Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 33 October 14, 2019 Chicken Rotisseries and Transformative Love

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have been on a two-year quest to find a Chicken Rotisserie. I love the taste of Rotisserie Chicken but would rather cook it myself than buy one at the local grocery. Perhaps I am foolish but I enjoy the craft of cooking for myself. My last Rotisserie burned out and I have been searching garage sales looking for a replacement. I’m too frugal to pay full retail price. My garage sale searches have been fruitless.

This weekend my daughter did a quick search on Facebook Marketplace. She found me a never-used rotisserie in the next town for a fraction of the retail price. Within an hour, she and I were picking it up from a woman who had purchased it, never used it, and sat it on a shelf. This un-loved, un-used rotisserie quickly found a home where it was loved and appreciated. It cooked its first chicken for me just a little more that 24 hours after it came home with me. In the right hands, with a little appreciation, it transformed from being unloved and useless to an appreciated member of my kitchen appliance collection.

I wish that every person would find a relationship that moves one from being un-used and useless to being purposeful and appreciated. I imagine that this is what mentoring is all about. I am a person who was changed and transformed by such a mentor. The person that I was entering college and the person that I was upon graduation was due to a wonderful Christian man who saw the good in me. I went from aimless to purposeful in those years of mentoring.

If you are feeling aimless, I encourage you to locate a mature Christian who can mentor you. If you are a mature Christian I encourage you to find someone without purpose and become that individual’s mentor. A relationship with the right person can, and will be, transformative. Let us mentor, and be mentored, in Jesus’ name.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Bergenfield

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #Mentors

#Usefulness                                                                          #TransformativeLove

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 32 October 7, 2019 Sunday Dinner De-Stress

Recently a number of my friends shared a post on Facebook that originated on NBC. It was a plea to bring back the family tradition of Sunday Dinner. Many of us grew up with this tradition. I really enjoyed the article and I endorse it. Sunday dinner is a way to bond, catch up with one another, and support one another. Sunday dinner for many of us was something that brings back many happy memories.

Obviously, the network is a secular network and would not mention the other part of our childhood tradition; attending church first before we enjoyed Sunday dinner. First we prayed and sang together and only after that did we eat together. While I appreciate the encouragement to bring back Sunday family dinners, I would add the need to bring back Sunday church attendance.

Many parents I know who grew up with these traditions lament that they do not currently practice them. They claim to be too “busy” for family church or family dinners. They are involved with other activities that make these traditions impossible. I wonder if they “can’t” or “won’t.” Isn’t missing Sunday church and dinner a choice.

Yes, we can choose to be busy on Sunday with clubs and sports or we can choose church and family dinner. No, we can’t do it all, but we have  the power to choose. If family church and family dinner made us into the fine people that we are, why would we choose to deprive our children of such blessings? Is there really anything more important than giving God the reverence that God is entitled to?

We live rapid-paced lives and feel the stress of those lives but that is our choice. Why not choose quieter, more peaceful lives? This is an invitation to de-stress. Make church a choice, followed by a Sunday family dinner. The peace that you receive will be a wonderful gift to yourself.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Bergenfield

#BergenCountyNJ                                                               #Stress

#SundayDinner                                                                    #FamilyChurch

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/sunday-dinner-family-tradition-we-need-bring-back-ncna1001166?fbclid=IwAR185mb_PcMZmU92HVBw1MmMVf7YH9CDUh1x7wE8SFZmJ21gFAHWP-G88mg

Our Daily Elder Devotional: His Abiding Presence

Our Daily Elder Devotional
We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church: www.clintonave.org.

Today’s devotional comes from “Jesus Calling – Enjoying Peace in His Presence” by Sarah Young.

His Abiding Presence

Exodus 33:14New International Version (NIV)

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

John 15:4-7New International Version (NIV)

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Let Me prepare you for the day that stretches out before you.  I know exactly what this day will contain, whereas you have only vague ideas about it.  You would like to see a map, showing all the twists and turns of your journey.  You’d feel more prepared if you could somehow visualize what is on the road ahead.  However, there is a better way to be prepared for whatever you will encounter today: Spend quality time with Me.

I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey.  My living Presence is your Companion each step of the way.  Stay in continual communication with Me, whispering My Name whenever you need me to redirect your thoughts. Thus, you can walk through this day with your focus on Me.  My abiding Presence is the best road map available.

May this bless you as it did me.

Our Daily Elder Devotional: Death through Christ

Our Daily Elder Devotional
We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church: www.clintonave.org.

Today’s devotional is from my heart to you.

Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ

Romans 5:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

Romans 5:18-21 New International Version (NIV)

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 New International Version (NIV)

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[b]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[c]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:49 Some early manuscripts so let us
  2. 1 Corinthians 15:54 Isaiah 25:8
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:55 Hosea 13:14

A larger set of passages today.All weave together to explain the way that sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve.  Both were responsible for their actions.  Don’t blame Satan and his lies, don’t blame God for allowing it.  It is God’s will that we intentionally choose Him, that we choose good over evil.  That we have the freedom of free will and are not robots doing what we are ordained to do.  But God had a plan for our salvation from the beginning of time, knowing that Adam and Eve would choose the way that they did, because He is all knowing.  He and His Son and the Spirit of God together planned how the Christ would come and save us froim our sins.  Praise God for His mercy and love for us!

