PastorMarkCast

PastorMarkCast

In this week’s episode Pastor Mark talks about long-term friendships and an unexpected reunion that he had this past weekend.

Pastor Mark is a Christian Pastor, author, blogger, and sometimes background actor. He brings all of his years of life experience to ask spiritual questions about the ordinary events of life.

Go to this link to hear the podcast: https://rss.com/podcasts/pastormarkchat/791403/

An Unexpected Reunion

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2023 Blog #4

January 23, 2023

An Unexpected Reunion

I graduated from high school in 1976 and I haven’t seen many people from high school since graduation. I did go to our 40th reunion in 2016. But haven’t kept in touch with very many of those classmates since. One exception is Nick with whom I have been Facebook friends with for a number of years. This past weekend I had the honor of officiating at Nick’s daughter’s wedding. It was a beautiful event but it had a surprise for me that I never saw coming.

Unlike me, Nick has kept in touch with many of our classmates. He went through grammar school and high school with a core of friends and these people have stayed friends all these years. They even have get-together several times a year. This group were all wedding guests and I had the privilege of seeing these old classmates once again. Nick made sure that we all got to sit at the same table. It was like a high school reunion.

I admire this group of guys who have stayed so close with one another. Several times a year they have gotten together. They have attended the funerals for the parents of one another. They even gathered together when one member suffered the tragic death of a daughter. It has been forty seven years since graduation, yet this group formed long before high school. They have been a support system for more than fifty years. In a world where relationships are increasingly temporary, this group has maintained permanent relationships. I admire and envy this group. These people know what true friendships are.

There is something for all of us to learn from this group. Their friendships have been maintained because they are present for one another. How present are we for those who we know? Are we as willing to serve others as much as this group does? I wish that faith communities took care of one another to the same extent that this group does. If we want to be served we must be willing to serve others and that service is contagious. I pray that this is a lesson that we will all learn just a little bit better.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

#StJosephofthePalisades                                       #HighSchoolReunion

#Friendships                                                             #Relationships

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

PastorMarkCast

PastorMarkCast

In this week’s episode Pastor Mark pays tribute to a 105 year old Christian Saint and friend who recently died.

Pastor Mark is a Christian Pastor, author, blogger, and sometimes background actor. He brings all of his years of life experience to ask spiritual questions about the ordinary events of life.

Go to this link to hear the podcast: https://rss.com/podcasts/pastormarkchat/780971/

One Hundred Five Years of Christian Living

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2023 Blog #3

January 16, 2023

One Hundred Five Years of Christian Living

Dr. Irving Pitman

I attended the funeral for a beloved Christian man on Saturday. He was 105 years old at the time of his death in November. For years he was a faithful member of the congregation that I serve but several years ago he and his wife moved to Suffolk County to live with his son and daughter in law. The last house that he lived in was the house that he went to as a little boy for summer vacations.

Dr. Irving Pitman was one of the true Christian Gentlemen that I have met in my life. He was an elder in three different churches, two Reformed Churches and one Presbyterian and he served on the chaplaincy board of a local hospital. I was sad and I missed him when he moved from our church out to Long Island several years ago.

I didn’t speak at his funeral. The minister of the Presbyterian church in Long Island conducted the service but a number of people rose to give remembrances of “Doc” Pitman. The stories were all similar: Irv’s love for Jesus was apparent, he made friends quickly, and he never defined himself as “old.” When others were telling him that he could not do something, he would do it anyway. Some people exist. Irving “Doc” Pitman lived and lived every day that life gave him.

I do not know why Irv was such a wonderful person. I don’t know if his devotion, energy and love of life was a genetic gift he had, or the way that he was raised. I don’t know if God gave him an extra amount of Spirit. Somehow, Irving was an extraordinary Christian who did good wherever he went. He had only lived in Long Island for several years, but his neighbors there, showered him with praise as though they had known him for a long time.

I write this blog as a tribute to Doctor Irving Pitman, my role model for Christian living. I hope that someday I might begin to live as good a life as he did. Most folks who live lives this long have small funeral; most of their friends have already died. Irving continued to live a Christian life, and engaged people each day of his 105 year life. If we wish to be remembered so well, let us begin a Christian life in imitation of Irving’s life.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

#DrIrvingPitman                                                       #ChristianLiving

#RoleModel                                                               #Saint

PastorMarkCast

PastorMarkCast

In this week’s episode Pastor Mark discusses the question of what it takes to be a Christian. A number of people have a number of definitions. What does Jesus say?

