Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God’s Will/My Will: Freedom – Examine/Spiritual Disciplines


God’s Will/My Will: Freedom – Examine/Spiritual Disciplines

Gal 5:1 with Mt 3:7-11

Freedom!  It is a beautiful state of being, worthy of pursuing, and a much desired way to live life.  Freedom is something that people will risk their lives to obtain.  Ever spoke to someone who has lived in an oppressive country, under an oppressive government?  It’s powerful to hear their testimonies of what freedom means to them!  Coming from ‘oppression and slavery’ to a place of ‘freedom’ is exhilarating – the gratitude is undeniable.  Our country has long been a sought after place to come for safety and refuge, the promise of a better life that comes with ‘freedoms.’  My grandpa and grandma had a family of 7 when his country was rocked by a world war.  How quickly everything changes!  Simple everyday freedoms are gone in an instant and increased burdens on the human spirit grow – and the tragedies pile up.  For many who have lived under tyranny in this world, who have tasted freedom, the fight for maintaining freedom, continuing to live in a state of freedom – is worth fighting for.  Human freedom is a place where goodness can flourish.  Human slavery is a place where misery abounds and the human spirit dies.  Our own country’s history, of the schizophrenic existence of these two realities side by side, reveals the truth of both realities.  We can learn from it. 


Once our freedom in Christ is tasted, known, embraced – it’s worth fighting to maintain, to continue living in a state of freedom.


Our Text of the Quarter (TQ): “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.  Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Paul speaks of freedom in similar ways I opened with.  Once our freedom in Christ is tasted, known, embraced – it’s worth fighting to maintain, to continue living in a state of freedom.  What does Paul mean when he says, “Stand firm then and do not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  It implies there are ways that freedom(s) can be lost, or at the very least constrained, diminished.  

It reminds me of Ben Franklin’s spoken words to the assembly in Independence Hall, at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, we have ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’  It was spoken in passing at the end of the conventions deliberations, and was jotted down in Dr James McHenry’s notes.  It speaks of a profound reality, lived out in the lives of humanity.    

Don’t misunderstand.  I’m not making the parallel that our freedom in Christ, meaning our salvation, can be lost.  Nor am I giving a naive glowing review of Benjamin Franklin.  I am, however, making the parallel that any freedom can be constrained and diminished, including our freedom in Christ. Paul states it clearly here.  

How can this happen?  ‘Let me count the ways…’  There are many biblically revealed ways spoken of in Scripture.  But I’ll focus on a couple.  Freedom in Christ, freedom from sin and sin’s power and penalty, is a gift to be received.  Jesus earned that for us.  Keeping that freedom from being constrained or diminished requires ongoing engagement and growth in following Jesus, ‘a walk.’  And how we embrace and engage that walk with God leads toward continued freedom or toward a constraint, a diminishment of that freedom, call it ‘a burden of slavery.’  

Just as with freedoms that come with living in a free society requires a continued walking in those freedoms to continue in freedom, so it is with freedom in Christ.  And Paul is encouraging us to remain in freedom.  Just as with diminishing freedoms a country and government can engage in, so too, certain followings of Jesus or lack thereof, or old patterns of sin, engagement with the ways of darkness, leads to diminished freedom in Christ

For two weeks now, we have gained some knowledge of how to remain in God’s freedom.  For two weeks, we have explored some practices that keep us in freedom: Embracing God’s grace and power; and embracing a life of forgiveness (receiving and giving of it).  These things fulfill Paul’s prayer for us to remain in freedom and refrain from the burden of slavery.  This week we explore another avenue for walking in the freedom of Christ: Examen.  Examen is one spiritual discipline among many that helps us daily walk in freedom, keeping us from burdens that diminish freedom.  Come and learn all about it, as we learn together how to live and walk in the freedom of Christ.  Examen is only one practical way of MANY ways to continue walking in the freedom of Christ.  I’ll name a few on Sunday.  

See you Sunday,
    Mark Quist 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God’s Will/My Will: Freedom – Forgiveness

Message
God’s Will/My Will: Freedom – Forgiveness

Gal 5:1 with Mt 5: 12-15, Mk 1:1-8, Lk 3:1-18

Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  This verse echoes in my mind with another closely worded text from John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”  

In these weeks leading up to the Lent season, and a walk toward Passion Week, we are taking a look at what the Bible has to say about freedom.  This theme of freedom dovetails well with our months-long focus now on the integration of God’s will and our will.  And this Sunday, the intersection of these themes are embodied powerfully in forgiveness.  