 

Psalm 103 New International Version (NIV)

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 

Monday Ministerial Musings! By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 30 September 23, 2019 Seeing Gratitude

I write this blog with the consent of the woman whose story I am re-telling. She seemed to appreciate my wanting to tell her story and even posed for the picture of her that I took.

It was less than three weeks ago that a long-time member of my congregation, Daria, was in a tragic accident. While crossing the street, she was struck by a car. Her injuries were substantial. She fractured two vertebrae, two fingers and her jaw. She told me that as soon as she was hit and was knocked to the ground, she quickly said two prayers. The first was asking her late husband to be with her. The second was that Jesus would send her angels to be with her. It seemed to her that in a quick second there was a group of people surrounding her. Was it a coincidence or was that an answer to prayer?

I visited her in the hospital and asked how she was. “Fine,” she told me.

“Fine?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “I’m not paralyzed. I have no brain damage. I’m not dead. I’m grateful.”

I knew that she was a woman of faith but it was rare to find anyone so injured with the ability to feel such gratitude in such circumstances.

Daria is unique among American Christians. She was born in a refugee camp in Europe following World War II. She was raised by hardworking parents who immigrated to New York to give her a better life. Her late husband had a similar story. Both became educated and became high school teachers. She has always been grateful for the life she had and the wonderful family that she created.

Daria knows how difficult life can be. This is why she feels true gratitude for the good things in life. She doesn’t feel “entitled” to anything. Maybe this is something we who were raised in the American Middle Class ought to learn. We aren’t entitled to anything. Let us feel gratitude for every blessing that we receive.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Gratitude #Angels                                                                                   #Attitude

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:  https://deepriverbooks.com/?s=circle+of+seven

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 29 September 16, 2019 God’s Breath

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 29

September 16, 2019

God’s Breath

Recently I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. For years my wife has told me that I stop breathing when I sleep but I knew that she was wrong. Finally, just to appease here, I agreed to see a doctor who prescribed a sleep study. The study confirmed what the my wife feared: I have sleep apnea. A number of times each night, my airway closes and I don’t take in the air that my body requires. It is hard to believe but the technician told me that my oxygen level during sleep declined to 50%. My nurse friends tell me that I should have died from a figure this low. Now I am using CPAP machine that gives me a constant flow of air into my body to keep my breathing passage open. My wife tells me that I am no longer snoring overnight.

Genesis tells us the story of creation. The first human created by God becomes alive when God bends down and breaths into the man’s nostrils. It is God’s wind (Spirit) that makes this non-living form into a living being. As a boy I loved visiting my Uncle Roy’s farm in Western, NJ. One of my highlights there was seeing the birth of a calf. The calf, however, was not breathing. My uncle stuck his thumb in one of the calf’s nostrils and blew into the other nostril. Instantly, by magic it seemed, the calf took a breath. Seeing this made the Genesis story come become more real to me. We don’t breathe without divine breath within us.

For some reason my body began to block my airway while sleeping and I was not getting enough breath in me. Now I have a machine pushing air into me so that I have a proper oxygen level. The doctor tells me that this therapy will increase my energy level as I will get deeper, more restful, more oxygen-rich sleep. I can’t help but wonder if many of us Christians in many churches have Spirit-Apnea. This condition comes if we restrict the Holy Spirit from coming into us. Maybe some of us need Spirit CPAP machines. What is such a machine?

Scripture reading, prayer, and worship come to mind. These let the Spirit flow into us fully. If we are faith fatigued we need to take these spiritual disciplines more seriously. Let us not have Spirit Apnea. Let us do all we can to make God’s Spirit flow.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Creation

#SabbathRest                                                                       #HolySpirit

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Seasons

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 28

September 9, 2019

Seasons

I am back from vacation. I spent a glorious vacation first at my cabin in New York State, and then a weekend at the Jersey Shore at a reunion of my wife’s family. In between I met new friends, connected with old friends, reconnected with my wife’s childhood friends, and even took my young grandson for his first canoe ride on a lake. It was a wonderful time away. When I left, our weather was hot and humid. Now that I am back, the evening air is cool and crisp. To everything there is a season.

King Solomon, perhaps, said it best in the book of Ecclesiastes as he explained that “for everything there is a season.” It is good for all of us to have our get away and enjoy a vacation. It is also good for us to return and get ourselves back to work. We cannot have energy to work without our time away. Nor can we earn a living without our time of working. We cannot work without eating, but we never we will get anything done if we sat and ate all day. Everything we do has a season.

Where does God fit into our “seasons for everything?” Do we give God his season? Do we ignore him because he is invisible and we pay attention only to those things that we can see? Often we live with anxiety because we are made in God’s image and were made to have fellowship with him, yet we ignore him. We don’t get the spiritual refreshment from daily prayer and weekly worship. We are to busy “doing” and not taking time for being still and let God be in fellowship with us.

Yes, to everything there is a season, let us never exclude God from our season. We lose the vitality, the fellowship, the peace and joy that only he can give. Give God his season. It will give you a boost in all that you do.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#BergenfieldNJ                                                                     #BergenCounty NJ #PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                      #Seasons

#SabbathRest                                                                       #ClergyBurnOut

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

Monday Ministerial Musings: Sabbath Rest

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 26

July 29, 2019

Sabbath Rest

Scripture tells us after God created, he rested. Now I don’t pretend to know why god would need to rest. Certainly Jesus, in human form needed rest, but why would God, outside of human form, possibly need to rest? It defies my sense of the nature of God to believe that God required a rest. Perhaps he did not need one  but rested as an example to humans. Humans, God knew needed rest, showed us by example, and decreed that we all need to take sabbath rest.

Often ministers are tempted to ignore this edict. They assume that if we work a little harder or a little better, our churches shall really thrive, new converts will be added daily, and more people will begin to tithe. We can talk ourselves into believing that it is all up to us and our exaggerated work ethic. There are times when we are tempted to skip our sabbath. It is sad when elders let us do this. Sometimes they ignore our overwork. Other times they praise us for over-working and/or sabbath breaking. This, of course, leads to tired clergy who don’t function at their best. Sabbath is good for us.

My Sabbath has come. Soon I will be leaving on vacation to my cabin. I will be away through Labor Day and will not be blogging during this time. I thank all of you who have been reading my blogs and especially those of you who have commented on them and dialogued with me about them. Not all the comments have been kind and supportive. Some have even been a little rude. Nevertheless, reading my blogs, and commenting, takes time and effort. I consider it a compliment when a person takes such time. Thank you.   

Please look for  my writings again after Labor Day. Until then, have a blessed summer!                                                                                                                                                                                        

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Creation

#SabbathRest                                                                       #ClergyBurnOut

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

In His Presence: Active or Passive?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 25

July 22, 2019

In His Presence: Active or Passive?

Our lectionary this past Sunday was the very familiar story of Mary and Martha entertaining Jesus. Mary sits at Jesus feet learning from him while Martha does the busy work of entertaining. She certainly has the opportunity to sit with Jesus, but she chooses the role of hospitality, not sitting with him. For Martha, not sitting with Jesus was a choice.

Have you ever been in the presence of someone you were not able to interact with? I had this experience this past week. Most of my life I have had an itch to be an actor. For my sixtieth birthday, as a present to myself, I registered with an agent in New York City. This past week I had my first opportunity to be an “extra.” I was filmed for an episode of an HBO series. I was filmed just six feet away from James Franco. I so wanted to engage him in conversation. Yet, I was unable to. The rules of being an extra is that you don’t engage with the stars. I was six feet from James but could not converse with him!

Besides Martha, I wonder how many people were around Jesus but were not able and/or willing to engage with him. How many people were around Jesus but did not have the courage to speak to him? How many were told that Jesus was “bad” and were not willing to find out for themselves? How many wanted to speak with him but felt that they were not “good enough” to engage. 

We who are disciples of Jesus are always in his presence. Do we actively engage with him or do we take the relationship for granted and ignore the full benefits of it? Jesus is always with us. Are we actively engaged with Jesus or are we passive with our friend? What is the point of being passive? Jesus is with us. Let us actively engage we will be blessed.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                     #Mary&Martha

#JamesFranco                                                                      #Extra

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

Christian Lessons from the USA World Cup Soccer Team

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 24

July 15, 2019

Christian Lessons from the USA World Cup Soccer Team

I don’t usually watch soccer, but I was inspired enough by the USA team winning, to find a rerun of the game on TV and enjoyed it. I also saw media clips of the welcoming parade for the women as well as the controversial speech made by the co-captain of the team, Megan Rapinoe. She celebrated the unity of the team, despite differences in ethnic origins, backgrounds, and sexual orientation. She claimed that it was this unity of purpose that gave our team the victory. I wonder if the Church of Jesus might learn some lessons from Megan’s speech in New York City.

The goal of the disciples of Jesus is to make more disciples, to teach the world what Jesus taught them. They are to call people to justice and righteousness. Too often, we in the church get distracted from this goal. We spend more time wondering “who should be on the team” than keeping that goal before us.

We debate whether those whose worship style is different from ours are really our brothers and sisters. We wonder if we can work with someone who is sexually oriented differently than we are. We spend hours debating the righteousness of others and deciding with whom we can work with and with whom we will not. 

Each of the ladies of this soccer team all began as a little girl who took the first courageous step by kicking their first soccer ball, and persistently kicked that ball, keeping their goal in mind, and not judging their other teammates based on anything but sharing the same goal. Can you imagine if we imitated this team?

If we acted like that team then Christians of all backgrounds, orientations, and appearances would be out making disciples, insisting on justice for all, and caring for those in need. We would minister to others without a thought. Perhaps our goal might be reached and every knee will be bowing and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. It sounds like a fine goal to me. Let us learn from Megan and the other team members. We must be goal oriented and our goal must be to fulfill Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations. The silly things that divide us just get in the way of that goal.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthor.com                                                      #World Cup

#GoalOrientation                                                                  #TeamWork

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: