Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

 Laodicea: Choose: Either Hot or Cold

Nine weeks ago we began this journey together into the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation.  And this week we find ourselves with the words of Jesus to the church of Laodicea.  

Once again Jesus uses the context of the church by integrating his specific revelation of himself, the fitting ‘word’ that is needed for them, even incorporating the geography of the area to call them to a deeper relationship with Him. 
The church had become ‘lukewarm’.  They had become tepid.  The region was known for its geologic springs that bubbled out of the ground.  Yet, it was neither hot nor cold.  So in a way, it was average – not hot enough to be used medicinally like hot springs, not cold enough to be of any refreshment.  Looks like the church took on the characteristics of the surrounding landscape.  God was calling them to be either one or the other, either hot or cold. 

  This is metaphorically fascinating in many ways.  We, like the church of Laodicea, have a tendency, like any church of any time in any place, to take on the characteristics of the culture around us.  Sometimes, this can be a positive thing to be culturally relevant and helps us connect well with the people around us.  Sometimes, this can be a negative thing in that our set apart witness for Jesus becomes compromised.    

How do we remain either hot or cold in our walk with God to remain vibrant?  How do we keep our ‘saltiness’ and let our ‘light shine’?  How do we keep our devotional character and our set apart status in Christ while being fully engaged with the culture around us?  

Sounds like a sermon waiting to happen.  See you Sunday,

Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Philadelphia: Little Strength? Hold On!

What an encouraging letter!  The letter to the church of Philadelphia is packed with encouragement – not a negative word in it!  Fitting, since Philadelphia means the city of ‘brotherly (adelphos) love (philia).’  
But not all was well at the church.  They were being ‘hassled’ by the zealous temple leaders to the point of mistreatment.  The leaders believed they were the ones who held the ‘keys to the Kingdom.’  Jesus encourages them to hang in there!  And assures them that he is the one who holds the ‘keys of David.’ And ‘what he has opened – no one can shut!’  

For a city that is prone to earthquakes where people are scared to live within the city walls, much less city dwellings for fear of an earthquake, Jesus assures them of security, stability and permanence in the City of God. 

Jesus also promises that three things will be written on them and their clothes in the new Kingdom – a new name, the name of God’s city, and the name of Jesus.  Can’t wait for this day to come – it will be my first tattoo!!!

Seriously, we will go deeper into the text and context and look for God to open up our hearts and minds to his word for us.  Peace!  A literal good word is coming to us on Sunday from Philadelphia!

Pastor Mark

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Sardis: Wake Up! The Comatose Congregation

Church #5 of 7: Sardis.  Sardis – a city of wealth and fame.  Things were easy for the people of Sardis – the cost of living was high, but the people of Sardis could afford it – living the life of luxury.  The church of Sardis gets the hardest message to digest of all of them.  No kudos.  They had become sleepy/comatose.  Jesus even calls them ‘dead.’  

There is hope for them that will require ‘waking up!’  What caused their comatose situation?  How did they lose their spiritual fire and fervor?  As a follower of Christ, I am aware of the ups and downs of spiritual fervor.  We will explore some possible reasons why the church had been lulled to sleep… the forces at work are not always from outside, they may have actively taken the ‘sleeping pills’ that led to their situation.

Again, not all is lost.  Jesus words are meant to call them (us) back through remembering, repentance, and strengthening in a return to lively engagement in promoting God’s message and mission.

See you Sunday (Don’t forget we have Trunk or Treat this coming Saturday from 5-7pm at church.  

Be salty and shine!

Pastor Mark  

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Thyatira: A Deep Secret… Really?

This Sunday is a fun morning at Crestview Church – Worship at 9:30am, followed by a church wide Care Group time of connection at 10:30am, followed by a church wide brunch/lunch of fellowship.  Bring a dish to pass/share – a salad, a casserole, a crock pot something, a dessert, something to add to the feast.  If you are feeling frisky, bring two items to share :).  

The message for Sunday is the over-the-hump message of our series in Revelation as we tackle church #4: Thyatira.  Thyatira was a military outpost that protected the capital city of the region, Pergamum.  It also had several flourishing trade guilds.  The difficulty for followers of Jesus in Thyatira had to do with the trade guilds.  Membership to be included in a trade guild involved engagement in pagan worship practices.  

Think of the difficulty.  Imagine you are a potter or a tanner.  All your business connections are with people who engage in parties (worship practices) where things happen there that are against God’s call on your life to be ‘set apart’ and to give glory to God in your living practices.  If your faith in God keeps you from engaging in these events and social gatherings, over time, you are excluded and your business ties dry up.  Actually, it gets much worse than this – after a while you become a target for vandalism, ridicule, and scorn.  And this kind of thing carries over to your family and your children.  This is the kind of scenario the followers of Jesus faced in Thyatira: Economic hardship and social isolation.  What would you do?  Are there similarities in what you may face at work or school or in your neighborhood when it comes to your witness for Jesus?
There was one more thing that was going on in Thyatira – an enticement to seek some ‘secret knowledge.’  This is a powerful ploy of Satan throughout history: If you engage in this or that you will gain some ‘secret knowledge.’  Sounds like the kind of thing that got Adam and Eve in trouble in the first place… 

Text for Sunday is Revelation 2:18-29.  Looking forward to Sunday: Worship, Communion, Care Group Connection, and a Fellowship Feast!  Be there or be square!

Pastor Mark  

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Pergamum: No Compromise

Two down and five to go!  The letters and messages of Jesus to the seven churches mentioned in Revelation chapters two and three are for the church of all ages – that includes us Crestview!  Brothers and Sisters in Jesus, who have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, set free from the penalty and power of sin, called to be ‘salt and light’ in a broken world, agents of renewal and communicators of hope, armed with the Gospel of grace and truth – stand firm in the faith you have been given.  

Our world is destined for renewal and complete redemption.  And our great God is calling us to join him in this great work of his.  That in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s power, we are destined to overcome.  Victory over death and hell are already guaranteed and certain.  We need only follow our Lord and King Jesus faithfully, with endurance and perseverance, wholeheartedly and in humility, finding our hope and strength in Jesus.  

The message to the Ephesian believers (to us!) is this: Continue to pursue truth and ‘right-ness’ in all things and in speaking truth, always remember to accompany truth with love for one another.  

The message to the believers in Smyrna (to us!) is this: In the midst of any challenge to faith in Jesus, hold firmly to the hope of the resurrection! 

And this week, the message to the believers in Pergamum (to us!) is this: Beware of compromise!  Romans 12 reads,  ‘Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you will be able to discern God’s good, pleasing, and acceptable will for your life.’             
The culture around us seeks to shape us into its images… Jesus confronts the subtle temptation to mesh the ‘un-meshable’ ideas, philosophies, and behaviors of the popular culture with the holiness and holy life that God calls us to in ‘being’ and ‘living.’  

Over the next few weeks, the letters ramp up the challenges to be and live lives that are distinctive and set apart from the philosophies and religions of the popular culture.  Read Revelation 2:12-17 in preparation for Sunday’s message.  You may find it leads you to Numbers 22-25… 

Ready to dive in – see you Sunday,

Pastor Mark   

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Smyrna: Hope in the Resurrection

This week is a Special Sunday as we celebrate the Profession of Faith and Baptism of Ashish Huffaker and Jeff Hoots.  We begin with a festive time of Worship (Recalibrating our hearts), followed by Going Deeper (cultivating wholehearted devotion in education time), and then we head off to Baseline reservoir for Baptism followed by a lunch feast hosted at the Huffaker home!  You are invited to come and celebrate with us!

Sunday’s message will dive into the message of Jesus to the church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11).  Well ‘myrna Smyrna’… what’s the big deal?  Jesus’ message to Smyrna is one of resurrection power, hope, and transformation.  This church is being oppressed from all sides and Jesus message to them is ‘find hope in the resurrection.’ 

This hope is not only for the future (‘pie in the sky when we die’) but has real implications for the present.  Hope in the resurrection is pulling the full and complete future reality of resurrection into the present, the here and now.  

This gets practical real fast.  Come and check it out: Testimonies of faith, Baptisms, vigorous discussion about things that matter, a feast of food – what’s not to love?

See you soon,
Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Ephesus: Do not Forsake Your 1st Love! (Love for one another)

We are entering into a very cool and challenging section of the Book of Revelation, Jesus message to the church.  The seven messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) have specific impact for the churches of that time and space.  And yes, because the Book of Revelation is God’s Word to God’s people these messages also have impact for our church today.  

Here is what lies ahead for us in the messages to each of the churches: 

  • Sept 29: EphesusDo not forsake your 1st love! (Love for one another)
  • Oct 6: SmyrnaBe Faithful – find hope in the resurrection!   
  • Oct 13: PergamumNO COMPROMISE!
  • Oct 20: ThyatiraA Deep Secret?  Oh please… 
  • Oct 27: SardisWake Up! The Comatose Congregation…  
  • Nov 3: PhiladelphiaLittle Strength?  Hold On!
  • Nov 10: Laodicea: Lukewarm?  Time to choose – either Hot or Cold.

This Sunday we dive into the church of Ephesus. There is a whole book of the Bible written to the Ephesians by the Apostle Paul.  Many years later, after Paul’s death, John may have taken on the mantle of becoming the ‘spiritual father’ of the Ephesian church.  The message of Jesus in Revelation for John to communicate to the church in Ephesus is this: Remember and return to your first love!   There is a strong message of needed repentance.  

