblical approach to addiction!

Since most programs are 90 days, this devo has 45 daily readings that should be read through 2x to better understand the biblical concepts presented. The book will address any addiction and really any idolatrous pleasure.

We use it at The Lovelady Center (www.loveladycenter.org) and we are seeing a greater understanding of the Gospel as a result. The whole point is to help people to KNOW God so that they can trust Him more and live by faith (not by sight).

-Mark (grateful that the message in the Gospel is simple: we are sinners saved by grace through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ)