Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Promise

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Promise
Hebrews 6:13-20

Happy week after Easter!  Thanks to all for a wonderful outdoor celebration in pulling off the venue with class.  And thanks to God for the blessing of a seasonally warm day for worship.  

This week we go back in order to move forward.  In our journey through the Book of Hebrews we moved quickly during Passion Week through chapters 5-10.  I will be going back to chapter 6 to kickoff a three week series of messages on Promise (6:13-20), Faith (11-12:3) and Encouragement (12-13) to conclude our messages on Hebrews.  

The passage for Sunday is a level 301 theological class.  The writer takes us back to Abraham and the Book of Genesis.  He makes an argument that God ‘double pinky swears’ an oath by 1st making a promise and then 2nd, sealing it by swearing by himself.  It’s a clever and powerful argument.  

The writer’s endgame is to give us an ‘anchor of hope for the soul that is firm and secure.’          
The anchor described by the writer is not one anchored to the ocean floor, rather, one grounded in heaven.  So what?  Who cares?  Be fun unpacking this one on Sunday.  See you then,

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Regarding Perseverance

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Regarding Perseverance
Hebrews 10:19-39

We are in passion week 2021.  In a recent weekly time with the kids, we discussed the practice that at the time of Jesus’ passion week experiences, each family, after arriving in Jerusalem for the week long Passover feast, would purchase a lamb for the family.  The lamb would go everywhere with the family.  And then, a week later, on Passover, the lamb would be slaughtered.  The lamb was food for the family meal as well as symbolic of God’s great deliverance of his people from Egypt and slavery.  It formed their identity as worshippers and followers of YHWH.  It symbolized God’s redemption through the shed blood of a lamb sprinkled on the doorposts long ago. 

This is powerful practice and imagery.  Imagine a Jewish, Hebrew family, arriving in Jerusalem for the Passover feast.  You have this lamb with you for a week, you get attached to it, feed it, care for it, hold it, you know that it’s life will soon be given as a symbolic gesture of God’s deliverance.  A substitute, the lamb’s life for my life.  And this practice is lived into and celebrated on a yearly basis – a highlight of all festivals.  

And then Jesus arrives this particular year for Passover celebration.  And unknowing to the people in the city that year, unknowing to even his own disciples – despite the fact Jesus predicted and told them what was necessarily about to happen – his suffering, crucifixion and death, the people did not understand that he was coming to be THE LAMB OF GOD.

 The drama, symbolism, and reality of Jesus as THE LAMB OF GOD is powerful and palpable.  When Jesus speaks the words at the Passover meal with his disciples, “This is my blood, this is my body,” I don’t think they have a clue what he is talking about.  Yet, they soon will.  

On Good Friday, we celebrate the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  THE ONE who suffered, was crucified, died and was buried for our sake, on behalf of the entire world.  In the Book of Hebrews, we have seen the superior truth of who Jesus is – the fulfilment of all of God’s promises.  2 Corinthians 5:5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Jesus has been made perfect, as Hebrews says, in every way, that we might become the righteousness of God.  Unbelievable salvation, the perfect Lamb.  

‘Hallelujah!  What a Savior!’  So it is that Easter comes 3 days after Passover.  The sign of Jonah, the exclamation point on Jesus victory over sin, death, and hell.  Again, on our behalf.  No greater love or pure grace will ever be known.  God’s justice satisfied!  The door to salvation is open wide!  Just as 2 Corinthians goes on to say, “Now is the day of salvation!  Be reconciled to God.”  Hebrews gives us much to chew on with this as well, “Don’t delay.  Don’t neglect such a great salvation.”  Believe it, receive it, live it.  Friday (7:00pm indoors) and Sunday (9:30am outdoors) this week, we will celebrate it!!!!!!!!!

It’s a fact, exclamation point, He is risen!  
Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Regarding The Great High Priest

King Soopers Shopping Center in Boulder, CO



You can hear words of response all around you to the shooting tragedy in our community that resulted in 10 deaths and the loss of a loved one for many.  Yet, the words are difficult to speak.  Our hearts go out to each and every impacted family in their grief and to our community as a whole impacted by this tragic shooting.    

