Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

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

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Second Command: Honoring God’s Name

In the second command for this week, it seems that God commands the exact same thing: You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and forth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.  (Exodus 20:4-6) In the first command God emphasizes he alone is to be worshipped.  In the second command he reveals that there is to be nothing beside him or in the place of him.  Why?  Because he is jealous (zealous) for his interests and for our love.  

The Law of Life in 10 Commands!  This is shaping up to be a great series for us that will take us all the way to Passion Week.  In the 1st command we saw God’s call to love Him with all we are – whole heart, whole soul, whole strength.  

The Israelites found out what this means when Moses was taking to long time away from them with God on Mt Sinai.  They desired to have some object that they could see and worship, so they fashioned a golden calf.  (Exodus 32)  This did not please God in the least (putting it mildly).  This command seems easy to obey because we don’t bow down to idols of metal, stone, or wood that image God or another god.  Idols seem primitive and tribal.  Yet, is that all there is to this command?

Each week we will broaden the scope of each command.  Each command of the 10 commands has a broad scope.  Are there other ways in which we place something beside God or in place of God where we might ‘bow down’ to it?  Something or someone that takes up our time, money, energy, that takes up residence in our daily life that could rise to the level of beside God or in place of God and in a very real way ‘bow down’ to it?  

See you Sunday, in the name of Jesus,

Join us this Thursday at 7:00pm at the Brewing Market in Lafayette for a discussion on Civil Government and the Christian with some dabbling into the idea of Civil Religion.  

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

1st Command: Love the Lord your God

Hebrew Text On Stone Tables: The 10 Commandments

This Sunday we begin a 10 week series on the 10 commandments: The Law of Life in 10 Commands.  Growing up in the church it was a regular weekly practice to read the 10 commandments.  Hearing them with this regularity can tend to lead you to recite them without thinking and give you the impression that God is all about what you can’t do.  

Since the early days of my church experience with the 10 commandments, I have done a 180 on how to view the commands.  The Law of God is life.  I now see the 10 commandments in light of Psalm 19’s reflection on God’s law: radiant, trustworthy, perfect, right, and pure – sweeter than honey, more precious than gold…  for ‘in them your servant is warned and in keeping them there is great reward.’

The commandments of God lead to life.  I now see God’s law as creational norms spelled out for us.  God’s laws reflect the true reality of truths built into the fabric of creation that lead us in God’s ways of flourishing.  

Each week we will address a different command and unpack its understanding in terms of each commands scope.  The ten commands actually cover every area of life in terms of its scope.  Think of it like an archery target.  The bullseye of the command is the central driving emphasis of the target.  The surrounding rings on the target are different areas of the central commands scope.  I’m really looking forward to this series.  This series will lead us deep into our 2019 Lenten season – great preparation for Passion Week.   

Reminder: Sunday there is a Super Bowl party invitation for all to the Huffaker home late afternoon and evening.  Bring yourself and some food.  Also, Thursday Feb 7th 7:00pm its Pub Theology night at the Brewing Market Espresso Vino on the topic of Civil Religion.  

See you soon,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Bread and Wine or Body and Blood?

This Sunday is week three of our series on the Lord’s Supper.  We explored Jesus claim, “I am the bread of life!” and his invitation to a filling of our hunger and a quenching of our thirst.  We peered into the early church of Corinth and grappled with Paul’s teaching about the ‘how’ we celebrate communion that brings honor or dishonor to the celebration.

This week, we dive into the words of Jesus as he presents a challenging reality, “Unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you have no life in you.”  What does that mean?  For certain, this became a big hurdle for those who heard this teaching to overcome as many who followed Jesus up to this point in his ministry turned away.

Part of the problem for Jesus hearers is that they had deep traditions that included the Passover feast.  And Jesus was turning their understandings of this celebration and the sacrificial system upside down.  Jesus essentially challenges their complete understanding of this central feast of their Jewish identity.

We will unpack this teaching and look at the Christian churches understanding of this  We will also dive into how this carries over into our celebration of the Lord’s Supper today and finally, celebrate communion together!

Can’t wait,  see you Sunday if not before,

Pastor Mark

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The Lord’s Supper: Discerning the Body

Cruising into 2019 and liking the direction of our message this week.  This may be the most ‘exegetical’ message to date!  What that means is that this message dives deep into the cultural context, theology, and language of our text from 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.  We continue in week 2 of our 4 week series on the Lord’s Supper.

In Corinth, the early church was struggling to be a fledgling church that honors Christ in its community life together.  They had lots of challenges from rejecting their pagan past and in embracing their new found community in Christ.  Interesting issues affected their life together in sorting out what it means to not only believe in Jesus but then to live it out faithfully.

Sounds not much different than today.  In Corinth, the early church came together and celebrated the fellowship meal and the Lord’s Supper together.  However, the way they were doing it brought ‘dishonor’ to the body of Christ.  What does that mean and what were they doing that brought judgment on themselves as they ‘eat and drank’ together?  Come Sunday and find out more… and more than that, come and experience the body of Christ!

In Christ, we are set apart, but not alone.  We have the Spirit of Christ and one another.

Pastor Mark


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I AM The Bread of Life!

2019!  We are kicking off the year together with a series on Communion: The Lord’s Supper.  We will be looking at the Lord’s Supper from several different angles:

  • Jesus declares, “I am the bread of life!” (John 6:25-51)
  • Discerning the Body – Potential Abuses of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
  • Bread or Wine or Body and Blood? (John 6:53-70)
  • The Cross: Power or Weakness? (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

The Lord’s Supper has been a central sacrament of the church of Jesus Christ for centuries.  What do we believe about this sacrament and how does it affect our life together?  These are important questions with beautiful outcomes for our living together.  Getting ready for the journey into this beautiful sacrament that God has given us.

