Pastor Mark's Newsletter (May 2017)

For the past 2 Sundays we have been focusing on missions and the church’s number one priority to fulfill the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)

On April 23rd, I preached the challenge from this text at Thomas Terrace Church (you can view this message on our Facebook page or listen to the podcast on our website).  Jonathan Grooms, President of Global Partners in Peace and Development, challenged us to missions giving by sharing with us what God is doing through our missions outreach in India, Haiti, and the Middle East. God is doing some awesome things through our participation in missions giving.

I want you to prayerfully read the following article by a man who spent most of his life on the mission field.  I pray this challenges you as it did me:

Missionaries encounter many interesting obstacles as they serve on the mission field.  They face the largest task ever – to reach the world.  They face the strongest enemy – Satan himself.  However, they carry the most important message – the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As they go, we must do our best to send them.  We should either go to the foreign field or help send others to the foreign field.

 In the book of Philippians, followers of Christ are commanded to get involved in sending and supporting our missionaries.  This means all members of ever church should be involved.  You see, when church members personally get involved in missions, God uses them in ways they could never have imagined.

  • Every church member should participate in world missions – Philippians 1:5
  • We should demonstrate care for our missionaries – Philippians 1:7-9
  • Praying on behalf of our missionaries is a necessity – Philippians 1:19
  • We should communicate with our missionaries – Philippians 2:17-18
  • We must support them financially to keep them on the field – Philippians 4:10, 14-16

In the late 1700’s, William Carey, considered to be the father of modern missions, was beginning a new mission movement.  He spent 40 years in India proclaiming Christ to the Hindus and pioneering many of the methods missionaries use today.

None of Carey’s accomplishments would have been possible without the help of dedicated Christians back home.  Andrew Fuller recalled Carey’s request for help when he volunteered for the mission to India:

 “We saw there was a goldmine in India, but it was as deep as the center of the earth.  I asked, ‘Who will venture to explore it?’  Carey replied, ‘I will venture to go down, but remember that you must hold the ropes.’”

 Through the years, supporters firmly held the lifeline that sustained Carey and his family through difficult times of loneliness, defeat, and numerous attacks.  The example of these faithful senders challenges us to consider how well we are holding the ropes for our missionaries.

 We must all be willing to make sacrifices in reaching the lost.  When our people are led to participate in missions, God moves upon their hearts to go, pray, and give.

Jon Konnerup
BBFI Missions Director

Let’s join together and help “hold the ropes” for our brothers and sisters on the mission field!

Yours in Christ,
Mark Grooms

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (April 2017)

Though few evangelicals observe the Season of Lent due to its association with the “high church” practices going back to the 4th Century, it is nonetheless a call to spiritual renewal as we approach the annual celebration of the resurrection of Christ. In previous centuries it was also a call for those out of fellowship with the church to be renewed in the fellowship of believers.

So as we contemplate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus let us reflect on what that really means to us as believers and how it should affect our lives. The apostle Paul put it this way to the Romans:  “Brothers and sisters, God has shown you his mercy. So I am asking you to offer up your bodies to him while you are still alive. Your bodies are a holy sacrifice that is pleasing to God. When you offer your bodies to God, you are worshiping him.” Romans 12:1 (NIRV)  

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ took place all because of the mercies of God. And Jeremiah, the prophet tells of the extent of that mercy for His people: “It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23 (KJV)

Because of God’s great grace and mercy to us we should focus our lives and bodies to be a living sacrifice (not a dead one) by committing ourselves again to His high and holy calling upon our lives. After all, God has done for us, the apostle Paul states, that living a life of total commitment to God from here on out is only reasonable.

The old hymn writer sums this all up in his lyrics to  

At Calvary

Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died On Calvary.

Refrain: Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty At Calvary.

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned To Calvary.

Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing Of Calvary!

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span At Calvary!

This Easter lets celebrate the reason for the season by celebrating the millions of lives that have been totally regenerated and transformed by the power of this gospel this year by coming to Christ’s church and worshiping Him.

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (March 2017)

It’s hard to believe that we are already into the third month of 2017. Time marches on with or without our cooperation.  And the Bible has much to say about time and how we use it.  In fact, the word time is recorded 1,231 times in the Bible. Paul wrote that we are to be wise, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). 

