Think About It... From Pastor Mark
During this COVID-19 quarantine, several people have told me how bored they are. With the social distancing, isolation and self-quarantining, they say it is hard to find things to do. Well, I have a suggestion and it's not more TV!
Actually, most of us are watching too much television to deal with the boredom. According to A.C. Nielsen, the average American watches over 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube. Think about it - How many more mindless reality shows do you need to see? How many more arguments about politics do you need to watch? How many "Law and Orders" or "Chicago PDs" do you need to view before your mind turns to mush?
Reading is a vital activity that every serious Christian needs! If you want to know, grow, flourish, and minister for God, you need to add reading to your daily regimen. No one is that smart or gifted. You need the wisdom and experiences of hundreds of people over thousands of years to help you with life, your Christian walk, and your base of knowledge to become the person God wants you to be.
With so many out of work, kids out of school, this shelter-in-place edict, and some free time, I want to talk with you about reading. Here are some reading ideas for you:
Read books to understand the Bible. In 2 Timothy 4, the Apostle Paul is imprisoned in Rome. Here Paul asks Timothy to bring him some specific items. In verse 13, Paul tells Timothy "bring ... my scrolls." The Greek word here is biblion which refers to papyrus and its bark. So, this was inscribed paper for written documents and reference materials. Since Paul studied under the great teacher, Gamaliel, he must have had scrolls and notebooks from the lectures. Paul needed commentaries, dictionaries, lexical aids, theological treatises to study. Paul needed his books and so do you!
Now certainly Paul needed the Scriptures because 2 Timothy 4:13 uses the word "parchments" next. This is the Greek word membrana meaning sheepskins. As a Pharisee, Paul must have had his own copies of the Old Testament because he quoted it so much in his letters. You need the Scriptures to encourage, inspire, warn, and instruct you. But there are some misguided folks who piously will say "all I need is the Bible." They don't understand that extra-biblical sources don't replace the Bible, but that they explain the Bible. You need books to help you understand the Bible!
Whether you have a theological education or not, we need help! You might look at the back page of my sermon outlines on Sundays for commentaries on the Bible books we are studying. You might read some theology like: Introducing Christian Doctrine by Millard Erickson or Bible survey like What the Bible is All About by Henrietta C. Mears.
Read books to deepen your walk with Christ. When you read good books by men and women who walked with God, it is like sitting down for a long conversation with the godliest people of the last two millennia. Imagine things they can teach you!
Read books like: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A' Kempis; The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, Power Through Prayer by E. M. Bounds, Meditation by James Downing, Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Saving Life of Christ by Ian Thomas, What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey, and Abiding in Christ by Andrew Murray. Read Heaven, The Treasure Principal, and If God is Good which are all by Randy Alcorn. Read The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy which are both by A. W. Tozer. Read The Spirit of the Disciplines and Hearing God by Dallas Willard. If you read books like these, you will be able to combat spiritual dryness and keep your soul soft toward God.
Read pulpit greats like Alexander MacClaren, Charles Spurgeon, Clovis Chappel, F. W. Boreham, Joseph Parker, G. Campbell Morgan, and Clarence Macartney to help you grow in your faith. Some young pastors are writing some terrific books now: Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt (not a blood relative but a brother in Christ) and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.
Read books to learn about other Christians. When I was a teenager, I read To the Golden Shore about Adoniram Judson. Then, I read Through Gates of Splendor about the Ecuador missionaries who were martyred. You will learn about commitment and faith from biographies of great Christians like: C. T. Studd, John and Betty Stamm, Billy Sunday, Martin Luther, William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Fanny Cosby, and many more. I hope to read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas in the near future.
Read books to move out of your comfort zone. Books allow you to fearlessly examine other points of view. Read books to see things from another's perspective. If you are dispensational, read R. C. Sproul and John Piper. If you are a Calvinist, read Norman Geisler and Charles Ryrie. I have even learned from Robert Schuller, Joel Osteen, and Jack Hayford. Like my dad used to say: "eat the fish, spit out the bones." Use that principle as you read.
Read books to understand how the unbelieving world thinks. Read books about and by celebrities, sports figures, and politicians to see what make them tick. I read The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump and It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton. How can we understand the unchurched mind unless we read what they read? How can we refute the world's values if we do not even know how they see things?
