Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Whitened Harvest Fields

The Whitened Harvest Fields

There is an old children's story about a “Little Red Hen” who decided to bake some bread. After asking all of her animal friends to help with various tasks like gathering the wheat, grinding the wheat, kneading the dough, and baking the bread; she finally did the whole thing herself because no one was interested in helping. Yet after she had baked such a wonderful loaf of bread it seemed that everyone was willing to help eat it. But the Little Red Hen was wise; she told her friends that she would be enjoying the whole loaf for herself!

Sadly, many Christians have adopted the same attitude as the Little Red Hen’s animal friends. The Lord calls each of us to the harvest fields for work. But it seems there aren’t very many volunteers. The work is hard – and it takes a valuable investment of time, talents, and resources. Too often we see neither the importance of the labor nor the consequence of our lack of it. Funny though, isn’t it, how once a ministry shows success, it seems everyone wants a piece of the "wonderfully baked bread.” Jesus said:

"The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.” -- Luke 10:2

What exactly do the words “whitened harvest” mean? It means that it is nearly past harvest time. A white harvest in the wheat field means that the waving, golden grain is no longer golden, but even the stock is turning white. Being overripe, the head is opening up and grain is falling to the ground. Does it seem sometimes that the world around us is “falling to the ground?”

Our falling world – our harvest field – is Mower County; and it is ready for harvest! Souls are falling to the ground. Like Jesus, we need to pray for our whitened harvest fields, asking God to move us with compassion for the unsaved. Matthew 9:36 illustrates for us the concern Jesus has for the lost: “But when He saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Do you see people fainted and scattered? And do you share the compassion of Jesus for them?

Say not ye, ‘There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?’ Behold I say unto you, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look on the field; for they are white already to harvest.’ ” -- John 4:35

Just as there is a right time for farmers to bring in the harvest, there is a right time to begin the harvest of precious souls. And before the fields are ready to harvest, they must be plowed and sowed and tilled. There are teachable moments -- receptive times in the hearts of the unsaved. We need to understand this and prepare accordingly.

As we go into the harvest season of 2005 here at Crane Chapel, we will begin to understand and prepare as we begin a sermon series on The Whitened Harvest Fields. We will learn from our Lord the Need to harvest souls. We’ll study and absorb the Master’s teaching as He Looks at and deals with all types of souls in the whitened harvest fields. We’ll understand the need for Compassion. We’ll study about the necessity of Praying for our harvest field. We’ll examine scriptural commands to Go into the fields and consider our role as Workers. We’ll learn and understand that there will be Weeping as we go into the fields: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy….” --Psalm 126: 5-6. And finally, we will appreciate the Sure Result of our work in the harvest fields. Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

As we move through this series on the harvest of souls, we will be singing the words of a beautiful hymn. The words seem so appropriate to our study. Let these words resonate in your heart over the next weeks and pray that God will indeed “lay some soul upon your heart.”

“Lord, lay some soul upon my heart,
And love that soul through me;
And may I nobly do my part
To win that soul for Thee.”

Your Fellow-Laborer in the Fields,
Pastor Mark Goossen

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Final Words...

Final Words . . .
We’ve all heard stories about the mother who receives a tender letter from a son on the battlefield within days of his ill-timed death. My own mother-in-law has such a box of cherished letters written home to family by her brother Paul. I will meet him some day in Heaven! We all give careful attention to the words that are written to us from someone we love who is far away. When a friend or loved-one leaves us, we cling to those last spoken words. The same holds true for the precious words spoken from the deathbed of someone dear to us. Final words are lovingly received and treasured forever.

In Peter’s final message to us in II Peter 3, he exhorts us in four areas. He encourages us to make a Commitment to God’s Word, a Commitment to His Second Coming, a Commitment to Evangelism, and a Commitment to Holy Living. Like so many passages of Scripture, we have here a set of essential elements for living the Christian life. We need to take these four Commitments seriously. Let’s receive them lovingly and treasure them forever!
Over the next few weeks as we go into October, we’re going to begin a series of sermons entitled “The Whitened Harvest Field. We’ll hear some practical messages on sharing Christ with others. Please come -- and invite someone to join you.