Beginning in February, we will begin a series through the 10 commandments.  One a week for 10 weeks!  This too, I look forward too with anticipation.  We tend to look at the commandments with singularity and with negative instruction.  “You shall not kill” for example is seen as a singular negative command: “Do not take another person’s life.”  Yet, the commandments are better understood in the ‘scope of life’ that the command covers.

I think of each command as a bullseye on a target.  Its the center of the command.  And the rings that echo out from the bullseye are like ripples on pond after a rock (the central command) is thrown into the water.  For example, ‘You shall not kill’ also intends the positive, ‘Do all you can for your neighbors good’ and ‘do not say anything insulting about your neighbor.’  These are ripples on the pond, rings around the bullseye, that fit within the scope of the command.

This should be ‘fun’ exploring the ramifications of these 10 commands.  We have some catchy titles each week for this series, such as, ‘Honoring Authority in an Age of Disrespect’ (You shall honor your Father and your Mother) and ‘Fearing God in a Permissive World’ (You shall not commit adultery).  How does each of these commands of God increase our flourishing?  Looking forward –

In the name of Jesus and for God’s glory,
Pastor Mark

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Listening, Faith, Mary and Joseph

Its already the 4th week of Advent this Sunday 9:30am worship and then we follow that up with a Christmas Eve service on Monday at 5:30pm!  Invite your friends and neighbors.  Gather your family together and make worship a priority for your family Christmas celebration this season.  Is Jesus not the reason for the season?  All other things seem to pale in comparison.

I began this Advent season with a reflection on the need to make space for the coming of Jesus to the human heart.  How has that been going for you over the past three weeks?  Now is the time.  On Sunday, we will reflect on this phrase in Luke 2, “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  Mary intentionally made space for the Savior of the world in more ways than one.  She carried the Savior, gave birth to the Savior, held the Savior, nursed the Savior, sang the Savior to sleep, began raising the Savior… (you get the picture!) She made room for the Savior and in those early days can imagine all that she pondered, reflected on, and prayed into.  What a wonder this baby Jesus would have been.

Mary and Joseph are wonderful examples of God’s people listening, responding in faith and surrender, and stepping forward in obedience.  Here is something to ponder and reflect on: How do both Mary and Joseph demonstrate listening, faith, surrender and obedience?  Take a look at the early chapters in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John before Jesus was born.  How does Mary respond to the news that she will become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Savior of the World?  How does Joseph respond to the news of Mary’s pregnancy?  What is the initial reactions?  What are the steps of faith demonstrated after they encounter the angels?

See you Sunday!  In the Advent spirit – waiting… can’t wait!

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Advent 3: Relationship, Social Psychology, and Shepherds

A Universe of Promise: From Creation to its full Consummation at the end of all things!  Our Advent series has been a wonderful adventure of looking deeper into the narrative of Luke 2.  Who were these characters (Caesar, Angels, Shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus) and why do they matter?

We looked at Caesar and the political world of Jesus birth, a tale of two kingdoms.  We looked at the angels bursting on the scene in brilliance and then ‘poof’ they return to heaven.  Why such limited glimpses of God’s glory throughout the unfolding of God’s story and why so much waiting for God’s people throughout history for his Kingdom to come in all of its fullness?  And this week we look at the shepherds.  Who were they at Jesus birth?  High society class or low?  Older men or children/teenagers?  Boys or girls?  Why could that matter?

Come Sunday ready to worship our Savior Jesus!  “For to the shepherds (us) this Savior has been born” – to ordinary, common, everyday, ‘least of these persons’… just like us – like me, like you!  And that is good news!

This Sunday, we will plan to squeeze in a Christmas program, Advent Candle reading, Jesse Tree teaching, Communion, and a briefer than ‘normal’ message.  Sounds like a very full time of joy!  Come and worship.

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Mark

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A Universe of Promise: Justice, Political Economy and Caesar.

Its here – Advent 2018!  As we begin our Advent journey be aware of the use of your time and the strength of your commitments.  Be intentional with the spirit of the season by avoiding the rush of activities, the hustle and bustle of our commercial culture, and the over scheduling of events.  Carve out intentional time with God in regular Sunday worship, daily reflection in Word and prayer, meaningful connection with those closest to you, and seek opportunities to bless some others.  Or what will almost certainly happen is your life will be swallowed up with other things and the holidays pass by with more regret than joy, more fatigue than rest, more anxiety than peace.  When it comes to the Christmas season – less is more.

With that mini sermon (word of wisdom) in mind, our focus for Advent will be on Luke 2.  We will walk through this epic Christmas story with eyes on different characters.  Each of our five Advent worship experiences will weekly focus on Caesar (Political Economy and Justice), Angels (Beauty and the Arts), Shepherds (Family and Relationships), Mary and Joseph (Listening and Faith) and Jesus (The Reason for it All).

For this Sunday, Advent 1 – December 2nd, we will take a look at the rulers of zero AD: Caesar Augustus, Quirinius, and Herod the Great.  Why does Luke even mention these people?  Could it be that Luke is setting up a ‘Tale of Two Kingdoms’?  Luke is a very detailed writer and includes names and places for a definite reason.  It probably has something to do with the main themes of his Gospel: The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (and save what was lost..). and Today, a Savior is born to you, he is Christ the Lord! 

See you Sunday!
Pastor Mark

Hike to the Star this coming Saturday, December 1st, meet at church at 5:30pm!