Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

This Is Living!: Imitating Christ

Philippians is rocking my world.  In the third week of reading through Philippians in its entirety in one sitting, here is what is striking me.  Paul repeats a theme throughout the book by saying the same thing in different ways: I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  (3:10)  Check out these verses too: 1:6, 1:28, 2:1, 2:13, 3:10, and 3:16.

The concept of ‘taking hold of the salvation we have received’ fascinates me.  I love this teaching by Paul because it confirms and affirms our created and called purpose in salvation to bring glory to God.

The big question for this Sunday is to answer the question: What does ‘working out your salvation’ look like?  How does ‘grabbing hold of heaven and pulling’ take on real meaning in our words and actions?

Paul reveals a powerful first way to live this out in Philippians 2:1-11.  Read it and ask yourself What is the main way I can grab hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me?  Clue: it rhymes with ‘you millipede.’  🙂

See you Sunday,
Happy Father’s Day early!

Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

This Is Living!: A Worthy Life

For a couple weeks now we have talked about created purpose and calling.  In Paul’s letter to the Philippian church he repeatedly calls them to a life ‘worthy of the gospel’.   The salvation we receive from God is a gift of grace.  And we respond to God’s salvation in gratitude by living a life ‘worthy of the gospel.’  Paul says in our text for Sunday, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.” (1:27)

This life ‘worthy of the gospel’ is for anytime and in anyplace under any circumstance.  It’s never too late to embrace and engage God’s salvation in Jesus Christ and live the life of the Spirit.  You could say God makes us worthy to live a worthy life.

There is a song by an artist I like with great lyrics: Wandering the road of desperate life.
Aimlessly beneath a barren sky…  So afraid that you will not be found.  It won’t be long before your sun goes down…  A troubled mind and a doubter’s heart.  You wonder how you ever got this far… Vultures of darkness ate the crumbs you left.  You got no way to retrace your steps…  Just leave it to me – I’ll lead you home… Hear me calling
This life ‘worthy of the gospel’ is for anytime (the time is now) and in anyplace (this is the place) under any circumstance (matters not where you find yourself.) God is calling us to his created purpose.
What does a life worthy of the gospel look like?  Let’s take a look at it together as we study the book of Philippians this summer.  See you Sunday!  We will be participating in communion together. Summer BBQ’s kickoff this next Wed!

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

This Is Living: In Chains and It’s Good


Here we go!  Summer Scripture and Neighboring Challenge!

Summer Scripture Challenge: As we study the Book of Philippians through June/July, make this book a part of your summer life.  Read it through, in one sitting, once a week, for the next 9 weeks.  This is not too much, in fact, when you complete this challenge, it may seem too little!  It takes little time (20-30 minutes?) and will bring much blessing to your summer.  Each week I will be taking a few verses from one of the four chapters to bring the weekly message.  The title of our summer series will be: This is Living!

Summer Neighboring Challenge: Summer is a time of changing life rhythms with vacations, no school, day and weekend getaways, outdoor fun, etc.  Don’t let the summer go by without intentionally engaging your neighbors.  Here is your challenge: Plan one intentional neighboring connection once a month.  Be creative, get outdoors, share a meal, host a party, invite someone for a walk/hike, whatever it is – just do something!  Instead of making our summer ‘all about me (us)’, intentionally build a friendship with your neighbor (s).

This Sunday, June 3rd, we dive into our summer message series from Philippians beginning with 1:1-26.  From the opening to the closing of this Scripture book, it reads like a letter.  After the opening greeting (1:1-2) and word of thanksgiving (1:3-8), Paul opens with a powerful prayer (1:9-11).  This prayer is my summer prayer for all of us and is our new TQ (Text of the Quarter) for June/July, “This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”

How profound is the love of Christ and how does this love transform our living?  Read on in Philippians… see you Sunday!  “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:24

Summer BBQ kicks off soon, Wednesday, June 13th!

Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Gifts of the Spirit: Equipped For Service

Gearing up for a big weekend in Boulder!   Deone, Morgan and I are participating in the Bolder Boulder this year!  But first, looking forward to Sunday – that comes first!