Every single person has the same number of minutes and hours each day.  How we use that time determines the quality of our lives or the lack thereof.  The difference between healthy people that achieve great exploits and those who don’t, more often than not, is determined by the way they use their time.  Since time is so important a wise person doesn’t just mark time, they wisely manage their lives around what time they have available and take great care not to waste it. Wise time managers also have a great sense of timing and know when and where to “Carpe Diem” or “seize the day." The great athletes that win the big games are not necessarily the greatest talents, but they know how to seize the moments of great opportunity and win. God has called us to be that kind of Christian; Christians who use our time wisely and seize the moments when those narrow windows of great opportunity come our way. The wise use of time and timing will determine the success of our lives and eternity. One day, we are going to give an account to our LORD for how we spent our time.

Have you ever been to a cemetery and noticed the names on the marker and underneath it gives two dates with a dash between them?  Every single body in that cemetery has that dash. It matters not if they were young or old, rich or poor, famous or lived in anonymity; their lives are represented by that dash. That dash can represent 1 day to over 100 years, depending on the length of their individual lives. That dash represents time; what they did or did not do with it. What will the dash at your gravesite represent about your life when you die?  Make your “dash” count!

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (February 2017)

What are you worried about?  What keeps you up at night tossing and turning in the bed?  Are you aware that worry is hazardous to your health, not to mention your facial countenance?

The apostle Paul tells us “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT). 

You may be thinking, “Well, I don’t worry, I just have cause for concerns.” And while there is merit in that statement, because concern is different from worry, most of the time what we consider “concern” is really worry in disguise. And we are in denial, yet the effects of worry are taking its affect on us.

Worry is telling God that you can’t trust Him; that He can’t take care of the situation or the circumstances. Ah, but He can.

For the next several weeks at Thomas Terrace, we are going to be looking at God’s cure for worry through the book of Habakkuk, a small book in the minor prophets, yet a powerful challenge to turn worry into worship, as Warren Weirsbe coins it. So beginning this Sunday, February 5, I will begin this new series at 10:30 a.m.

Also, if you are not able to attend, you may watch our live stream of the message on our Facebook page.  Click here to “like” our page. 

Yours for a thriving faith in 2017!

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (January 2017)

Happy New Year!!! Out with the old, in with the new. 2016 is now a part of history. You can’t go back and change a thing you did, said, or the choices you regret from last year. We all have to live with the consequences of yesterday’s actions and choices. While the Bible teaches that we are to learn from our mistakes, and through the trials and testing’s of life; Paul exhorts us “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13). Since you can’t change the past, forget it; and focus on a positive and prosperous future.

Today is a new start! 2017 will have opportunities for us that will challenge us and propel us onward to accomplish things beyond our wildest dreams right now. God has great plans for you this year! And the only one standing in the way of it becoming reality is you! You must be committed to know God so intimately that you will always recognize His voice and follow Him immediately. God used the apostle Paul to change the whole entire world because of this commitment; “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10). Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27, KJV). In 2017 we need to be sensitive to hear the voice of God and what He is saying and doing! And we need to be ready to join Him in His activity at a moments notice. We don’t want to miss out on the opportunities nor the blessings that God wants to give as Paul describes as “…exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

The theme and focus at Thomas Terrace Baptist Church for 2017 is THRIVING FAITH. We are determined to attempt great things for God, expecting great things from God! I trust you will join us at Thomas Terrace Baptist Church in this new year of exciting prospects for exponential faith and spiritual growth in Christ.

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (December 2016)

Getting into the Christmas spirit?  Those who work in the mental health field tell us that the Christmas season is not a happy and joyful time for many people.  For too many it is a sad time of depression, and even worse, suicides.  Perhaps the reason so many suffer is due in part because of unrealistic and overly materialistic expectations, which always leads to emptiness.  The spirit of Christmas is all about Christ, and when you leave Christ out of Christmas the season it becomes a meaningless and hopeless event that leaves those without Christ in spiritual and mental despair.

Though the origin of the Christmas holiday does not have a biblical basis and was not celebrated by the early church, it has evolved over the centuries into a commemoration of the birth of the Christ child, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus did not command His disciples to remember His birth, but rather His death, burial and resurrection.  However the virgin birth of Christ is a most important doctrine of Christ and His church. For in His virgin birth a multitude of messianic prophecies concerning the details of His birth were fulfilled to the letter, thus proving His deity; He is Immanuel: God with us.  

God became a man in order to redeem mankind from the power and penalty of sin.  His birth was supernatural, His life engaged and demonstrated the supernatural, and while His death fulfilled His purposes, wicked men who denied their Creator did it in the natural realm and Christ was brutally executed.  BUT in His supernatural resurrection from the dead He demonstrated the power of His deity and brought salvation, hope, joy, love, and peace to any and all who will embrace Him by faith. 

So when you put Christ back in Christmas and focus on giving and helping and serving and loving others, it will change your whole attitude from depression to a spiritual euphoria.  Stop thinking about yourself and how you feel, and think about others and what you can do for them. The apostle Paul gave this admonition to the early church that sums it all up: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).  Keep reading, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).  That is the Spirit of Christ and it is the spirit of Christmas.

Merry Christmas, and by that I mean have a great time celebrating the real reason for the season!  Happy birthday, JESUS!

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (November 2016)

During the last days of the reign of King Saul the nation of Israel was in total chaos. Saul, who had been appointed by God to be the first King of Israel, had turned from God so far that in a last ditch effort to hold onto his throne he consulted the witch at Endor, an act, absolutely forbidden by God.  David, as King Saul’s successor, having already been anointed by God as king, assessed the conditions of his beloved nation and wrote, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).  As we assess the condition of our nation today, facing an election cycle that is unprecedented in our 240-year history, we might ask the same question.  The foundation of our once great nation began eroding, as the secularists became the prevailing voice and control of the narrative.  Our nations history has been revised to fit that narrative.  What can the righteous do?  Tuesday, November 8th, is Election Day. As a Christian you need to cast a Holy Spirit-led vote.  

Bill Wheaton, who heads up our moral concerns ministry, and currently teaching a DLC class (Foundations of Freedom) each Wednesday evening here at Thomas Terrace Baptist Church, presented the following challenge to his class, a challenge we should all accept, as believers in Jesus Christ.

Day of Prayer and Fasting

On March 30, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln called for a national day of prayer and fasting, in which he addressed what he called the need for "our national reformation as a whole people."

"We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God," Lincoln said, adding that it was our duty "to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness...."
How can we as Americans in 2016 do any less?   The American Family Association (AFA) is calling for a national day of prayer and fasting. It is time that we, as Christians, recognize our need to repent of our own wickedness and cry out to the Lord for forgiveness - and that He might heal our broken land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

AFA has designated Monday, November 7, as a day when we join in seeking God's face. However you participate - one meal, two meals, all day - please join with those who will be crying out for mercy for our broken nation.

A word about Fasting:  In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus says, “When you fast…” not if you fast.  It is something He expects us to do.

A total fast is refraining from consuming anything for a period of time.  A partial fast is refraining from consuming something (solid food, liquid, etc.) for a specific period of time.  If you have medical issues, such as diabetes, check with your doctor before undertaking a fast.

A Biblical day begins in the evening (see Genesis 1:3) so to fast for Monday, November 7, we start at sundown Sunday, November 6 and go to sundown November 7th.  

In Lynchburg, sunset on Sunday November 6th occurs at 5:13 pm (we go back to standard time the night previous).  For those wishing to fast for a day, you should not eat anything after 5:12 pm.

Sunset on Monday, November 7th occurs at 5:12 pm so you may resume eating at that time.

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (October 2016)

What a mighty God we serve! No wonder the angels bow before Him, heaven and earth adore Him and declare His great glory and holiness! No matter what is happening in the world at large or your personal world, God is on the throne and sovereignly working to perform His will in heaven and on earth (Mt. 6:10). 

What is your view of God? Your view of God will determine how you live your life as well as the end result of it. Paul challenges us in the book of Ephesians to live up to the position and blessing God has ordained for our lives (Eph. 1:5; 2:6). While God has not called Christians to live in a bed of flowery ease, He has called us to a high and holy life filled with all kinds of exciting encounters. Even the events in our lives that are troublesome and seem to be catastrophes God takes them to mold our character and uses them to fit us for His purposes and to share in His eternal glory (I Peter 5:4). 

What began as a meeting filled with hurt, confusion, and disappointment some months back produced a seed that brought about the rebirth of the AWANA program again at TTBC. This ministry to children has generated an excitement and a new enthusiasm for ministry. Only this morning, September 29th, when I went to pick up my grandchildren to take them to school, they were going over their AWANA books and memorizing the Scripture verses; to become workers, not ashamed. God is doing an awesome ministry with these children who the future leaders of the church and the country. 

God is also working in a mighty way through the CEF, “After School Club” at Concord Elementary School, with Kim Martin and her team from TTBC along with Chad Harris and his team from Calvary Baptist.  The growth of the program this year has been exponential with kids excited to learn about Jesus and His salvation! God is good! He is awesome! God is working! Praise His name!