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To the King of the Mountain, Creator of Storehouses of Snow…

It’s Moab week 2019, something I look forward to every year.  It’s the time of year to take a deep breath after a full ministry season.  I looked back over the past few months and noticed I hadn’t taken a Sunday away from the rhythm of weekly ministry since early August (Leadville 100!)  No wonder I was beginning to feel a bit weary. So this is it – a week off! 

I decided to take off early for some personal retreat time.  And so far I’m 50/50 on actually taking a deep breath (a break from the ministry routine).  I’m camped out near Alma, CO and spent most of the day yesterday outdoors just kickin’ around.  It was fantastic as waves of snow showers would come in periodically and change the landscape in an instant, after the cracking of boisterous thunder.  One was so loud, I jumped about two feet in the air.   And then, a snow squall moves in.  However, after dinner I just couldn’t help myself.  I began to plan the next series on the Fruit of the Spirit and worked late into the evening planning themes for preaching through Christmas.  Couldn’t stay away from it J.  Its OK – I love it!  Next series is gonna be great!  

But this morning, I started off better.  Cooked a breakfast and began to journal – like it, love it.  Then I packed up, drove to the end of a road and hit the trail for a high-altitude hike.  It was a brilliant day in the snow packed mountains between Alma and Leadville, CO.  All’s I wanted to do was go up.  As I followed a ridge line, I was on deep snow from the first step.  I came upon some bobcat tracks – fresh after last night’s snowfall.  “O God, give me a glimpse of the bobcat.”  

I followed the tracks up a massive snow pack.  At this time of year, these massive snow packs are firm due to the spring sunshine and the melting and freezing cycles almost daily.  I felt like an elf as I walked easily on the top of these gigantic snow fields.  This year, they are particularly large from the abundant winter snowfall.  

I summited my first peak and decided to go for another.  Everywhere I went, I kept crisscrossing the bobcat’s fresh tracks. I summited another and decided to go for one more, seeing that I could complete a loop by crossing another monstrous snow field.   The vista views were glorious and stunning, the drops off the cliffs took my breath away, and I was taken back by the enormity of the snow fields this year particularly.  I fast forwarded in my mind to seeing the melted snowfields replaced by fertile soil and mountain flowers.  Going to be a good year for mountain flowers!   

A panoramic 360 view, still no visual sign of an actual bobcat, only tracks, yet, God was on full display.  It was hard to miss Him.  After years of drought, he has filled again the mountain storehouses with snow.  Majesty everywhere I looked.  Brilliant white, wafting clouds, Mt Democrat and Mt Lincoln (14’ers) not far away jutting their praise to the sky, like arms raised to heaven.  And this is where the bobcat has his home? Does the bobcat have any understanding of the brilliance around him as he traverses this terrain daily?

‘Thank you God,” I whispered to myself.  I put out my arms up with hands open and began to laugh.    

Before my descent, I dialed in I-tunes, shuffle mode, let the fun begin.  The path down was extraordinary – a massive storehouse of snow over a mile long.  As I’m descending, songs play at random – Indescribable… I Surrender All… You Make Beautiful Things… and I started  running, laughing all the way.  Once in a while, the joy of the Lord floods your soul, and now was the moment. 

When I reached the car, my heart was glad.  I didn’t see the bobcat that had crisscrossed my path all morning.  But I did catch a glimpse of God.  And that’s all that mattered.  Maybe next time I will see the elusive bobcat…

This Sunday we welcome Pastor/Professor Ron Nydam to Crestview.  Ron will be bringing a message about belonging from Ezekiel 16.  Ron has spent a lifetime working with Adoptees and Adoption issues.  He has written a book on it, and continues to engage in this work today.  

This topic is particularly important to me, as I have been adopted.  My core identity in Christ is understood through the lens of being adopted by God as his child.  It’s made all the difference in the world for me.  Welcome Ron!

To the King of the Mountain, Creator of storehouses of snow, and the one who adopted me as his child,

Pastor Mark 

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Amazing Love! Satisfaction and Resurrection in the Name of Love!

As we prepare for Good Friday and Easter worship services, I urge you to read in one sitting, an entire passion week series of events from the Gospels.  I recommend Matthew 26-28, Mark 11-16 or Luke 22-24, or if you are really ambitious John 12-21.   

These chapters contain beautiful stories of Jesus last days with his disciples and describe a tragic series of events that lead to his crucifixion.  Of course, the last word is resurrection!   

On Good Friday (19th), we will walk together in worship through the significant events of Jesus passion with various readings, traditional songs, abbreviated teachings, and participation in communion.  On Easter (21st) we will celebrate with Christians around the globe the resurrection of Jesus.  Our text for Sunday comes from John 14:5-14.  Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  What does Jesus mean?  He also says, “It is the Father living in me who is doing his work.”  And further, “you will do even greater things than these?”  Jesus is teaching his disciples what it will be like when he leaves them.  And it has much to do with his resurrection life and power that will soon be at work in them.  

