Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Seven Paths/Choices: Lust – Oh Yeah! Oh No!

Sun, Feb 16: New Message Series: Seven Paths/Choices: Seven Paths/Choices Leading to Darkness, Seven Paths/Choices Leading to Light. This week’s message is: 

Seven Paths/Choices: Lust – Oh Yeah! Oh No!1 Cor 6, Matt 5, Gal 5, Rom 6, 1 Thess 4

We’ve turned the first page in our series of 7 Pathways that Lead to Darkness and Light by looking deeper into the classic 7 Deadly Sins.  One author that I have been reading as a resource for this series calls these things: Glittering Vices.  That’s a good description of these pathways that promise a better life – Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth, Anger, and Greed.  

The good news is that God points out the path toward a better life, a happy and fulfilling life in His Word.  And Jesus teaches the path toward joy and gratitude, an abundant life –  not only teaches it, demonstrates it, lives it. For example, humility is given as a better path than pride.  In the same way, hastity and faithfulness are better paths than lust.  

Lust in relationships leads us away from relationship connection.  Lust produces casualties and makes our society more crass and less beautiful.  Lust masquerades as promise, yet ends in sorrow.  Lust distorts what is good, exchanging love for a lie.  

When it comes to love, God’s gaze on us is one of love.  God desires what is best for us and teaches us and shows us a better path.  When it comes to lust, we need greater accountability and community.  

Let’s dive into this one Sunday.  Will be referencing various texts 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Matthew 5:27-28, Galatians 5:16-25, Romans 6:11-14, Romans 12:1-2, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.  

See you Sunday!  Ash Wednesday service will be at 6:00pm, Wednesday February 26th.

Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Seven Paths/Choices: Pride – The Bigger it is the Harder We Fall

Sun, Feb 16: New Message Series: Seven Paths/Choices: Seven Paths/Choices Leading to Darkness, Seven Paths/Choices Leading to Light. This week’s message is: 

Seven Paths/Choices: Pride – The Bigger it is the Harder We Fall
Daniel 4:10-17, 29-37


The journey through the paths/choices that lead to darkness/light begins with the king/queen of all vices: PRIDE.  Pride has much to do with what the Bible calls ‘vain glory.’  Pride develops out of our excessive focus on self with everything from appearance, attention, and approval.  As with all of these deadly paths/choices, God provides a way out and forward.  The path of light that corresponds with the path of pride is HUMILITY.  

I like the analogy of a ladder to describe how pride works.  With each step upward when climbing a ladder the vantage point changes.  The higher we go, the smaller things at the base appear.  The higher we go the steeper the angle we look down on those things on the ground.  Remember the old adage, ‘the bigger they are the harder they fall.’  Here is how it applies to pride, ‘the bigger it is, the harder we fall.’  The ladder is again, a good analogy for pride, ‘the higher we climb (pride), the harder we fall.’     

Pride makes work of comparisons, leading us to speak and think of others as ‘less than’ while at the same time elevating ourselves to ‘more than.’  Pride erodes the foundation of friendship and community.  What is the path to keep our pride in check?  Humility.  I invite you to explore definitions of humility this week.  How would you define its essence?    

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus begins his ministry by inviting us to follow him.  From the beginning Jesus laid out the path/choices toward light.  Our text for Sunday is a story from Daniel 4:10-17, 29-37 about a King called Nebuchadnezzar.  Quite a story.  

Read up and get ready, we are on a journey of conviction and delight.  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Pursuit of Pleasure

Feb 8: Mark Begins a New Message Series: Seven Paths to Darkness. This week’s message is: 
The Pursuit of PleasureEcclesiastes 2:1-11
Time for a change – five weeks of Baptism related messages has been good and satisfying – now, on to Seven Paths/Choices that Lead to Darkness.  That sounds ominous, even scary!  

Before you decide to skip out on church for the next 8 weeks, consider how much of the Bible references just this series of topics.  Traditionally, these ‘paths’ have been described by the following realities: Pride, Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth, and Anger (The Seven Deadly Sins). Wisdom literature in the Old Testament writings, Jesus teachings in the Gospels, and every one of the Letters written to the early church is packed with guidance, teaching, and references to these seven paths/choices.  

Do not fear!  We will be juxtaposing these seven paths/choices that lead to darkness with seven overcoming paths/choices that lead to light.  We will begin this 8 week series with a message from the heart of wisdom literature in Scripture, Ecclesiastes 2:1-11.  The Pursuit of Pleasure in on the schedule for Sunday.  In reading the passage for Sunday ask yourself what paths/choices the writer makes in his pursuit of pleasure.  What does he say about them?  How does he approach engagement in these paths/choices?  Where do these paths/choices lead him?  

Good stuff!  Can’t go wrong with the Bible – great material to work with!  Think its because its Holy Spirit inspired or something like that, :). 

Chili dinner at church on Saturday at 5:00pm. Community movie to follow: Disneys Penguins!