At first reading, it would seem that the message is about their returning to their first love, meaning, love for God.  Yet, what is most likely being communicated is not love for God (as the first love), rather, love for one another.  Something has been lost in their practice of loving one another well.  

In context, it seems that their zeal for weeding out heresy has negatively affected their love for one another.  This is a very real dilemma for the church of all ages.  How do we maintain a strong commitment to Biblical truth and yet, maintain strong love for one another?  

The message from our risen Savior to the Ephesian church has powerful implications for our lives today.  Read the passage in preparation for Sunday: Revelation 2:1-7.  Can’t wait for church – see you there!

In Jesus name,
Pastor Mark

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Easy to Do Church and Have No Idea Who We are Dealing With

Well, we have kicked off our fall schedule of education and small groups and we have ‘opened the seal!’  Our first week of Revelation is ‘in the books’ and we are moving forward.  This week, John attempts to describe what he sees in his vision.  In Revelation 1:9-20, John attempts to describe what he sees.  He describes Jesus in vivid and extravagant and in some ways, other worldly ways.  Yet, this revelation of Jesus by John is filled with deep and powerful truth about who Jesus is.  It’s glorious and awesome.  So much so, that John upon seeing this vision can’t help but fall on his face, hiding his face.  

These are some of John’s descriptions – “wearing a robe and golden sash, hair white as wool, eyes blazing like fire, feet of glowing bronze, voice like mighty waters, a double edged sword coming out of his mouth, holding seven stars in his right hand, and his face shining like the sun…” What does any of his mean?  

We will be diving into the rest of God’s word in Sunday’s message to find some clues to that question.  On Sunday I said something like this, “There is nothing new revealed in Revelation.”  I also quoted Eugene Peterson saying,  “I do not read Revelation to get additional information about the life of faith in Christ.  I have read it all before in law and prophet, in gospel and the early church letters.  The Revelation adds nothing of substance to what we already know.  The truth of the gospel is already complete, revealed in Jesus Christ.”                  

As true as these statements may be, I am thankful for this written vision of John.  Why?  This vision describes the current reality of Jesus resurrected and glorious.  And the descriptions of him have significant implications for my life in the here and now.  

Check it out – Sunday is coming,
Pastor Mark


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The Beginning and the End

YES!  Its September!  You can feel the coolness of the evening as the sun sets.  You can sense the leaves beginning to curl and become crispy as the winds begin to change.  Even the rivers and streams are beginning to thin, some to a trickle, as snow melt lessens and the mountains embrace for fresh snow pack.  I love Colorado.    

Change is a part of God’s creation.  Evidenced in the seasons and life cycles of every living being.  Our next sermon series  based on Revelation chapters 1-3, The Beginning and the End, describes in a significant way, the changes that the early church was experiencing.  The early church after Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension experienced an uncomfortable reality: Jesus said he was coming back soon – people were dying of old age, the church was experiencing much persecution, and Jesus had not yet returned.  There were other changes the early church was experiencing: boredom, forgetfulness, waywardness, etc.  The early church was becoming ‘lukewarm’, forgetting its ‘first love’, synchronizing the purity of the Gospel with ‘other’ non-Gospel beliefs.  

John, the writer of Revelation, is in prison, of old age, on the island of Patmos.  It is there that God reveals the message of Revelation to him.  John tries to describe what he sees and hears.  The vision is so glorious he has difficulty describing it.  For two weeks, we will explore the glorious vision of Jesus that John experiences and attempt to attach some meaning to it.  Then we will explore God’s message to the seven churches in Asia minor.  Each message is a message from God to the worldwide church of Jesus Christ.  

Buckle up – this is going to be a fun and challenging fall ride.  Read chapter one of Revelation in prep for Sunday’s message.   What do you think of John’s vision?   

Pastor Mark   


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Fall Kickoff Sunday!

Fall Kickoff Sunday this week September 8th!  (And I’m not referring to American Professional Football.)  Come for Pancakes and Fellowship at 8:45-9:30am and enjoy a worship service on the front lawn at 9:30am.  Invite your friends and neighbors – all are welcome!

This week is a ‘tweener’ in our message series as we transition from the early Psalms (1-51) to the Book of Revelation (Chapters 1-3).  So we are going to have a ‘tweener’ message with a Psalm ‘mash-up.’  

There is a reason why the Psalm book of the Bible is a go too favorite for Bible lovers and casual readers over the centuries – they speak to the human experience.  The Psalms give expression to a dynamic relationship with God.  Sometimes God seems near and other times distant.  Our approach to God can run the full gambit of emotions from deep sorrow to unexplainable joy.  The Psalms got it all.  

I read through the first 51 Psalms yesterday and I’ve prepared a Psalmic ‘mash-up’ for the outdoors Sunday.  Getting ready for a feast on Pancakes and a Psalm sonnet.  Come, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Pastor Mark