Forgiveness may be the most essential quality of imaging God.  Forgiveness may be the greatest avenue for experiencing freedom.  Forgiveness received and forgiveness given may be the most powerful change agent for good the world has ever known.  Forgiveness may be the hardest thing we ever do… but well worth the receiving and giving. 

Forgiveness isn’t easy to understand… so many questions.  Is it unconditional or conditional?  Does forgive mean forget?  How do justice and forgiveness meet?  These are only a few questions.  Yet, on the other side of forgiveness is freedom.  

How do you understand forgiveness?  Can you describe it with a one word synonym or adjective, or a simple phrase?  What about unforgiveness?  As you reflect in preparation for Sunday about forgiveness, come ready to share your descriptive characterization of forgiveness.    

Our texts for Sunday are from Galatians 5:1, John 8:36, Matthew 6:9-15, Mark 2:6,10, Colossians 3:13, and Psalm 103. 

Did you know that all the sciences reveal that forgiveness is very good for your overall health?  Makes sense to me.  It’s God’s design for our well-being – take a good look at Jesus.  God made a way of forgiveness so that might be well – very well.   

See you Sunday,
    Mark Quist 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God’s Will/My Will: Freedom – Grace and Power (to change!)

Message
God’s Will/My Will: Freedom – Grace and Power (to change!)

Gal 5:1 – with 1 Pet 1:14-18, 2:1-24, 4:1-19

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this week, we kick off our Going Deeper with God’s Will/Our Will with a 7 week series on Freedom. Sunday we kick it off with a focus on embracing Grace and Power, followed by weekly topics of Forgiveness (Jan 22), Examine/Spiritual Disciplines (Jan 29), Discernment/Discrimination (Feb 5), The Art of Self Forgetfulness (Feb 12), Implications for Work, Language and Love (Feb 19), and Going to the Other Side/At the Crossroads of Culture (Feb 26) – with every week focusing on Freedom in Christ as God’s will and our will are integrated into everyday life.


How does power influence behavior?  Whose power?


Galatians 5:1, our new Text of the Quarter says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.  Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Our look at Ephesians 3:14-21 has given us some key clues on how to remain in freedom and abstain from enslavement, “…kneeling before the Father… strengthened in the power of the Holy Spirit… Christ dwelling richly in our hearts… rooted and established in love…” – all leading to God’s ‘immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine‘ work in us.

So let’s get practical and honest together before God in the next few weeks as we explore what this looks like.  For Sunday, read 1 Pet 1:14-18, 2:1-24, 4:1-19 and ask as you read, “How does power influence behavior?  Whose power?”  On Sunday, you will be asked early in worship to write down your definition of power.  Don’t google it, write your definition on paper from your own understanding and bring it to worship.  If you will not be in attendance – text or email me your definition (keep it to 1-2 sentences).

In our understanding of salvation we emphasize grace, rightly so.  Yet, there’s more to the full equation of salvation in a life of discipleship, and that’s power.  Whose?  How?  Why? See you Sunday.

Pastor Mark     

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God’s Will/My Will: Freedom – What will you choose?

Message

God’s Will/My Will: Freedom – What will you choose?

Galatians 5:1

Happy New Year, the year of our Lord, 2023!

As we begin 2023, we dive into the heart of it Sunday with a question, “What will you choose?”  Maybe, I should rephrase it to be, “Who will you choose?”  Pick one for yourself, they are interchangeable.  

Sunday will be a kickoff to a 7 week focus on Discipleship, key themes in following Jesus well.  This has much to do with understanding God’s will for our lives as well as the core purpose of our lives.  Over the next 7 weeks, leading us into Lent and toward Easter, we will explore Biblical truth about forgiveness, the union of grace (re-formative) and power (transformative), the riches of spiritual disciplines, the art of self-forgetfulness, the need for discernment (discrimination), the courage of stepping out into the world, and the implications for work, language and the practice of love.  

We have a core choice to make in 2023, is Jesus only a ‘sacrificial lamb’ or is he also ‘LORD.’ Will we choose to follow Jesus in cheap discipleship or costly discipleship?  Brothers and sisters in Christ, Crestview faith family – looking forward to 2023!  

Core text for the next 7 weeks is from Galatians 5:1, our new text of the quarter, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  And Ephesians 3:14-21 gives good body to what this means.  Check it out.  

See you Sunday if not before,
   Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Committed: The Adventure Awaits You in 2023!

Guest Speaker Pastor Larry Kelderman

Message
Committed: The adventure awaits you in 2023!

Psalm 37:5

Plan: General and specific – Jeremiah 29:11-14a
Pursuit: All of me, for all of him – Jeremiah 29:13
Prize: Doing the work of the kingdom – John 4:31-35

Resolution or Commitment?

God always calls us to commitment! His will, His way in every aspect and season of our life. Mark has been teaching on surrender and when you are at that place commitment is what is next! His will, His way! You see His plan, then you are ready to pursue what He has for you to do. The prize of making a difference in people’s lives. The gospel is about people! O Lord how may I share your love with someone today? Set up divine appointments, Holy Spirit encounters. Use me/us Lord, that I may produce fruit that remains. To your glory, Lord!

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Christmas! God’s Will/My Will: Draw Near – Incarnation

Message
Christmas! God’s Will/My Will: Draw Near – Incarnation

Luke 2:1-17

Everyone come and see what God has done – the Light of the World, given for us!  Christmas Eve worship gathering will be at 4:00pm, December 24th.  Invite your family, your friends, your neighbors, come!  

From David Benner: Knowing Jesus, “If the invisible God had never become visible, our knowing of God would remain very limited.  But Divine self-revelation was made complete in Jesus.  To know Jesus, therefore, is to know God.  Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15) Thus he is the filter through which we need to pass all our ideas about God as we seek to move from knowing about God to meeting God personally in Jesus.”   

From Trygve Johnson: “This is the in between time, a breath between days; the rupture of epochs: marking a border between the inauguration and the consummation of all things.  Here, Word whispers softly, disturbing our sleep, so that we might awaken in the embrace of the Son, whose life is the light that illuminates the world.”

Come, let us adore Him!

See you Saturday,
  Pastor Mark  

Hard to believe it’s Christmas week 2022 followed by New Year 2023.  God’s blessing to you in both the ending of one year and the beginning of a New Year.   

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God’s Will/My Will: Draw Near – Drawing Near: Part 2

Message
God’s Will/My Will: Draw Near – Drawing Near: Part 2
Hebrews 4:16 & James 4:7-10

In a time of hustle and bustle, Jesus comes.  The entire Roman world engaged in a census.  Have you seen Him?  Jesus that is.  Are you receiving Him?  Easy to miss Him when our lives are packed, hurried and worried.  Make sure to push the pause button – instead of looking down, look up and look in, where is God?  He is very near.  Draw near to Him.  

Sunday, we will celebrate Jesus drawing near with some pre-Christmas worship, communion together, and a fellowship feast to follow.  Then on Christmas Eve, we will gather at 4:00pm in gratitude at our Savior’s coming!  God is very near, so draw near to God.  

For Advent week 4, we focus on Hebrews 4:16 and James 4:7-10: Surrender and Draw Near and watch as God’s Will and Our Will merge in a holy/human weave (Part 2).  See you Sunday, God invites us to ‘Come!’  

Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God’s Will/My Will: Draw Near – Drawing Near: Part 1

Message
God’s Will/My Will: Draw Near – Drawing Near: Part 1
Hebrews 4:16 and James 4:7-10

Time.  It flows like an eternal spring, moving us forward into the future.  Time.  A continual gift of the present.  Time.  A reflection of the past.  Time.  A gift of God.  And ‘all we have to do is decide what to do with the time we have been given.’  (Gandalf, at a decision crossroad in the Mines of Moria.). 

Time is a gift given each day as we wake up, grab our cup of coffee (or not), that already has our plans stamped on it.  Going here or there, doing this or that.  And our will exerts powerful influence over our thoughts, actions, choices, and directions we travel through time.  Would if we saw time as a ‘gift from God’, an opportunity to walk each moment of the day in close relationship with our Maker, Redeemer, and Life Sustainer?  How would that influence ‘our plans’?  What might look different in attitude, in thought and action, as we encounter others, as we engage in work, school, and play, seeing time as a gift to receive, rather than achieve?  


Would if we saw time as a ‘gift from God’, an opportunity to walk each moment of the day in close relationship with our Maker, Redeemer, and Life Sustainer?  How would that influence ‘our plans’?  What might look different in attitude, in thought and action, as we encounter others, as we engage in work, school, and play, seeing time as a gift to receive, rather than achieve?  


Time is a mystery to me.  From where and how time began, to how it is that God, who is eternal, engages time.  One thing for sure, God enters time in the incarnation of Jesus, at just the right time.  And part of his purpose is the salvation and redemption of all things, including time.  Jesus is the God of all, and over, and in all history.  Jesus is the God of our story.  

So today, wake up and receive time as a gift, God’s gift, to be entered into afresh.  Today is a new day, it’s God’s day, given to us, the gift of time.  All we have to do is decide what to do with the time we have been given.  God invites us to choose Him.  Jesus invites us to follow Him.  The Holy Spirit is at work for us, in real time.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart… in all your ways acknowledge him.”  

Sunday, the plan is to explore the integration of God’s will and our will in exploring Scripture’s call to draw near to God. A two week series on ‘drawing near’ begins Sunday for Advent week three and four.  Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us 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.” And James 4:7-10 says, “Submit yourselves to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Drawing near to God is the best thing we can do with our ‘time’.  As time marches on, surrender your time to God, draw near to Him.  In drawing near to God, God will direct our paths.  After all, at the perfect time, God first drew near to us in THE GREAT DRAW NEAR.  Isn’t that what we celebrate at Christmas?    

See you Sunday,
   Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God’s Will/My Will: Draw Near – Surrender – Stories, Ours and Others

Message
God’s Will/My Will: Draw Near – Surrender – Stories, Ours and Others
Philippians 2:12-13, Psalm 139, Matthew 5:1-12

Big things come in little packages – Bethlehem, a little town, with a major happening!  As we look toward Bethlehem and the happenings there from long ago, in anticipation of our Savior’s birth, what are you hopeful for?   


In Jesus, God has drawn near to us.  What has Jesus coming accomplished for you and how are you responding?  How are you drawing near to God this holiday season?  


I’ve been thinking of the lyrics to a couple of well-known Advent hymns.  O Come, O Come Emmanuel sings, “O come O Wisdom from on high, to us the path of knowledge show and teach us in its ways to go…  O come Bright and Morning Star, bring comfort from afar, dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light.”  Come Thou Long Expected Jesus sings, “Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.”  

In Jesus, God has drawn near to us.  What has Jesus coming accomplished for you and how are you responding?  How are you drawing near to God this holiday season?  

As God comes to make his home in our hearts and lives, where and what is the fruit of ‘his kingdom come and will be done’ in us?  Big things come in little packages… the gift of Advent has come.

See you Sunday as we anticipate Jesus coming to us together,

Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God’s Will/My Will: Holy/Human Weave: Stories – Others/Ours

Message
God’s Will/My Will: Holy/Human Weave: Stories – Others/Ours
John 15:1-17, Psalm 139

Crestview Faith Family,

Thank You to Larry Kelderman for stepping in on such short notice this past Sunday and bringing us a message from God’s Word.  Over the past 7 years, Larry and I have had many significant conversations about faith and family over auto repair engagements.  Shared in prayer about family challenges, desires of the heart, and the discerning of God’s will in our lives.  Over that time, I’ve learned about Larry’s heart for God, love for Jesus and God’s Word.  When I called Larry on Friday, in a last minute pinch, knowing I needed another couple days for flu recovery, Larry was eager to step in and serve.  I’m thankful for Larry! 

This week is Thanksgiving.  A time set aside for special and pointed thanksgiving.  Today, I have a much sung melody of my past going through my head and heart, give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ, his Son.  And now, let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done for us, give thanks

I’m thankful for many things today.  Close to the surface of my thanks is feeling better after several days of not feeling well.  Even though our Thanksgiving plans have changed unexpectedly this year, Deone and I are turning our hearts toward God – giving thanks for the abundant gift of God and his love for us. I would love to hear what it is you are thankful for – let’s encourage one another this Thanksgiving with a heart of gratitude one to another.  Allow God to bring people to your mind who you can encourage and then send out a text of encouragement.  You never know God’s timing when it comes to an encouragement of gratitude.  It can be contagious.  Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I give thanks to God for you!


This holiday season, the invitation of God is to draw near to our Savior.  To receive Him and embody Him. 


Sunday begins our Advent Season.  We will begin our Advent journey by entering into John 15:1-17, Jesus teaching about the Vine and the Branches.  Of course, it’s much more than a teaching.  What Jesus speaks about is an invitation into an incarnational relationship with the Living God.  This holiday season, the invitation of God is to draw near to our Savior.  To receive Him and embody Him. 

As we have focused in on the integration of God’s will and our will, I’ve been interested in moving us toward our own stories.  Moving us from theology and Biblical truth toward an integration and engagement of God’s will in everyday life.  Larry has helped us turn the corner here in sharing his story of relationship and stating clearly, “God is at work in our lives and our story is important.  And God wants to partner with us, working in us to bring about his will in our life.”  

See you Sunday, as we come together with the purpose to draw near to God together, giving thanks to our great God,
  Pastor Mark