Your Servant,
Pastor Mark

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Great and Precious Promises

Great & Precious Promises . . .
The last “precious” in our sermon series is found in II Peter 1:4: “Whereby are given unto us, exceeding great and precious promises. . . . ” A promise is defined as an assurance on the part of another of some good for which we become dependent on that person.

This past summer I promised my wife and children that I would put together a sandbox for our backyard. We found a big old tire and hauled it home. We lined the ground underneath it with plastic and filled the thing with play sand. Selah and Shepard love it! They’re both so disappointed when it’s time to go inside. When parents make promises to their little children – the child is expectant, excited and gracious. It’s a precious thing to witness.

In the context of II Peter, the great and precious promises referred to are not for earthly physical things. The promises are for those treasured and eternal possessions that our Heavenly Father bestows; those things that come along with our salvation. No other promises to His children are so precious as the wonderful blessings that accompany the Good News of salvation – The pardon of sin. The power to live a brand new life. The support we receive in and through our trials. And the glorious promises of resurrection and immortality !!!

What would the believer’s world be without these promises from the Father? Will His promises stand? Will He deliver? And will we – like little children promised a sandbox -- be expectant, excited and gracious? Remember: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken to us to the glory of God.” --II Corinthians 1:20

- Pastor Mark

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Family of God

The Family of God. . .

What comes to mind when you think of “family?” Hopefully, thoughts of love and affection come to mind. Our Savior -- in His incarnation -- chose a simple and humble family in which to grow in “wisdom, statue, and favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) But when Christ commenced His ministry, He was indeed building another family: The Family of God. On one occasion during His ministry, Christ’s earthly family came looking for him to speak with Him. Jesus asked the people nearby, “Who is my mother?” and “Who are my brethren?” Jesus then pointed to His disciples and said, “Behold, my mother and my brethren.” What a precedent the Lord laid down for the “Family of God!” Are you apart of that family? (John 1:12 – 13) Hopefully, you are experiencing it here at Crane Community Chapel and finding brothers and sisters in the Lord who share the precious faith, hope, and love that we have in Christ.

In His Family,
The Goossens

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Blueprints . . .

Crane Chapel’s Rebuilding Committee is becoming quite familiar with blueprints. The beauty and design of a blueprint is that it pre-thinks and plans out the details of a building so the end result is a stable building that performs the way it was intended. It would be inadvisable -- even foolish -- to construct a building without the specifications of a blueprint.

In the Word of God we have a blueprint to help us build-up and bless those around us. We are blessed ourselves when we follow the blueprint laid out in God’s Word. Scriptures teach us how to be godly men and women who are the “salt” and flavor in our society for Jesus Christ. It is very precious to God when we have godly attitudes. Our marriages, our homes, our jobs, our churches, and our society are all affected. When we have the right attitude, we are living the kind of lives that God intended.

Our hearts feel the pain and loss suffered by those in the Southern part of our country this last week. When we are tempted to say, “Where is God in this mess?” we need to -- by faith -- take heart in a loving and faithful God who is in control of every detail and can bring order out of chaos. God demonstrated this often throughout His Word. In Romans we read about “goodness and severity.” Both can lead mankind to repentance. We pray for God to increase His family through this tragedy. We also pray for comfort and strength to all those involved in the situation.

We Serve a Faithful and Loving God!
- The Goossens

P.S. David and Nancy Matt were such a blessing to us this last week. We are truly thankful for their ministry to Crane and the way they are allowing God to use them as “salt” in their lives today in Indiana.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

How God Opens Doors...

How God Opens Doors. . .
And Leads us in Paths of Righteousness

In July, God opened the door for us to serve Crane Chapel and I have so enjoyed these past several weeks of getting to know you as your Interim Pastor. Most of you, however, have an advantage at this point since I’m up front on Sundays doing all the talking. Unless I’ve had the opportunity to visit with you one-on-one, you know more about me than I know about you. Please come up and talk to me after the service about things that interest you. That will help me get a sense of you. I am interested in your family and its unique stories, paths, and drama.

My path to you is its own unique story and it is only in hindsight that I undoubtedly see that God’s hand has been moving and opening doors of ministry my entire life. I was born in Mountain Lake, Minnesota and my dad moved our family north to the Iron Range when I was just a baby. I spent my childhood in the Aurora/Hoyt Lakes area of northern Minnesota. My parents were saved when I was only seven-years-old so I was able to witness firsthand the work of an Almighty God in the cynical and hardened hearts of my own parents. Today, my father is with the Lord and my mother carries on her own unique ministry to the women of her church in Campbellsville, KY.

I attended Pillsbury Baptist College in Owatonna, MN. This is where I first felt the call of God to preach. I went on to seminary, earning both a Master of Theology and Master of Divinity degree. Then God directed my path West. My father took a job with Exxon and I followed the family to Wyoming where I took my first pastorate in Douglas. The Lord then led me to California where I served as the Senior Pastor at a church in Jackson for about six years. In the years since, I’ve gained precious experience from the pastorate, from filling numerous pulpits, serving in interim positions, and serving in various church ministries.

God gives us each an individual mission field. These mission fields represent a vast range of environments. As many of you know, the focus of my ministry since 1991 has been the factory floor at Hormel. I find it incredible how God opens doors to further His work. Last Spring, I begin to feel a burden to enlarge my ministry – specifically as an Interim Pastor – wherever needed. We began praying and within weeks, God opened a door! We went through it. Now, we wait on the Lord for His direction for our future. It is truly remarkable that the congregation God has called us to serve has such a rich history with Hormel Foods.

Although I’ve not publicly introduced my family, you’ve already heard much about them in my preaching. I do – like most preachers - use illustrations from my own life in my sermons. What many of you do not know is that my wife Esthermay and I are still (yes - at our age) “Newlyweds.” God wove our separate and unique paths together in December 2001 and we were married six months later.

My wife Esthermay (Bentley) brings her own unique story along with some beautiful assets to our marriage. She is the organized one with the gift of administration and discernment. She keeps me organized, prepared, and well dressed. Esthermay is a native of Indiana, but did graduate from Austin High School. Some of you may remember her father who managed the Social Security Office here in Austin in the 1980’s. His career kept the family moving across the Midwest. Esthermay is a graduate of Northwestern Bible College in St. Paul, MN and Indiana University-Indianapolis. She also attended Anderson University in Anderson, IN. Her path has given her a mixture of ministry experiences from counseling to political activism to music performance. Before becoming a full-time-stay-at-home-mom and wife, Esthermay combined her law degree and counseling degree when she held the position of Victim/Witness Coordinator in the Mower County Attorney’s Office.

We have two delightful and precious children: Selah and Shepard. Selah just turned two and Shepard will soon mark his First Birthday. Our children are truly God’s gift to us considering that Esthermay learned years ago that she would be unable to bear children. But. . . here they are! They have blessed us and it is our heart’s desire to raise them in a godly home with Biblical values.

My prayer today, as I reflect on my time as your Interim Pastor, is that I can continue to provide the preaching, pastoral care, and spiritual leadership needed so that the church leaders are relieved of any anxiety in this area. Their focus is – as it should be -- on the future of Crane Chapel. I am only a servant and a guest in your pulpit for the time.

I don’t have office hours – you’ll find me on the factory floor “preaching” in my hard-hat. But please feel free to contact us. Our phone number is 582-3199 or (cell) 440-3282. E-mail is Feel free to call, drop by, or drop us a line. We are here at Crane Chapel for a season and a reason:
We are here as your servants. . . .

-- Pastor Mark Goossen