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   

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Advent 2019: Time Well Spent: spend More/Spend Less

We might as well call this what it really is – an Advent Conspiracy. The Son of God coming to the world – as a baby!  Becoming human!  What?  God dwelling with us in the flesh?  Why would God do this?  Definitely an Advent Conspiracy!  Conspiracy is the action of plotting or conspiring… God has been plotting out his plan of redemption for the world ever since he created it… but not conspiring to harm, but to bless!  A reverse conspiracy.  

And how he chooses to make his entrance is unbelievable: a little known podunk town of Bethlehem.  Mary giving birth miles and miles away from home in a cave, with an animal feeding trough as a cradle bed… One who is called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace’ chooses to come this way?  This is an Advent Conspiracy

We will explore together another facet of Advent together by looking at the story of Jesus and Mary/Martha from Luke 10:38-42.  Both Mary and Martha are engaged in good things, yet, Jesus blesses one of them as ‘Choosing What is Better.’

We have already cracked the door last week in looking at both the Call of Christ and the Cry of Culture in our daily life by reflecting on each of these influences with the phrase Come and Worship!  This week, we will reflect together on these influences in our lives through the phrase Choosing What is Better!‘  

See you Sunday, engage the Advent Conspiracy,

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Advent 2019: Come and Worship! Worship More/Worship Less

Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to Advent 2019!  

Our Advent worship season begins Sunday December 1st with a focus on returning to nativity.  Several years ago a cookbook came out called Less is More… that’s the idea of Advent.

A return to nativity sounds like a refreshing way to reflect on Advent.  In order to anticipate the coming of Jesus well, (remembering his 1st coming and looking forward to a 2nd return), preparation is of great importance.  How are we to do that?  What should that look like?

Scripture is filled with wisdom and guidance, mandates and divine callings, about these things.  It definitely has something to do with less is more.  It’s difficult to seek God, hear God, follow God well when we are bombarded by so many different voices, demands, and interests.  Jesus ‘coming’ to our hearts and lives in greater measure will require intentional return to nativity.  For 4 weeks we will focus on themes of less is more in relation to the stewarding of our worship, time, generosity, and devotion.  Maybe by Christmas Eve worship together, our hearts will be better prepared for Jesus coming.

Text for Sunday is Romans 12:1-2.  Give Thanks and prepare the way of the Lord,
 See you Sunday! — Pastor Mark    

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The One Thing Worth Everything

Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Happy Thanksgiving early!  And welcome to Reverend Andy De Jong.  Andy will be bringing a message on Sunday from Matthew 13:44-46 titled, The One Thing Worth Everything (The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl).

Give thanks for life and for the gifts of family and friendship.  Give thanks for our loving God who provides everything we need for living.  Give thanks for breath and health and everything else that comes to mind.  Gratitude is a powerful testimony against darkness.  So let God’s light shine through you as you gather with others.  Give thanks with a grateful heart!

In the name of Jesus, 
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Beginning and the End: The BIG Picture of the Book of Revelation

Here we are at the end of our Revelation series.  Yet, this is far from the end.  God calls us to deeper devotion and engagement in the activity of his Kingdom come.  Revelation is couched in spiritual imagination and wonder.  Yet, there is much practical insight for God’s people.  

On Sunday, I will ask you to put on your spiritual imagination as the entire Book of Revelation will be expounded on in less than 25 minutes… Buckle up for a narrative, story telling ride, through the pages of John the Apostle’s visions from a prison cell on the Isle of Patmos.  

The message will conclude with some ‘So What?’ conclusions.  Why does this book and its ‘revelation’ even matter?  Gearing up already.  

See you Sunday – we will also celebrate the Lord’s Supper communion together!  

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, 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