This Sunday, we introduce our summer series This is Living! from the book of Philippians.  I want to begin with an introduction to the gifting of the Holy Spirit.  God has given to every follower of Christ gifts that are useful for the building of His kingdom and for the building up of His church.  There are many online tests that can be taken to discern and identify what gifts of the Holy Spirit have been given to you.

The beauty of the church is that it is made up of many different people, yet, it is one in Christ.  Just as each part of the body has many different parts with many different functions, yet, all come together to form one body – so too, the church is made of many different people with different gifts, yet, together we form one body, God’s church.  As an introduction to the gifting of the Holy Spirit, I will focus on Ephesians 4:1-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-31.  Does every Christian have the same spiritual gifts?  Are all the spiritual gifts the same in value and merit?  What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit anyway?  And how do your gifts fit in the big picture of God growing his church and kingdom through you?

Here is an online Spiritual Gift Inventory Test.  http://giftstest.com/  Have at it!  Discover your gifts!  When you have identified your gifts, lean into them in the way that you love people.  It’s your gift from God to the world and to his church.

Strap on your seatbelt, in June and July we dive into Philippians.  Summer Scripture Challenge: I want to challenge each member of Crestview Church to read the Book of Philippians in one sitting, once a week, through June and July (9 weeks).  Here is my hope: Philippians will be a part of your heart, soul, and mind.  I think it would take 1/2 hour, once a week to do this.  While you read, take note of what strikes you, what you notice, and what captures your attention.

Lets dive into summer together,

Have a blessed Memorial Day weekend, be safe and engage in God’s will for your life!  Thank you God for the blessings you have showered on us of life and freedom,

Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Welcome Adie Johnson!

Welcome Adie Johnson!

Adie continues our series on the Holy Spirit by looking at the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer.  The text of emphasis will be Romans 8:18-30.  This is a powerful text where Paul waxes eloquent about the hope we have in Jesus.

Paul speaks about the reality we live in, here and now – a world where there are signs of bondage and decay while at the same time the redemption of Christ has come and the signs and hope of the renewal of all things are underway.

So what are we to do with the frustrations and hardships we and others experience on a daily basis?  Paul gives us wonderful instruction and encouragement to deal with these things.  Its wrapped up in the gift and work of the Holy Spirit, thank you Jesus!

As you read Romans 8:18-30 in preparation for Sunday, ask yourself, what is the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer?  See you Sunday at Crestview.

As I write this, we just arrived in Michigan for Morgan’s graduation as a registered nurse from Calvin College.  Two down, one to go!  See you all soon,

Pastor Mark

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Now This Is Church!

Is my life and your life questionable?  Are the ways that we are living cause others to question us?  I’m not hinting at, ‘Are our lives questionable?’ in a negative or sinful way.  I’m asking the question in terms of discipleship (growing in our knowledge, experience, and expression of being a follower of Christ) and evangelism (being a personal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ).

Are our lives questionable?  Do the things we do and say cause others to ‘question’ the way we live?  In other words, does our life cause others to wonder about the why and how behind our living, specifically, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives in giving witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Sunday, May 13th, we look at the life of the early church (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37).  How did it express itself in individuals, in the early church community, and in their witness to the world of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

What kind of life will evoke questions in others about the how and why of our living?  What kind of life lived individually in faith and communally as a faith community would stimulate opportunity for personal and communal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Sunday will be a day of feasting and fellowship.  We will recognize our graduates and celebrate what God is doing through the life and testimony of Margaret Njuguna and Engedi Children’s Home in Kenya.  See you Sunday!

In Jesus Name,
Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Pentecost: What Does It Mean?

Who is the Holy Spirit?  How would you describe the
Spirit’s person, personality, and work?  This would be a good thing for each of us to explore and grow in our knowledge and experience.

Out of each person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the least known and referenced in the everyday life and experience of Christians.  God the Father is referenced often in the sense of generalities of prayers and conversations as being the One True God and as Creator.  Jesus is the most well known and referenced person of the Trinity, for good reason.  We can understand Jesus as he became a human person, one with us in this way.

But what about the Holy Spirit?  Its already been emphasized in our recent messages that the Holy Spirit is the activator and animator of breath and life.  The Holy Spirit is described as wind and breath and fire.  The Holy Spirit is the one who is the PRESENCE, POWER, and PURPOSE of God at work in and around us.