When senseless violence happens in another city, often far away, it registers, but affects us very little.  When it happens in our own community, just down the street, it becomes a painful near reality. 

I’m encouraged in the midst of this experience by God’s Word and Spirit.  I’m reminded of the importance of community and connectedness.  Places and spaces in living life together where we find deep and rich relationships, the kind of relationships that ground our lives in true reality.  To engage in such a heinous act of violence seems to be absolutely unattached from true reality.  I’m sure the reasons are many and the causes are complicated.  And doesn’t warrant my, or any others, limited judgments.  

In light of this week’s violence, I was struck with our deep need to be grounded in true reality, the reality that is Jesus.  Jesus stepped into our brokenness and tragedy, grounded himself in our reality, became true reality in flesh and blood.  And in him and through him, his birth, life, death, and resurrection, his reality becomes our true reality.  Our identity is found in Jesus.    

Our text for this week from Hebrews 5-7 speaks of this, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need… We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  

In tragedy, we have some good news – of One who understands, knows, has experienced all tragedy.  One who understands our weakness, brokenness, our needs.  Who has not only been there, experienced that, but gone through it to the other side.  

I find the best way to comfort in sorrow is simply, especially in the face of senseless violence, to be present.  Speak less, be present more.  Yet there is no denying… people need Jesus.  We need Jesus and our neighbors need Jesus.  No doubt about it.  Jesus is the one who grounds us in true reality.  And in Jesus, there is comfort.  In Jesus, all fear is gone.  In Jesus, there is life and hope. 

Keep your eyes and attention fixed on Jesus as we live, move and breath in God’s world,

Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Regarding Sabbath Rest

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Regarding Sabbath Rest
Hebrews 3:7 – 4:13

Spring is coming – I hope!  COVID clouds seem to be lifting – I hope!  We may be worshipping outdoors in the near future?  I hope!  Jesus Christ the hope for the world?  I know!  No need to hope, it’s a sure thing.   

Hebrews has been a good journey thus far.  Some early feedback from Sunday was some surprise at not ever putting Moses and Jesus side by side, and is seeing it, marveling at the parallels.  The writer of Hebrews is going to do this with regularity – opening up Old Testament revelation and pointing to its fulfillment in Jesus.  The writer does a huge favor for us by explaining these comparisons.

Sunday we move from the comparison of Jesus to angels (Ch1), Jesus being fully God and fully man (Ch2), Jesus superior to Moses (Ch3), to Jesus the fulfilment of sabbath rest (3:7-4:13).  A couple of questions for Sunday: Why is it difficult for us to enter into God’s rest?  How is it that Joshua and Israel entering the promised land didn’t result in rest?  What is it about Jesus and his accomplishments that open the door for us to fully enter into God’s rest?  What does Jesus mean when he invites us to ‘Come all who are weary and burdened… and I will give you rest?’  

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

How Does Jesus Stack Up To Moses?

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

What About Moses? How Does Jesus Stack Up To Moses?
Hebrews 3

The Book of Hebrews: 

  • Chapter 1 – Jesus is fully God and ‘no angel,’ he is far superior!
  • Chapter 2 – Jesus is fully human, been made perfect and the ‘pioneer of our salvation.’
  • This week, Chapter 3 – What about Moses?  How does Jesus stack up to Moses?

This is gonna be fun.  The writer of Hebrews moves to comparing Jesus to Moses.  Moses, in Hebrew history and Jewish tradition is a monster figure of importance.  The closest thing to Biblical ‘sainthood.’  I almost tripped through the entire book of Exodus on Tuesday prepping for this message.  Moses is quite a story.  His life is Biblically epic.  Yet, when it comes to Jesus, Moses is but a mere shadow of what has been revealed in Jesus.  

Much of the message Sunday will focus on Moses.  Why?  Because the writer of Hebrews assumes you know everything about Moses.  We can’t afford to assume that together.  So we will go back (to Exodus) in order to go forward in understanding Hebrews’ message for us today.  