Pastor Mark is a Christian Pastor, author, blogger, and sometimes background actor. He brings all of his years of life experience to ask spiritual questions about the ordinary events of life.

Go to this link to hear the podcast: https://rss.com/podcasts/pastormarkchat/772237/

A Promise of Welcome

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

A Promise of Welcome

By Amy Clemens on January 9, 2023

Read: Hebrews 4:14-16

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (v. 16)

A throne of grace. What a beautiful picture of the place our God reigns from, especially in our time of need. When Jesus died, the sin of all the world past, present, and future was swallowed up, instantly gone, forever forgotten.

Think about it for a moment: the same incredible sacrifice that gives us relief from separation and judgment offers God the same. Separation and judgment required much of God too—his holiness made the companionship and hospitality he intended toward creation from the beginning impossible. But when the perfect sacrifice was made and the curtain in the temple tore—from top to bottom, signifying no human had done it—the door to the throne room opened again, welcoming us to enter confidently, seeking to “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v. 16).

This passage helps us understand the Father’s intent toward us: relationship, intimacy, hospitality. The throne room, a place of awe and holiness, beckons that we trust a big God and take him at his word. Our imperfection is covered. We are not looked at skeptically, the way the world has taught us to eye each other. That’s very good news for us—and for the God who longs to be present to us. —Amy Clemens

As you pray, express your gratitude to Jesus, who with his perfect, final sacrifice gave his Father great relief from looking at the sin of the world and bid us welcome to the throne of grace.

Careful of the Backstory

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Careful of the Backstory

By Amy Clemens on January 3, 2023

Read: Jeremiah 29:10-23

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (v. 11)

Context is important. If someone shows up in the ER clutching his leg, screaming, the team needs to know if it’s a broken bone or snakebite. If a serial adulterer wants to marry you, the backstory better be illuminated.

Treating today’s passage without context is like treating a broken leg as a snakebite, or getting married without asking questions. Verse 11 appears on plaques, T-shirts, Bible covers, artwork. It’s often on the lips without the speaker being aware of the backstory. The promise is wonderful, but it was spoken over such tragedy. God’s people had failed miserably. They didn’t follow his law, didn’t listen to his voice, and their leaders were corrupt. In short, their society was falling apart. God’s word to them was that being taken as slaves to another country was literally the only way to stay alive.

Then, and only then, did he make this promise.

Why does it matter? Because knowing the heart of God matters. Understanding he is for you, even when tragedy of your own making unfolds, matters. Learning to trust him, even in the darkness when there is no light, matters (Isa. 50:10).

So, yes, trust the promise that he has good plans for you, but remember the backstory: a story of our God, shepherding those he loves to a place where they seek him with all their hearts. —Amy Clemens

As you pray, commit to God to understand the backstory—so you don’t cherry-pick his promises

Podcast on Amazing Grace

PastorMarkCast

In this week’s episode Pastor Mark discusses the 250th anniversary of the hymn Amazing Grace, its history, why it was written and the impact it has had on our world.

Pastor Mark is a Christian Pastor, author, blogger, and sometimes background actor. He brings all of his years of life experience to ask spiritual questions about the ordinary events of life.

Go to this link to hear the podcast:https://rss.com/podcasts/pastormarkchat/763685/

Two Hundred Fifty Years of Amazing Grace

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2023 Blog #1

January 2, 2023

Two Hundred Fifty Years of Amazing Grace

I don’t know any church-goer who does not know the hymn Amazing Grace. Perhaps every Christian, despite musical ability, has sung this hymn. Those who have not sung it in church have certainly heard it sung or heard it played on a musical instrument. It has a catchy tune, wonderfully comforting lyrics and it is simply enough to be sung by people who have no musical training.

Even the secular world knows this song. Susan Boyle sang it after her musical career began following her time on “Britain’s Got Talent.” Star Trek fans remember that Engineer Montgomery Scott played this song on the bag pipes in the second Star Trek Movie: “The Wrath of Kahn.” The occasion for Scotty’s performance was the funeral for Mr. Spock. I would speculate that this Christian song is the best know Christian song among non-Christian people.

The history of the writing of this hymn I have always found interesting. In brief, this hymn was written by Rev. John Newton. Newton was a priest in the Anglican Church. He had not always been a priest. For many years he had earned a living as a sea captain. He was not just any sea captain. He was the captain of a ship that imported black slaves from Africa to England.

While he was still a sea captain, he suffered a shipwreck but was rescued by a friend of his father. Both his father and the friend were also ship captains. John Newton was rescued but on the way home the rescuing boat rain into a bad storm. The storm was fierce enough to make the sailors believe that they would die in it. It was during the storm that Newton prayed for mercy. In doing so, he remembered his prayers from early childhood. His mother was a devout Christian and had taught young John to pray but she had died when he was seven years old. Following her death, his father had taken him to sea and that began John’s journey toward becoming a sea captain.

Newton’s prayer for mercy was heard and the ship survived the storm. This brush with death began his journey of exploring Christianity. Eventually he was indeed ordained and became a pastor and hymn writer. In this particular hymn, Amazing Grace, he contemplates on the amount of undeserved grace that he had received to get him from a slaver in dire peril to a minister with a  solid congregation running outreach programs for the unchurched.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

The premier of this hymn was January 1, 1773. He wrote it to correspond with his new year’s day sermon. Rev. Newton was not finished his work yet. In gratitude for receiving the grace he had received and in repentance for the time he spent enslaving people, he became active in the abolitionist movement in England. This movement was eventually successful as slavery was outlawed in England in 1833, a full thirty years before it was outlawed in the United States.

I’m sure that Newton never dreamed that his hymn would be so well know 250 years later. He simply did what he was called to do and did it to the best of his ability. Then he let God decide what impact his work would have.

What about the work we do? Will it be remembered 250 years from now? Maybe and maybe not. That is not for us to worry about. Our job is to live lives that please God and let God worry about what impact our works will have.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

#AmazingGrace                                                       #JohnNewton

#Conversion                                                             #Penance

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

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Church on Christmas Day? You Have To Be Kidding!

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #51

December 26, 2022

Church on Christmas Day? You Have To Be Kidding!

A week ago a friend and ministerial colleague posted a New York Times article on Facebook that discussed whether or not churches ought to hold Sunday services yesterday because it was Christmas Day. Apparently a number of churches are considering not having Sunday worship because of Christmas. Christmas Day has not fallen on a Sunday in quite a number of years. I rather enjoyed going to church on Christmas morning on the occasions that Sunday and Christmas Day fall on the same day. When my daughter pastored a Lutheran church I enjoyed visiting her on Christmas morning. They held a communion service every Christmas and I really enjoyed it.

According to the New York Times article, those churches who were planning to hold worship on Sunday were doing so because it is Sunday and they worship on Sunday. Period! Why should they stop having Sunday worship because it is Christmas? An elder of mine who was raised catholic told me that when he was a boy, Christmas Day was considered a “day of obligation.” Christians were expected to go to church on Christmas Day, no matter what day of the week that it fell on. When did this practice fall out of being a common obligation?

The New York Times reports that Churches who are did not hold worship on Christmas Day were cancelling because of the potential for “low attendance.” When did that ever stop the church? As religiosity declines in the United States, many of us deal with low attendance on a weekly basis. When did low attendance ever stop us?

When my friend and ministerial colleague, Rev. Rhonda Meyers, posted this New York Times article on Facebook she wrote the following personal comment, “…But just as I once said resurrection prayers for a funeral no one attended, I will lead worship on the Lord’s Day even if there are few in attendance. What better way to celebrate the gift of the incarnation than to worship God with songs of joy and words of praise.”

Does large attendance really matter or is Christmas a “Day of Obligation” for Christians regardless of congregational size? I wonder if perhaps in the future, all congregations ought to consider worship on Christmas Day regardless what day of the week that it falls on.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #PastorMarkAuthor            

#BergenCounty                                                        #BergenfieldNJ

#Christmas                                                                #ChristmasDay

#DaysofObligation                                                   #RhondaMyers