Pastor Mark          

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Baptism: A Community Gathered Around Christ

Jan 5 Mark Began a New Message Series: Baptism. This week’s message is: 

Baptism: A Community Gathered Around Christ
Ephesians 4:1-16

It’s time to transition! From what to what?  Maybe a better way to say it is we are continuing to journey towards maturity.  That’s right, it’s time to grow up!  Our text from Sunday comes from Ephesians chapter 4 and 5.  The great teacher and follower of Christ, Paul, encourages us to grow from infancy to maturity.  An infant in faith is one who is ‘blown and tossed about by the waves of cunning and crafty teachings and deceitful scheming.” (Eph 4:14). Instead, Paul encourages us to grow up in God’s ways of love. (Eph 5:1-2).  
To grow up in God’s ways of love is to engage in a lifestyle of love.  When the rubber hits the road in relationships with situations of conflict or hurt, and bitterness and unforgiveness begin to take root, and the temptation is there to walk away from relationship – that is when Paul especially calls us to grow up.  “Be imitators of God.”  (Eph 5:1)  How?  “…just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, walk in the way of love as dearly loved children of God.”  

The message Sunday will focus on what it means to be a part of a Christian community.  As we wrap up this 5 week series on Baptism, another truth about Baptism shines: We belong to community of faith gathered around Christ, called to grow from infancy to maturity in our faith – especially when things become difficult.  Especially then.  

The Peace of God be with you,
Pastor Mark   

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

In Him, For Him, It's All About Him

Jan 5 Mark Began a New Message Series: Baptism. This week’s message is: 

Baptism: In Him, For Him, It’s All About Him
Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 42:6, Jeremiah 31:31

The Bible is an unbelievable gift.  I’ve returned recently to a devotional practice that has resonated with me in the past.  It involves opening with a prayer, followed by a reading from Scripture and some engagement with someone else’s reflection on a particular passage or theme, ending with a journal entry.  This past week the focus was on Psalm 128 – A Psalm of wisdom and blessing.  “Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him… blessing and prosperity will be yours… your wife (spouse) will be like a fruitful vine, your children like olive shoots… may you live to see your children’s children.”  

This passage is giving me so much joy.  It certainly eludes to marriage and children yet the theme is much broader than that.  The theme speaks about the Shalom that God brings when we fear the Lord and walk in obedience to his ways.  This is a universal truth of God about his character and actions with his world and his people.     

We have been on a message journey on Baptism since the New Year began.  Last week I spoke a phrase like this, ‘The Sacrament of Baptism is best understood (can only be understood) in the context of God’s story.’  After prepping this week for Sunday’s message, confirmation of this phrase could not be more true.  

For Sunday, we will make a sweeping look at the Covenantal Love of God through the Old Testament covenants and find their fulfilment in Jesus.  Again, the ‘Sacrament of Baptism is best understood (can only be understood) in the context of God’s story.’  

In preparation for Sunday read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  (Pause)… Well… I don’t think you or I will be able to do that… but I’ll show up if you will show up and we will worship God together.  Sunday’s message will touch on the core purpose and truth of God’s Covenantal Love through the covenant God made with the world at creation and with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and ultimately, through Jesus.  See you at ‘the view’, Crestview that is, where we gather to hear from God!

Shalom,

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Baptism: A Sacrament, A Sign, A Seal

Jan 5 Mark Began a New Message Series: Baptism. This week’s message is: Baptism:

A Sacrament, A Sign, A Seal 
Genesis 17, Jeremiah 31, Matthew 28

This coming Sunday we will celebrate communion together.  God is continually calling a people to himself out of all the people of the world – giving them identity and purpose – bringing them from death to life.  God is at work in his world calling all things under his rule.  These statements may seem strong, but all together true.  

Over the past two weeks we have looked at the epic stories in the Bible of the Flood and the Crossing of the Red Sea.  Both stories speak powerful truth about God’s redemptive purposes for the world and for the calling of humanity to his created purposes.  Over the past two weeks we have made parallels from these stories to the sacrament of Baptism.  

This week we will explore the sacrament of Baptism from a pointed, scriptural and theological perspective.  I hope to bring a message about Baptism that reveals its beautiful, mysterious wonder.  Baptism is referred to in our liturgical practices of this sacrament as being ‘a sign and a seal.’  

What is Baptism a sign of?  Much like a road sign, what does it point to?  In what way is Baptism a seal?  These questions and more for Sunday.  Our texts for Sunday are: Genesis 17:1-11, 23-27; Jeremiah 31:31-34; and Matthew 28:16-20.  Read these before Sunday and you are ahead of the curve :).

In Jesus name,
Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Red Sea – Death to Life

Jan 5 Mark Began a New Message Series: Baptism. 

Baptism: The Red Sea – Death to Life
Ex 14:13-14

 Wow!  This past week’s worship and message was a great experience for me.  Last week we looked at the story of The Flood in Genesis 6-9 and tied it to our identity in Jesus, specifically through the sacrament of Baptism.  This week, we take a look at probably the most important event in the history of God’s people in God’s shaping and identifying of his people – the Exodus (specifically, the crossing of the Read Sea.). 

