Pastor Mark's Newsletter (April 2018)

A Word About Missions

Back in March of 1984 I was ministering in the Philippine Islands. We were island hopping from island to island preaching prophecy conferences in various churches along with my dad, J.O. Grooms and Lewis “Buck” Ferrell.  One evening we were taken to a Filipino led missions conference. We weren’t there to speak, just to listen.

I remember one Filipino evangelist in particular because of what he said. And what he said disturbed and irritated me at the same time. He said the thrust of world missions had traveled around the world beginning at Jerusalem moving westward through the centuries until reaching the shores of Americas, where for over a century America was the sending agents of missionaries around the world. But now America has lost its vision for missions as a base of launching missionaries and it is coming to the Philippines Island, which will be the next launching pad.

First of all, I was offended. “Nobody can do anything better than Americans,” I thought. “And besides, you don’t have the resources to be the launching pad for anything, much less world evangelism.” But I NEVER forgot those words. They stung my ears and pricked my heart. I was challenged! I needed to do more.

Fast-forward 34 years to 2018, and that man’s vision has become reality through the ministry of Greg Lyons, Global Surge and The Rawlings Foundation. Today, because of their efforts, missionaries from the Philippines are flooding into all of Southeast Asia with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and even into Africa and many other nations around the globe. In fact, they are going where Americans aren’t even allowed to go.

I’m so glad we get to be a part of something larger than just Thomas Terrace Baptist Church and Central Virginia. Through our missions giving and prayers we’re apart of a worldwide effort to advance the gospel into places we don’t even realize exists. Isn’t that awesome? To God be the glory!

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (January 2018)

Happy New Years! For many people, that means a new beginning; a new start. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, the prophet Jeremiah in his lamentations over his spiritually sick nation wrote, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” (Jeremiah 3:22-25, NKJV)

If we are really going to enjoy a new beginning there are some things we must consider.

#1. God’s mercies are new every morning. So every morning you wake up acknowledge God’s mercy and His presence in your life and in the world.

#2. God is faithful! Too often we put God in a box and judge His faithfulness by the standards of those around us. And let’s face it; there are very few sincerely faithful people. So we believe that is how God is going to be in kind. But Paul told young Timothy, that even “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (II Timothy 2:13, NKJV)

#3. God is our hope! If you take God out of the equation all hope is gone. God is sovereign and He is in control. You can trust Him with everything going on in your life and the future.

#4. Be determined to seek the Lord everyday this year. Schedule a time daily to meet with God in His Word. Sure, we can see God in His creation and enjoy the beauties of nature He made. But to really seek God means to immerse yourself in His Word. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16, NKJV) In other words, develop the habit of worshiping God everyday, not just on Sunday.

If you will commit to reading your Bible everyday and begin to commit God’s Word to memory, you’ll be amazed in a year from now the difference God will make in your life!

Do you really want a new beginning? Or, do you want to continue down the same failed rut and frustration of life in which you now reside? It’s your choice, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him.”

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (December 2017)

“Tis the season…” Christmas Day is only 24 days away.  Seems like last week we were celebrating this exciting time of the year as we commemorate the birth of the Son of God.  Time flies for us, and the older we get it seems the faster time goes.  In the human realm time is relative and we measure life accordingly. 

But God measures life and all that appertains to it from the eternal perspective. Therefore, in the Christian life we celebrate this reality of Christmas every day. We celebrate the incarnation of God, Emmanuel – God with us!  And He’s with us every day, all day; and never leaves nor forsakes us!  That’s why Paul wrote, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season…” (II Timothy 4:2).  In other words, this truth is an eternal truth from eternity past, to eternity future, and it will never change.

Jesus is the reason for the season!  Therefore, our focus should be on Him.  Our actions should reflect Him.  And our attitudes should be that of a grateful and giving heart.  He set the example: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16).

With all of the gift giving during this season, remember it is His birthday, so we should give a special Christmas gift to Jesus with a Christmas offering to His church at Thomas Terrace.  For your convenience you can give online on our website: Your special gift, over and above your tithes and offering will help the church budget to close out in the black and give us a great start for the new year in January 2018.

From my home to yours we pray you will enjoy a very merry Christmas and a most blessed New Year. And remember, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (November 2017)

Just before the children of Israel were about to enter into the Promised Land of Canaan, God gave Moses some last minute instruction for them to keep in mind and observe once they entered into the land. It is interesting as you read the book of Deuteronomy how many times we find the word, “remember.”  And in Deuteronomy 32:7, we read: “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you:”

There is a good reason why God tells us to remember the days of old because they remind us of what we should be doing and stand as a warning against the things we should be avoiding. George Santayana is attributed as being the originator of this famous quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And that is basically why God constantly exhorts and admonishes us to remember the past so that we don’t repeat the mistakes, and we will learn the testimony of those who did the right things, the right way, at the right time.

However, there is an element in our culture today that is determined to completely erase the past, the good, the bad and the ugly of it. I was listening to the news on Wednesday morning, October 31, 2017, and they were reporting that the leftist’s history revisionists are demanding the removal of a plague in the Christ Church, in Alexandria, VA, that honors George Washington, the father of our nation, and first President, and the FACT that he worshiped in the church. The logic of such thinking defies all rationale and reason. And the worst thing about this is that the push to erase true history is being propagated by the academic community in our state colleges and universities. These institutions have abandoned truth and become indoctrination centers for the extreme left, to preach and teach their anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-Truth, demonic politically correct philosophies. And those who sit under these instructors have become what Karl Marx described as “useful idiots.” So is it any wonder we have these people “the useful idiots” out marching and kneeling in protest who have no idea as to what they are protesting? Taking down plagues and statutes are not going to change one single wrong of the past. But remembering the past for what it was serves as a vivid reminder of what we don’t want to be doing or become.

I’ve written all that to write this: the election tomorrow is all about whether we will remember the past and learn from it, or remove and revise the past and be condemned to repeat its mistakes, its tragedies, and be confined to its demise. This is a crucial election and your vote matters. Study the candidates and vote for the ones that align the closest to the principles and precepts of the Word of God and those who encourage us to learn from history, not destroy it.

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (October 2017)

These words to an old song written by R.E. Winsett, back in 1942, seem to capture the attitude of our world in 2017:

“Troublesome times are here, filling men's hearts with fear.
Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake…”

When those words were penned, Pearl Harbor, in the Hawaiian Islands, had just recently been attacked thrusting the United States of America into a two-front war, in World War II. The people living on the West Coast of the United States were living in constant fear of an imminent attack on their neighborhoods by the Japanese Navy. Many Japanese Americans were rounded up and put into internment camps for the duration of the war. It was a horrible and scary time for everyone in this nation. However, during that time the churches in America were filled each and every Sunday with people calling upon God for His mercy, grace, protection, and wisdom. They especially prayed for His protection over our soldiers overseas, many who made the ultimate sacrifice. The United States was indeed united during that perilous period.

Fast-forward 75 years to our world today with the threat of a nuclear holocaust on the horizon. Indeed troublesome times are here, and once again filling men’s hearts with fear! But unlike America in the 1940’s, people are staying away from the church, avoiding God and the realities of a world gone mad. We have a nation so divided that we can’t even enjoy a simple football game anymore. Liberals hate conservatives and Christians, and unfortunately, Christians and conservatives react in kind. Violence is filling our land as passions are running hot, and toning down the rhetoric doesn’t seem likely. Chaos is the rule of the day! So what are we to do?

As believers in Jesus Christ, we MUST remember that we are citizens of 2 worlds. First, and foremost, we are citizens of God’s kingdom. Paul wrote, “For our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20, NKJV) Therefore, our first allegiance belongs to God. For, “He has saved us from the kingdom of darkness. He has brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” (Colossians 1:13, NIRV) So our top priority as a believer is found in the words of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV) And we must keep this in the forefront of our minds as we deal with our citizenship in this world.

Second, we are citizens of the United States of America or whatever country in which your citizenship lies. As believers, we should be willing to die in defense of The Faith just as many Americans have died for the honor of our flag. As American citizens and residents, we must hold their sacred honor in the highest earthly regard. We, as believers, are to honor and respect them while maintaining a good testimony before those who are not believers and do not behave as they should. Here again, Paul exhorts us, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live.” (I Thessalonians 4:11-12, NLT)

When it comes to righteousness versus unrighteousness believers must take a bold stand for righteousness and truth every time, all the time. But when it comes to football games and players standing or not standing during the national anthem, I think we would be wise to follow Paul’s instructions in I Thessalonians 4:11-12. We have a much higher calling than to be entangled with matters that are not eternal.

On Sunday morning, October 8th at 10:30, I will begin a new message series from II Timothy on “Learning to Live Above the Chaos.” In this four-message series, Paul gives us some healthy instructions on how to maintain our sanity in insane times. 

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (September 2017)

Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer from the 19th century, wrote these familiar words: “To God be the glory, great things He has done!” And those words do indeed describe what God has done at Thomas Terrace Baptist Church over the past 29 years.

On September 18, 1988, Thomas Terrace Baptist Church was officially organized with a few families from the Concord community. The late Dr. Dennis Fields from Liberty University had come to help this small fledgling group organize and charter the new church. They were men and women of great vision and faith. They were also prayer warriors committed to praying for and reaching the hurting, the helpless and the people without hope of Central Virginia.

I had the privilege of coming to speak as a possible candidate for pastor just a couple of months later, in November of 1988. And on the 1st Sunday of December the church voted to call me as their pastor. I was honored then and remain so for that call. I’ve spent the majority of my 43 years of ministry here at Thomas Terrace Baptist Church and I believe it is the greatest church in the world, only because of what God has done. Through these years hundreds of people have come to faith in Christ following the Lord in believer’s baptism. I’ve watched children grow up through our children’s ministry to become adult leaders in this and other churches around the United States. We are witnessing a 3rd generation of kids growing up in this ministry today. Through the years, Thomas Terrace Baptist Church has partnered in planting 2 churches here in Virginia with former associate pastors, both of which are going strong in the advancement of the kingdom of God. To God be ALL the glory, great things He has done!

So on Sunday morning, September 17th we will be celebrating our 29th Anniversary as a Homecoming Sunday. We will not only celebrate the victories and blessings from God but I will be sharing some of the vision for what lies ahead! After the 10:30 service, we will be having an old-fashioned celebration dinner in the John Cyrus Family Life Center.  Make plans now to attend and celebrate this great milestone.

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (August 2017)

For the past 4 weeks, in our sermon series at Thomas Terrace Baptist Church, we have been talking about “Overcoming Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups” that are messing up our lives. Everybody has issues of one sort or another that must be dealt with if we are to have the life that Jesus said we are to live. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  

Unfortunately, most Christian’s live very dysfunctional lives spiritually which spills over into every area of their lives. They have no idea what it means to have life and have it more abundantly. And though they claim to know Jesus and the fact that Jesus said that the abundant life is what He came to bring, it eludes them. Instead, they find themselves frustrated, disappointed, and disillusioned. And why is that? It’s because they have tried to function spiritually from a humanistic worldview which is doomed before it starts.

In our sermon series, which you can watch on our Facebook page or listen to on our Podcast, we have been talking about how to face these issues, how to get the right kind of help, letting go of the things that harm us and coming clean with ourselves, God, and other people. God wants to set you free but He needs your cooperation. So, I challenge you to come this Sunday as we learn how to cooperate with God in making the changes we need to make to overcome the hurts, the habits and the hang-ups that are messing up our lives.

Pastor Mark's Newsletter (July 2017)

Today we celebrate the 241st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America from the rule of Great Britain. While today the United States enjoys a great relationship with our mother country, and greatest modern ally, 241 years ago it was altogether a different situation.  Among other things there was the issue of taxation without representation, the right to free speech, and the right to preach the gospel without a license from the government. Patrick Henry’s famous quote “Give me liberty or give me death…” was a reaction, in part, to having witnessed a Baptist preacher being flogged in Culpepper, Virginia for preaching without a license. Today we enjoy great religious liberty because of our Founding Father’s actions on this historic date.

While we celebrate the founding of our nation today with parades, picnics, cookouts, ball games and other activities, let us not forget the heavy price the signers of that declaration of independence paid in order that we might enjoy our freedoms and blessings.  We need to pause and give thanks for their sacrifice and commitment to a cause greater than themselves. We need to thank God for the millions of men and women who have served in our armed forces over the past 241 years, many of whom paid the ultimate price to ensure the preservation of our way of life here in America. We need to thank the men of God who, through these many years, have beckoned the clarion call of revival to keep the nation walking in the light of the Truth of God. And the Truth is Jesus! As long as the Truth is proclaimed and obeyed we shall be free! For as Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. …Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:32, 36  


Pastor Mark's Newsletter (June 2017)

The psalmist wrote, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD’ (Psalm 122:1)." It should always be exhilarating and exciting being in church. The joy of being in church with God’s people is a result of a right heart relationship with God. When you find church a drag and God’s people a bore it could very well be a problem in your spiritual walk with God.

The psalmist, David, had a hunger and thirst for God that was insatiable.  He wrote, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2)." And throughout the psalms you find where David had a heart for God. That’s why he was glad when it was time to go into the house of the Lord.

When the thought “going to church” enters your mind, what is your immediate response or reaction? Are you glad and excited and can’t wait to be in church or do you think there are a million other things you could be doing or want to do? That’s a telltale sign of your fellowship with God. We can attend church and still not have the joy of the Lord in doing so. Therefore, it is imperative that we engage in an all consuming passion for and pursuit of God, by spending time every day reading His Word and “…praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:19)." When that’s our passion we can sing with the psalmist, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord!”

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Mark Grooms

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!