Read to read books to entertain you. In the book, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!, Dr. Seuss said: "The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Books are like a magic carpet that take you to places you have never been. Books are like time machines taking you to times past or future. Read The Chronicles of Narnia, clean suspense, and good fiction. Idle minds are the devil's workshop, so keep reading!
Read books to educate you about things you need to know. Somebody said: "Half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb at." When I graduated from high school, a godly man in our church gave me How to Win Friends and Influence People, which has helped me enormously. In a college economics class, the professor had us read The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith which got me reading books on finances, stock market, real estate, and how to provide for my family. When I needed to improve my health, I bought and read Fitness for Dummies. When I needed to lower my blood pressure, I read a book about that. Read books to improve you as a person. Books that have helped me are: Margin by Richard Swenson, Managing Yourself by Stephen Douglass, Happiness Is a Choice by Frank Minirith and Paul Meier, The Man in the Mirror by Patrick Morley, and The Measure of the Man by Gene Getz.
Think about - What are my goals? What do I need to know to achieve them? What would I like to learn? Chances are that somebody wrote a book about that subject and can teach you about it.
Read books to improve your ministry. Someone has said: "Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." If you aspire to lead or teach others, you have to read. If you are a mature Christ-follower, you need books on your area of gifting and ministry. There are all kinds of books on children's ministry, teaching a Bible Study, youth ministry, being a church leader, how churches grow, evangelism and so much more. There are wonderful books on improving your marriage, rearing your kids, and being a good grandparent.
Read books to defend your faith. We need to know how to earnestly contend for the faith. So, read books like The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin, Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, and books by Lee Strobel like The Case for Christ. I still read and re-read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis because it helps me simplify what it means to be a Christian and explain faith to unbelievers.
Read books to be an example to others. If you want your kids and your grandchildren to think and grow, you have to show them. If they see you reading and growing, they will follow your lead. If you want your family to succeed in life and faith, they need to catch the bug of reading! So, show them by your example by reading!
Read books to learn empathy. Learn about conquering adversity from Helen Keller. Learn about dealing with evil from Anne Frank and Corrie Ten Boom. Learn about poverty from The Grapes of Wrath. Learn about fear from The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. Read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens for a perspective on life and hard times. Read the classics and you'll learn about life.
Read books to become wise. Someone once said: "Those who do not learn from the past, live to repeat it." So, read church history, world history, and American history. If you learn from others, you don't have to pay the costly prices of mistakes.
Where do you find the time to read? Groucho Marx once said: "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." Good advice! I read on the treadmill at the gym, in the airport, on a plane flight, and when I am alone in a restaurant. I read while waiting for the doctor, the dentist, and for my car being repaired. I read on my vacations and my days off. I read before I turn out the light at bedtime. I read if I have insomnia. I read whenever I can!
Where do you get books? Personally, I have carried a Kindle from Amazon. Since I have traveled a lot, I can't carry a suitcase full of books. But in my Kindle, I get my daily newspaper and carry about 20 books with me in a small notebook. The idea of getting books cheaper on Kindle appeals to the Swedish in me! There are some good Christian bookstores around here too. There is also Christian Book Distributors ( www.christianbook.com) which has a cornucopia of great books for good prices that you can order and have mailed to you. The same can be said for the phone app Audible. There you can listen to a wide variety of books ( www.audible.com).
Folks, this crazy time is a great time to start reading. And summer is coming too. When it is too hot to close the windows, read a book. When the sun is up before 6 AM, read a book. When are you are relaxing in the patio, read a book. When you are on BART, read a book. When it is raining, read a book! Read! Read! Read! When you start reading, you will find your heart, mind, and soul expanded. God will bless you when you read.
Well, thanks for reading my letter this week! I am praying for you, for your health, for your family, for your finances, and for our church! I can't wait to see what great things God does through these momentary struggles. We will get through this with God's help! Keep lookin' up!

I love being your pastor!
Pastor Mark Platt
Subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Instagram and Facebook
to get more encouraging music, content and updates!
You can also find these buttons on our website home page.
This Sunday's Message
This Sunday, we will continue our series called "How to Handle Trouble." We will look at how using God's past faithfulness to remind us of God's future faithfulness to help us through present trouble. You will learn practical tools that you can use from Pastor Mark's message titled "Remember God's Faithfulness."
Join us this Sunday after 9 AM. Go to our EHCC website, www.easthillscc.org. On the first page of our website will be links to YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and our own Truthcasting. On our website and Truthcasting, you can download the sermon outline. We'll do our best to inform you and inspire you as we travel through these interesting times!  
What's Next!
Support God's Work at EHCC
Our giving is down about 15%. But thankfully, we were able to pay most of our bills. But we depend on your regular and sacrificial financial support of God's work. We still have staff obligations to meet and have utilities and other bills to pay. We also have missionary support to send. We want to expand our "on-line" presence during this time and that requires money. Please intensify your financial support of East Hills during this time. Thank you to all who have given and continue to support the ministry of East Hills Community Church.

There are 4 ways to give:
Option 1: Mail checks to East Hills at 12000 Campus Drive, Oakland, CA 94519
Option 2: Text "Give" to 510-800-7175
Option 4: Set up online banking with your bank and list East Hills as a payee
Get Sunday Sermons in Your Mailbox
If you are unable to watch our online service, you can receive a transcript of Pastor Mark's message by US Post Office Mail. E-mail Pastor Jonathan here with your name and address and we will send it to you. (You might consider helping EHCC with gift to cover the postage.) Or, call 510.531.7100 and let us know.
Submit Your Prayer Requests on our Website
"Need Prayer"

As we weather this storm together, we are trying to keep the lines of communication open, especially for prayer. If you have a prayer need, please click the button and submit your prayer. We have a dedicated team who will pray for your request. Prayers can be marked "confidential" for Pastor Mark. If not marked, the information will go to the prayer team.
Corporate Prayer
Join us in prayer each night at 7 PM. This is not on-line or formal. Just find a quiet place in your home to pray. You can ask your spouse and/or your family members to join you in prayer too.
Please pray for seven specific things:
1. Pray for protection and for containment of the Coronavirus.
2. Pray for wisdom for our leaders as they deal with the virus.
3. Pray for God's protection and guidance for our medical professionals as they treat those affected.
4. Pray for those whose businesses, jobs, and incomes are affected.
5. Pray for those who are the most vulnerable to the attack of this virus.
6. Pray that God will use this time to bring our nation to repent, trust Christ, and bring spiritual change to our prodigal nation.
7. Pray for the ministry of East Hills with our online Sunday service, our devotionals on Facebook, our phone conversations, our witness in our neighborhoods, and with each other.
Click to play last weeks message.
Renew Your Mind
Renew Your Mind
Just The Facts:

Test your knowledge of the New Testament.

1) How many books are there in the New Testament?

2) What are the names of the Gospels--the first four books of the New Testament?

3) What is the last book of the New Testament?

4) What is the longest book of the New Testament?

5) What is the shortest book of the New Testament?  
Current Sermon Series
New Sermon Series
Right now, some people think they are in real trouble. This virus has hit jobs, businesses, finances, and so much more. Some people are in a panic so there are shortages, school closures, and health emergencies. Many have worries and even fear.
How do we handle real trouble? For 10 weeks, Pastor Mark is giving a series of messages from the Bible called "How to Handle Real Trouble." Each Sunday, we are posting a new video sermon at www.easthillscc.org. We want to inform you, encourage you, and give you God's help for the time you are in real trouble. Join us!

7. May 3 - Philippians 4:6-7 - "Reach Out to God in Prayer"
8. May 10 - Lamentations 3:22-23 - "Remember God's Faithfulness"
9. May 17 - Philippians 3:13-14 - "Rely on God"
10. May 24 - Psalm 46:1 - "Reboot to a New Life"
In The Bible (Reading Plan)

Weekly Through the Bible Readings
Join us as we read through the Bible in 2020:  
April 26-May 2          2 Samuel 15-24; Luke 22-24
May 3-9                    1 Kings; John 1-3
May 10-16                2 Kings; John 4-7
May 17-23                1 Chronicles 1-15; John 8-10
May 24-30                1 Chronicles 16-29; John 11-14
May 31- June 6        2 Chronicles 1-18; John 15-18
June 7-13                 2 Chronicles 19-36; John 19-21
June 14-20               Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther; Acts 1-7
June 21-27               Job 1-21; Acts 8-13
June 28-July 4          Job 22-42; Acts 14-22

Click to download a .PDF of our 2020 Reading Plan
Answers to "Great Questions in the Bible":
1) 27  
2) Mathew, Mark, Luke, John   
3) Revelation   
4) Acts  
5) 3 John 
We Need Your Help
*Tex t "Give" to 510-800-7175*
  View our videos on YouTube 
Like us on Facebook  
  View on Instagram