Our story this week comes from the Book of Exodus, chapters 13-14.  This is a story of Death to Life, and also has powerful thematic overtones for our understanding of the most important event in the shaping of the history of the world – Jesus death and resurrection.

In preparation for Sunday, read Exodus chapter 13-14.  And if you are really ambitious, read chapters 1-14 of Exodus.  Answer this question, “Why did God lead his people to this difficult place in front of the Red Sea?”  There are at least 8 reasons in the text for why God led his people to this place.  Awesome answers… :).      

Can’t wait til Sunday – it’s a comin’, and I welcome it.  See you at the church!

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Baptism: The Water of Judgement – The Flood

This Sunday, Jan 5 Mark Begins a New Message Series: Baptism, with the message

Baptism: The Water of Judgement – The Flood
Gen 6-9

Crestview Family,

2020 is here!  When it comes to resolutions – start with receptivity!  When we begin with receptivity to God as our starting point and consistent daily point of reference everything else we desire out of life will fall into place.  This past Sunday we looked at the key to this: Remember!  Remember God’s commands,deliverance, blessing, and testing.  And all that’s left to do is respond to God accordingly.  

Beginning Sunday we kick off 2020 will a five week series on Baptism.  We begin with the epic story of the flood.  Read Genesis chapters 6-9 for Sunday and you will be ahead of the game in remembering God’s commands, deliverance, blessing and testing :).  

Big question for Sunday: How are we to understand the flood: a sending of judgment or redemption?  How could the story of the flood be a motif for understanding Baptism?  

See you Sunday, and God bless you in the new year – Shalom!
Pastor Mark   

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

A Cause To Live For

Crestview family, this Sunday is our 4th weekend of Advent anticipation – already it’s here!  And then we will celebrate with a Christmas Eve worship service, Tuesday, December 24th, at 5:00pm.  The past three weeks we have been exploring the expanding or diminishing of joy, gratitude, love and peace through the often dueling realities of the Call of Christ and the Cry of our Culture.  We have explored Jesus invitation to ‘Come and Worship’ with John 10:10.  We have engaged the call of Christ to ‘Choose What is Better…’ with the story of Mary and Martha.  We have been challenged by the call to ‘Generosity through Proximity’ with the Parables of the Sheep and the Goats and the Good Samaritan.  

This Sunday, December 22nd, we will be challenged by the words of Paul in Acts 20:24, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”  The message is entitled, A Cause to Live For.  I will leave you in anticipation of this weeks Advent message with a quote from John Piper, “What every one of us needs is a cause to live for that agrees with the purposes of our Creator.”  With that I will make this claim: everything we need to know about our purpose for being given life, and for living, is summed up in this verse from the Apostle Paul.  If you want to understand the purpose of your existence, and therefore the purpose of your life, come Sunday. 

Come and Worship,
Pastor Mark      

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Advent Week 3: Spend More/ Spend Less

Sunday December 15th, Advent week #3: The Conspiracy of Generosity.  There is a beautiful story in the Bible about ‘seeing.’  When Hagar, an Egyptian servant of Sarah’s, is pregnant by Abraham to begin to build a family through Abraham – all of this sanctioned by Sarah who has been unable to bear children with Abraham.  Sarah begins to mistreat Hagar after she becomes pregnant with Abraham.  It gets so bad that Hagar flees.  And while in the desert, an angel appears to Hagar and reassures her of the Lord’s blessing to her and through her child Ishmael, which means, “God hears.”  And Hagar responds by giving the Lord the name, ‘The God who sees me.”  And then names the well of this place, ‘Beer Lahai Roi’ which means, ‘well of the Living One who sees me.’  And then, crazy as it is, after Sarah does become miraculously pregnant with Abraham and she gives birth to Isaac, Sarah, now that she has her own family, tells Abraham to send her away.  So they sent Hagar and Ishmael away from them into the desert – really banishing them from the Abraham clan to fend for themselves.  And Hagar, soon is without food and water in the desert.  She places Ishmael under a bush in the shade, wanders off about a bowshot away and says to herself, “I cannot watch the boy die.”  Can’t imagine – and then God shows up, “Don’t be afraid.  God has heard the boy crying.  Lift up the boy, take him by the hand.’  When she opened her eyes, there was a well of water.  Again, God sees and engages. God calls on us to ‘see and engage.’      
 For two weeks we have been challenged by God’s word to consider our anxiety, our worry… our preoccupations… our self focus… or hyper other focus (what others are doing or not doing)… our busyness… could it be, that all of these things are keeping us from seeing our neighbor in need?  And once we actually ‘see’ our neighbor, keeps us from engaging?  
We will tackle two parables on Sunday – The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)and the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46).  Both of them are calls of Christ to ‘see’ the needs of others and respond with generosity.  Looking forward – we will celebrate communion together Sunday!  And enjoy a church-wide fellowship feast after the service.  Bring food to share!  Unto us a Gift of God’s generosity has been given.

Pastor Mark