Mark's View

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 Meet Up

It’s Sunday morning. The iPhone alarm goes off.  I hurriedly turn it off. It’s early Sunday morning.

Why make the effort to go to church? Isn’t a Sunday sleep-in really nice? You can get up later and watch a church service on tv while still in your pj’s and eating lunch.  

That’s all great, but we’re missing the most essential part—the meet up. Other words for this are church or fellowship. The Greek word for church is "ekklesia," or the gathering of the saints. Fellowship happens when the saints gather in unity and really love each other. You can’t get that watching a service on your iPad. 

Church the way God intended is for different parts of the Body of Christ to come together as one, sharing each other’s joys and burdens, worshipping as one and learning as one. 

At New Life NoMa we want to experience God’s amazing love and really love Him back. He really likes it when we all come together and as one worship Him.   He is worth it! We grow together and become more like Jesus.  

We meet up at 9:30 on Sunday mornings at the Camden NoMa Apartment Social Lounge—60 L St., NE 20002. All are welcome. Our Father in heaven wants all His kids to sit at His table. 

"Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning" (Hebrews 10:24-25 Passion Translation).

PS. Although we love Camden NoMa apartments, we are not affiliated with them in any way.


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Special Birthday!

Please take a moment and pray for Billy Graham on his 99th Birthday. I honor him because he has impacted my life with His love for God, people, the Bible, and His preaching of the Cross.  He was my father’s favorite preacher.

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 Is God Always Good?

Today I mourn with the families of those who lost their lives tragically when a gunman opened fire during a church service in Texas.  It’s common for one to ask, "Why didn’t God prevent this?"  

God didn’t create evil. Evil came into being when angels and men rebelled against God. Eve listened to the lie that she could be as wise as God and ate the forbidden fruit. She sinned and was never the same. She and her husband viewed themselves as naked and they were ashamed.  God could have eliminated the choice to rebel or engage in rebellion, but He would have created automatons instead of people with a choice to love—because love is always a choice. 

Then God showed his incredible love with a plan to fix this rebellion. He sent His Son to die a horrible death on a Roman cross and become our sin substitute, to pay the penalty for our sins. When we believe that Jesus died and rose again for us and decide to follow Him, our sins are forgiven and our relationship with God is restored. 

So, yes, God is always good. He did not cause evil; He provided a remedy to evil—forgiveness of sin. The people who died Sunday and had trusted Christ are with Him. There is a resurrection coming, but now they are spiritually with God in heaven, in a much better place. Like the thief on the cross who acknowledged Jesus, they are in paradise.

Those who died are martyrs. They died worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ last Sunday. Although they passed tragically, their deaths will not be in vain. Something good will come out of this horrific, evil act because God will never waste a hurt.  Light will come from this darkness, just like it did three days after the crucifixion of Jesus. Just like it did when Stephen was stoned as told in Acts 7:54ff.  There are so many testimonies of God taking what the devil meant for evil and turning it to good. 

Do you believe in the Lord Jesus?  Do you believe He died on the cross and rose again for you? If you do, ask Him to forgive your sins and learn His ways. Today you can restore the love relationship God really, really wants to have with you. Thank You, Lord, for your resurrection power.

Romans 10:9-10

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

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 The Enemy of Best Is Good

What’s more important—money  or treasure in heaven? 

Understandably many say money because we need money to live, eat, have shelter, pay for medicine, gas, clothing, recreation, etc.  Heaven—that’s a long ways off; I need to deal with the here and now. 

Yet Jesus, the wisest One to ever walk the earth said, "People everywhere seem to worry about making a living, but your heavenly Father knows your every need and will take care of you. Each and every day he will supply your needs as you seek his kingdom passionately, above all else" (Luke 12:30-31).

So the smart decision is to passionately seek to know God and His ways. We call that discipleship, or learning to wholeheartedly follow Jesus. Then, paradoxically and supernaturally, God provides for all our needs, including financial needs.

My wife and I made what seemed to be a crazy financial decision once. We gave away $10,000 just after going into the real estate development business. It was our safety net. Shortly afterward God turned that offering into an over $1 million gain. What we did was considered unwise according to many money experts, but we did it because we were following Jesus’ lead. We learned God can be trusted. 

Jesus always tells the truth. He said that He came to give us an abundant life (cf. John 10:10).  Let’s by faith trust Him today and seek Him first and learn His ways.  I believe we’ll experience the truth of God’s words. We will choose the best.


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 Why Are We Here?

God loves you and you were created for a purpose. When we live out this purpose, we live life to the full. 

Discovering our purpose is not mysterious; you are meant to know. As we draw close to God, He draws close to us. We hear his voice in many different ways: through the Bible, nature, other people, His voice to our heart, dreams, visions, and sometimes dramatic, unexplainable ways.

Knowing our purpose begins with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. By faith we receive Him as Savior by trusting His death on the cross and His resurrection, which paid the debt for our sins. Next, we commit wholeheartedly to learning and following His ways. 

This small amount of faith opens the door for an amazing journey with God as a good, good Father. He shows us His good and perfect will for our life. Our heart changes and we begin to love Him and others. We live abundantly, doing what we were created to do.  

I pray this daily, "Father, I am your servant, I live for you. Please forgive me for not living you with all my heart and mind. Please forgive me for not loving my neighbor as I would want to be loved. Now God, help me to love You and my neighbor more today than yesterday.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Start the journey of abundant life today. Since God loves you and it’s His plan, He’ll move heaven and earth for you to know your purpose and live it out. Just ask, you will receive.

That’s the reason we have come to DC to start New Life NoMa. We want to do this together with you!

Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


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 They Owe Me Nothing

Kathy and I were in India for 3 months sharing God’s love and power. He sent us to tell them that God really, really loved them and He really, really wants to be loved back. He demonstrated His love through His Son, Jesus Christ. We love Him back the same way, through Jesus. We saw Him confirm this message with miracles that even surprised us. 

While there, a major donor of our ministry of planting a church to the marginalized in Downtown Raleigh abruptly pulled their support. We were devastated, thinking about the timing, "Why couldn’t they at least have waited until we returned from the other side of the earth?"

Why do bad things happen even when doing the will of God?  

Unfortunately, people turn on people. Crass unkindness, vicious plottings, horrible and intentional antagonisms happen, and a bad day hardly describes the extended season of a struggle many of us face at times. But there is a lesson at Calvary.

Jesus who never did wrong gives us the example while dying on the cross. He said, "Father forgive them…."

We are instructed by Jesus to forgive everyone—anyone—you think has failed you, hurt you, offended you. If you think others have done anything to ruin your day, ruin your opportunities, ruin your dreams, ruin your life, or block your goals, forgive them. Forgiving others is the key to living in the liberty of the freeing forgiveness Jesus has given to us.

What is forgiveness?  Forgiveness is not forgetting or trying to ignore the pain. I like how Neal Anderson defines forgiveness: "Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person's sin. Forgiveness is costly; we pay the price of the evil we forgive. Yet you're going to live with those consequences whether you want to or not; your only choice is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or the freedom of forgiveness. That's how Jesus forgave you--He took the consequences of your sin upon Himself. All true forgiveness is substitutional, because no one really forgives without bearing the penalty of the other person's sin."

When we forgive we take the person off our hook and give them to God. He knows how to perfectly deal with each person. We move from the bondage of bitterness to freedom. 

R.T. Kendall, the former pastor of Westminster Chapel in London said, "…the blessing of the Holy Spirit is often in proportion to one’s forgiving of others for the hurt and injustice inflicted on their lives."

So since unforgiveness robs us of the blessing of an abundant life, I want to encourage you to adopt a phrase I use when reminded of a past hurt. I say, "They owe me nothing." You see, I’ve made the hard choice to forgive the offender, give them to God, and pray for them to be blessed.  By saying, "They owe me nothing," I have accepted the loss and am moving toward freedom from the bitterness of the past. 

Nicky Gumble says hanging on to an offense is like drinking poison and hoping the person who hurt you dies.  

So start forgiving today. Forgiveness brings inner healing. Author Clayton King says forgiveness is like a bandaid that brings the skin of the wound together so healing can take place. 

Finally, consider Neal Anderson’s words, "Why is forgiveness so critical to our freedom? Because of the cross. God didn't give us what we deserve; He gave us what we needed according to His mercy. We are to be merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful (Luke 6:36). We are to forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:31,32). Forgiveness is not forgetting. People who try to forget find that they cannot. God says He will "remember no more" our sins (Hebrews 10:17), but God, being omniscient, cannot forget. "Remember no more" means that God will never use the past against us (Psalm 103:12). Forgetting may be a result of forgiveness, but it is never the means of forgiveness. When we bring up the past and use it against others, we haven't forgiven them. Forgiveness is a choice, a crisis of the will. We choose to face and acknowledge the hurt and the hate in order to forgive from the heart."

By God’s grace, I hope you can start say about those who have hurt you, "They owe me nothing."

Ephesians 3:16-21

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


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 Losing To Win

Nicky Gumbel shares the following story in one of his daily devotionals. On 13 January 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 taking off from Washington, DC, crashed into the Potomac River. It was winter and the river was full of ice. The crash happened near a bridge going over the river. The TV cameras could see everything. Millions of viewers, sitting in their living rooms, watched as a helicopter overhead let down a life-belt on a line to a man struggling in the water. He grabbed the line, swam to another survivor just by him, clipped the woman in and they hoisted her up to safety. The helicopter let the line back down again, and again the man did the same thing. He swam to someone else, and rescued them. He saved five people, before finally, exhausted, he himself drowned.

Why did this man not save himself? The answer is that he was out to save others. In an even more amazing way, Jesus did not save himself because he was out to save you and me through his death on the cross.

At New Life NoMa our desire is to love God and love people so we can live life to the full.  Jesus’ self sacrifice shows us how to really live. Paradoxically, abundant life comes after we lose our lives for Him and other people. We may not physically die for a sacrificial deed, but we must risk loss in order to gain. That’s the way it is in God’s Kingdom. 

God loves you so much. May your heart really know that more today than yesterday. 

"If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:39‬


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