This Sunday, we look together at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41.)  As you read this account of Pentecost, take note of the fulfillment of Scripture from Joel 2:28-32 and Psalm 16:8-11.  What are the gifts of the Spirit?  How do we know that the Holy Spirit has come, is active and alive and at work in and around us?

See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

The Holy Spirit’s nature and role … the antidote to long-distance relationship with God


Welcome Paul Holmberg!  This Sunday while many men are on retreat in Moab Utah, Paul steps in to continue our series on the Holy Spirit.  We are at a critical point in God’s story where Jesus has ascended into heaven and the disciples are waiting for the promised Holy Spirit.  The conversations between the disciples in the days between Jesus ascension into heaven and the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost must have been fascinating.

I believe they would be talking much among themselves about why Jesus must leave them and send another (Holy Spirit).  Paul will take a look back at Jesus words about his leaving and remind us why it had to be this way (The Book of John, Chapter 12 and 14).  At least a couple of reasons why.

Thank you Paul for stepping in and opening up God’s word for us.  Another reminder, this is Nzambi and Jumoke’s last Sunday with us in worship as they will soon be returning to their home countries of Kenya and Nigeria.  Give them a warm hug and bless them on their way!

On another note, the timing of the men’s retreat in Moab couldn’t have come at a better time.  Over the past couple of weeks my spirit has felt dry and in need of some rejuvenation.  Looks like 80 degree sunny days in Moab.  Nothing like miles of single track on an MTB with friends in one of the most God glorifying landscapes on planet earth to bring one’s soul back into focus.

See you on the other side,

Pastor Mark

 

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Jesus’ Ascension: What Does It Mean?


The disciples are trying to put it all together: Jesus died, raised to life again, and now what?  Jesus tells them to stay in Jerusalem until he sends them the Holy Spirit.  And then something very unusual happens.  After this promise to send the Holy Spirit, he ‘ascends’ into the clouds.

Read the end of the Gospel of Luke (24:36-53) and the beginning of the Book of Acts (1:1-11).  Its believed that the disciple Luke wrote both of these Biblical books.  He writes in Acts 1:4, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”  And then he was “taken up before their eyes.”

What does Jesus ascension into heaven mean?  Why did Jesus leave the disciples again?  What was God’s master plan in all of this?  I suspect the answer is in Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Somehow, someway, Jesus ascension is connected to the sending of his Holy Spirit in fulfilling God’s purpose for the world through his people, the church.  Lots to unpack here.  Is Jesus ‘outta here’? Or is he just getting started!  Jesus Ascension: What does it mean?  Luke 24:36-53 and Acts 1:1-11

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Peter Restored: This is what it looks like!

Blog banner with the image of a highway and the word: "Journey" for the study of the Book of Matthew.
Peter.  What is Peter thinking?  What is he feeling and experiencing after his denial of Jesus during his crucifixion, and now that Jesus is alive, risen?  I can only imagine his guilt and shame.

Jesus tells the disciples to go to Galilee and he would meet them there.  And when Jesus invites the disciples to share a breakfast meal of fish and bread I can imagine the mixed feelings and emotions raging inside of Peter.  It would have been difficult for Peter to even make eye contact with Jesus.  As painful memories of his rejection of Jesus flood his heart and mind.

Read this amazing story from the Gospel of John chapter 21.  How does Jesus restore Peter and bring reconciliation to the relationship between them?  What do you notice about the repetition of their conversation?  What affect might this have on Peter?

Shame can be a debilitating reality.  It is probably our most limiting factor in following Jesus effectively and wholeheartedly.  In order for us to love him well, and love others well, we must come face to face with the reality of shame.  It affects all of us in powerfully negative ways, even significant ways we may not fully realize.  Jesus brings the answer to our shame.  He is the one who can free us from shame and release us to engage in an abundant life.

Come Sunday ready to receive the grace of Jesus and to give of yourself to Him,

See you Sunday, Peter Restored: This is what it looks like!  from John 21.  We will be having a second offering this week for Graduate Christian Fellowship on the campus of CU.   
Pastor Mark