Sunday, March 14th, The Centrality of Christ: What about Moses?  Hebrews 4.
See you then – snow storm, hell or high water, with livestream, the message goes on,

Pastor Mark    

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Fully Human/Fully God

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Fully Human/Fully God
Hebrews 2

As we enter into our second week of the Book of Hebrews, and further into Lent, I have been reminded of what is central in life.  From the get go, the Book of Hebrews puts Jesus front and center of everything.  This is more than a statement of truth and confession.  It affects everything in life.  

For example, it shapes my desires and my sense of worth.  In Jesus, ‘being’ is more important than having, and to some extent, doing.  In Jesus, I’m more than the result of my efforts, I’m a child of God.  In Jesus, the love I express finds it source in a greater love rather my own attempts at ‘willing it into existence.’  In Jesus, the healing words I may speak are not simply my own, they are His.  

To have Jesus at the center of my life means that the Holy Spirit ‘rules’ my life.  This rule is not one of domination, manipulation, exploitation and the like, rather, one characterized by compassion and service.  It means, as Henri Nouwen stated a couple of days ago in a Lenten devotional, ‘having my competitive selfhood unmasked, giving up imaginary identity distinctions, and clinging to a new self and identity in Christ.’  

With Jesus at the center of my life and all things, I am free of greed and desire for power.  It allows me to enter into relationships with others free of distance and fear.  Allows me to enter into the suffering of others.  The list of possibilities and opportunities to live life in Christ are everywhere and in everything.   

If… If… If… I surrender my daily life to Jesus.  That is the most challenging part of it all.

Sunday we take a look at Hebrews Chapter 2.  Chapter one focused on Jesus being ‘fully God.’  Chapter 2 focuses on Jesus being ‘fully human.’  Why are both of these necessary?  To understand the answer to that question about Jesus just may be the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.

Abiding in Him,
Mark      

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Supreme!

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Supreme!
Hebrews 1

The Day of the Lord six week series has sailed.  And the Centrality of Christ ten message Lenten series based on the Book of Hebrews has docked into port!  We will work our way through the Book of Hebrews up though Passion Week and our Easter celebration.  

Who wrote the book of Hebrews anyway?  A few possibilities… What does the Book of Hebrews have to say?  Much about the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ.  In a day where everyone questions everything, Hebrews provides an amazing apologetic lineup of reasons why Jesus is an absolute truth.  In chapter 1, the writer makes the claim that Jesus is ‘God’s final word!’ and then backs it up with explanations of comparison to angels, Moses, fully God/fully man, a fulfillment of the law, a superior priest, a fulfillment of sacrifices and the Sabbath, superior in faith and perseverance and an eternal source of encouragement… you get the picture.  JESUS IS SUPREME!  When you come to the knowledge and realization that God exists and that Jesus is God, my existence can no longer be at the center, because my existence derives its total being from His.  What are the implications of this truth?  Everything… because everything flows from Him.        

We begin this Sunday with a look at Hebrews chapter 1, The Centrality of Christ: Supreme!  Regarding God’s Final Word and Angels.  We will celebrate communion together this Sunday as well.  

Grace and Peace!!

Pastor Mark    

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Avoid Idleness

Already But Not Yet – The Day of the LORD
Avoid Idleness

2 Thessalonians 3

Good Day… the Lord has created and called it into existence!  What are you going to do with it that reflects his good gift?  This week we entered into Lent season 2021.  Lent has been a space and place in the church calendar year when God’s people around the globe enter into a time of repentance, reflection, and renewal.  It is a time of preparation of the heart for Passion Week culminating in an Easter celebration.  It’s a great opportunity every year for recalibration when it comes to all matters of faith and life.    

This year we will focus on the Book of Hebrews during Lent.  The Book of Hebrews functions much like an apologetic writing.  It is dominated with vignettes of illustrating Jesus’ superiority and centrality, stacked up one after the other.   I have never spoken a series of messages from the Book of Hebrews.  Excited to do so.    

I am looking forward to exploring in greater depth the various areas of Jesus’ superiority the writer expounds on.  I also believe this will be a great focus for our faith community at this time in history.  As everything is questioned today, including basic tenets and beliefs of Christian faith, Hebrews will be apropo in grounding us in the centrality of Jesus Christ in all things. This should also help us focus on the purpose of Lent.  

Before we dive into Hebrews, one more week of The Day of the Lord to complete the series.  Our text for Sunday is from 2 Thessalonians 3, Avoid Idleness.  We will explore the concept of work in our exploration of the text.  What do you think?  Is ‘work’ good or bad?  What are the purposes behind ‘work’ and some of its goals?  What do you think was the main problem in the Thessalonian church that Paul addresses in this chapter?  

See you Sunday!  
   Pastor Mark  

In case you missed it, review Mark’s Ash Wednesday meditation, here.          

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Watch Out for the Man of Lawlessness

Already But Not Yet – The Day of the LORD
Watch Out for the Man of Lawlessness

2 Thessalonians 2

Our journey continues on the concept in Scripture of the Day of the Lord with a final two week look at the Book of 2 Thessalonians.  Two themes are prominent: Avoid the man (or spirit) of lawlessness and avoid idleness.    

Early church believers experienced the same things we do today.  The tendency toward rebellion against God is great.  The temptations to manipulate the natural order abound.  The treachery of ignoring God’s moral order is easy to do.  The worship of ‘self’ in the place of God is fashionable.  These things were the same then as they are now.  And Paul pleads with the church to be watchful, on guard and hopeful.  

We are not to be ‘surprised by it.’  We are to be discerning about it.  People have tried to identify the ‘man of lawlessness’ in the movements of history.  Yet, we would be better served to focus on the ‘spirit of lawlessness’ at work in the world and in each of us.  Paying attention to the ‘spirit’ instead of identifying a ‘man or woman’ of lawlessness will lead us to a more faithful walk with God.  

Our text for Sunday is from 2 Thessalonians 2.  Can you see the ‘spirit of lawlessness’ at work in our world today?  Forces that seek to deceive, divide, and devour truth?  Forces that prop themselves up in the place of God, manipulate the natural order and defile or seek to abolish the moral order?  Do you notice any of those tendencies at work in you?  All of these things are spawned from the ‘spirit of lawlessness.’  If we entertain it, allow it, act on it.  

Where does Paul end this conversation on this topic?  Wonderfully!  “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word!”  (2 Th 2:16-17). 

Great place to conclude!
Grace and Peace to you in the name of Jesus!
Pastor Mark          

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Sheep and Goats

Already But Not Yet – The Day of the LORD
Sheep and Goats

Matthew 25:31 – 46

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The text for this coming Sunday is the 3rd story in a row Jesus told after teaching about the coming of the ‘Son of Man,’ to describe what it will be like.  The emphasis of all three (Ten Virgins, Bags of Gold, Sheep and the Goats) is a WORD to be watchful, ready, and prepared for his return.   

In the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46), Jesus describes the separating of sheep and goats on the criteria of evidence of ‘sheep-like or goat-like’ behavior.  It’s interesting that the sheep and the goats both are surprised at Jesus’ words of blessing and warning based on their behavior.  The surprise on the part of the sheep is beautiful.  The surprise on the part of the goats is tragic.  

I also found it worthy of note that in our ‘woke’ society of today, where we accentuate differences between one another on just about anything and everything, Jesus doesn’t separate sheep and goats based on skin color, type of fur, whether one has horns or not, ethnicity, political affiliation (you name it) – separation is based solely on behavior and character.  Instead, Jesus separates sheep from goats based on whether or not they did these things (fed hungry, quenched thirst, clothed naked, visited sick or in prison) to the least one of these brothers and sisters of His.  The separation is based on behavior and character – evidence of belonging or not belonging to Jesus.

Matthew and his use of ‘least’ and ‘brothers and sisters’ throughout his book should give us the right direction.  If Jesus means to emphasize the behavior and character toward brothers and sisters of faith, how might that understanding give interpretation to the text?  I found this insight to be enlightening (like lightning).  

‘See’ you Sunday,
    Pastor Mark