I’m looking forward to seeing you this weekend.  Go ahead, take on the challenge – read through, in one sitting, Jesus passion through the eyes of the disciples before Good Friday worship.  See you soon.  

In Christ,

Pastor Mark 

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10th Command: The Desires of Your Heart

My plans to go to Michigan to see my mom and two of our three daughters has been disrupted.  Most flights for today are being wiped away.  So I’m riding out God’s plans until further notice.  Currently writing for Sunday as I watch the snow accumulate :).    

We have arrived at the end of our series on the Ten Commandments.  The journey as been a good one as we have explored the wisdom of God given in the form of gracious boundaries for our flourishing.  God is good.  Our Text of the Quarter from Psalm 19 says, “By them is your servant warned and in keeping them there is great reward.”  In giving us his Word (law included), God’s love for us is revealed.    

In walking through the commandments in this series it would seem that not much has changed with the ‘evolution’ of humanity.  As we have become more ‘civilized and advanced’ so does our creativity in breaking God’s rules of life.  Not much has really changed in that regard since the days of Moses and the Israelites.  

Another thing hasn’t changed: God’s will for our lives.  God created us with a deep longing for relationship with Him and with a deep purpose of glorifying Him.  

The 10th command, ‘Do not covet’, stands on its own individually as 1 of 10 commands.  Yet, it also functions as a summary of the second table, ‘Love your neighbor’, that points once again to the 1st command, ‘Love God above all.’  The 10th command goes much deeper than addressing possessions and relationships – it goes to the heart of it all – the desires of the human heart.

This will be the focus of our engagement with the 10th commandments Sunday: What are the desires of your heart?   

See you Sunday – Palm Sunday… 

Peace,
Pastor Mark 

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9th Command: Telling the Truth

After a week excursion into Ephesians with Pastor Rick Ebbers we return with a two week wrap-up of our series on the 10 Commandments, God’s Laws of Life, with a dive into the 9th (Do not lie) and 10th (Do not covet) commandments.  

In preparing for these messages I was struck by the connection between stealing (8th), lying (9th) and coveting (10th) commands.  These three are closely linked with one another with the 10th commandment functioning like a summary of the 2nd table of the law. 

Our commandment for Sunday has to do with the call of God on our lives to a life of honesty and truthfulness.  I read a fascinating article this week of excerpts from an interview with a Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, Patrick Deneen, by Comment entitled Liberty, Equality… Disintegration?.  

The article sparked a synapse of thought and belief that I have been trying to convey throughout this series.  It brought together for me something I have been grappling with since the beginning of this series.  At one point in the article he states, If liberty is understood as the reduction of all obstacles to that which we want, then one of the greatest obstacles to that which we want becomes the limitations of the natural and created order.  

From the start of this series I have emphasized the truth that God’s law is simply God’s truth of boundaries written down for our understanding and flourishing that are embodied in the created order.  They are true for all people for all time.  This truth is based on the belief that there is a supreme loving Creator Redeemer God who is our ultimate authority in life.  This truth is based on the belief that God has built into the fabric of the world and into the essence of human beings norms for our living and flourishing.  

When God gave to Moses and the Israelites (and thus given to us today) the 10 commandments, he knew what life outside of his authority and our devoted love to him would look lead to (1st table of the law – Love God above all, Love God only).  And it follows that he knew what life outside of love for our neighbor would look like (2nd table of the law – Love our neighbor).  In reading the Biblical story from beginning to end, we see over and over the fruit/blessing of living within God’s gracious boundaries of love.  We also see over and over the chaos/pain of living in ‘autonomy’ from God’s gracious boundaries of love. 

If you think deeply enough about this, this one statement by Professor Deneen explains why our world experiences such depth of brokenness, why our political systems and ideologies let us down and throughout the history of humanity so often fail, why on a personal level we experience angst in knowing that ‘things are not the way they are supposed to be.’  

Once we remove God from our lives, from societal conversation, from morality and sexuality – whatever context of life, we turn our back to the Creator Redeemer God and the design of the created order designed for our flourishing.  And this leads to chaos – not flourishing.  Looks to me like it all starts with the 1st command and leads us to the 10th command.  The Wisdom of God

Peace,
Pastor Mark 

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Living Like We Belong

From left to Right: Pastors Mark Quist, Eric Snyder and Rick Ebbers

Welcome to Pastor Rick Ebbers from our sister church The Journey in Longmont.  Rick and I both thought it a good idea to trade messages to each other’s faith communities.  Rick and I have been friends for about 15 years now.  

Rick will be bringing a message from Ephesians 4:1-16, a message on the unity and maturity in the body of Christ – because of Christ!  Rick will preach on the theme of Living Like We Belong.  

In reading the text for Sunday’s message, what are the characteristics that mark the Christian community?  The text has many defining characteristics. 

Unity in Christ is something we are given when we come to know Christ.  Jesus accomplished our unity and Paul simple calls the church to ‘make every effort to keep it.’  Gonna be a great time of celebrating Christ!  

On April 7th and 14th, we will complete our series on the Ten Commandments with the call to Telling the Truth and The Desires of your Heart.  

In the name of Jesus, for the sake of Christ and his kingdom,

Pastor Mark

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Lent 3, 8th Command: Applying the Golden Rule in a Lawbreaking Society

One thing is certain, Sunday’s come around with amazing regularity.  By design God ordained 1 day of 7, with regularity, set aside for intentional re-creation, rest and worship.  Its hard to believe that when we embarked on the journey of the Ten Commandments we would so quickly arrive at commandment #8: You shall not steal.  Sunday’s come around with amazing regularity – God’s design.  

Each week we have expanded the scope of each command, exploring the outer rings of influence of each command.  This week is no different.  Stealing has become commonplace in our lives in many ways – some known, others much more subtle.  Today, there is a growing attitude that what belongs to someone else is OK ‘to take’ from them.  This command addresses directly things like greed, envy, and jealousy.  It also champions the seeking of contentment, gratitude, and generosity.  The core of this command’s scope can be summed up in the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you

As with the other commands, a couple of hot button issues are related to this command.  Lets dive deep into why God gave this command as 1 of the 10 commands of life for our flourishing.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark 

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Lent 1, 6th Command: Loving your Neighbors in an Angry Culture

This Sunday, we will be in the middle of the second table of the Law of God given to us in the 10 Commandments.  We will continue to explore the narrow and broad, positive and negative aspects of each of the 10 Commandments.  This Sunday: You shall not kill.  

Increasingly our culture is setting aside God’s command ‘to not kill’ as various forms of killing through violence, questionable ethical decisions, and hate are on the rise.  Cultures and societies disintegrate into chaos when the value of life is diminished.  Issues of capital punishment, uncontrolled anger, war, wars of words, ethnic cleansing, suicide, revenge, gun violence, gang violence, euthanasia, abortion – are only a few of the issues that are on the mainstream of discussion today.  

And Jesus doesn’t let anyone off the hook by expanding this command to include hate, name calling, and general disdain or disregard for another person’s life as a breaking of this command.  For preparation for Sunday, revisit Jesus words from the Sermon on the Mount in Mathew 5:21-26.  Where do all of these things lead?  Death and God’s judgment.  

God gave us the 10 Commands as gracious and wonderful boundaries for our flourishing.  As we move from honoring father and mother, to promoting life, to respecting others property, being truthful and being content – What will we choose? 

Sunday we welcome Marissa Perry Saints to our worship service and download time share information and to lead us in a discussion on immigration. 

Peace in the name of Jesus,
Pastor Mark

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Fifth Command: Honoring Authority in an Age of Disrespect

On Sunday we move from the 1st Table of the Law (four commands focused on ‘Loving God’) to the 2nd Table (six commands focused on ‘Loving our neighbor’ well.)  This Sunday, is Commandment Five: Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land God has given.  

We will look at the positive and negative aspects to the command as well as the narrow and broad scope: Honoring Authority in an Age of Disrespect.

In an age of family breakdown, abuse of authority, and messed up relationships between parent and child, parent to parent, and a general questioning of anyone in a position of authority, how ought we to honor and obey this command?  Lets dive in on Sunday.

Congratulations to Chase and Ethan Rietema as they make their profession of faith and experience their baptism.  We rejoice with their commitment of faith and public stance for Jesus.  Come and celebrate with us this coming Sunday!

For the Kingdom of God,

Pastor Mark

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Fourth Command: Keep the Sabbath Day Holy

After 3 comes 4: Keep the Sabbath Day Holy.  What does it take to keep the sailboat of life sailing on an even keel and gliding along the water towards the desired destination?  

Answer: A healthy respect for the rhythms of rest God has built into the fabric of our being for our good.  So important is this creational rhythm to God that he commands it.  Must be important.  

In today’s culture of 24/7 activity and work, what does Sabbath day observance look like?  How ought it to be obeyed in our lives before God, and in Christ?  What does the command forbid?  What does it allow?  What does it encourage?    

Again, as with any command of God there is much freedom in how it takes expression in our life.  Living out the specifics of this command can take different forms of obedience.  What’s important is that the command is honored and obeyed.  

And with all God’s commands, in following them there is ‘great reward.’  Blessing follows obedience.  Following Sabbath brings Shalom physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – God’s design.

See you Sunday – take a Sabbath,

Pastor Mark

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Third Command: Protecting God’s Reputation

On to the 3rd command, “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.”  This is a good command to restate in the positive – “Do everything you can to promote God’s good name and reputation in both word and deed.”  The scope of this command can be narrowly and broadly applied and cover everything from our speech to the way we live.

How do we as Christ followers bring honor or dishonor to God’s name?  When does our use of God’s name cross over into commandment breaking?  In what ways do we tarnish God’s name in the things we do?  Why does God make this one of his core commands for his people?  

“The law of the Lord is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, and firm – refreshing the soul, making wise the simple, giving joy to the heart, giving light to the eyes, enduring forever – they are altogether righteous.  They are more precious than gold, sweeter than honey.  By them your servant is warned and in keeping them there is great delight.”  Psalm 19:7-11.  Our new TQ!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark