Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Feet Fitted for the Gospel of Peace

New Message Series: Suit Up! The Armor of God, Ephesians 6


Message
The Armor of God: Feet Fitted for the Gospel of Peace
Ephesians 6:15


Sunday, January 23rd, we focus on the phrase, ‘stand firm then with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace’ from Ephesians 6:15.  What does this mean?  Where can this ‘piece (peace)’ of armor be found?  What does it look like to have ‘feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace’?  

The Apostle Paul and Scripture as a whole, give us many clues as to what that can mean, where it is found, and what it looks like.  Here’s a few ideas to ponder for preparation of the heart for Sunday’s message: How does engaging, making ready, fitting our feet, with the ‘gospel of peace’ address worry, anxiety, and fear?  


How does the gospel of peace address worry, anxiety, and fear?


 How does engaging, making ready, fitting our feet, with the ‘gospel of peace’ address temptation and trial?  How does engaging, making ready, fitting our feet, with the ‘gospel of peace’ address the ways we engage others?     

See you Sunday, 
Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Shield of Fatih

New Message Series: Suit Up! The Armor of God, Ephesians 6

Message
The Armor of God: Shield of Faith
Ephesians 6:16


As families continue to sort through the shock of losing your home and the deep grief and displacement that brings, our prayers continue to rise for all impacted.  There is now a page on our website for ways of engagement.  This page will be updated with other opportunities to engage as further connections are made with other churches and agencies.  Currently we are in contact with World Renew, Volunteers in Action, other churches and local organizations.   

In about 8 weeks, most of the state and national emergency response groups will be withdrawing, and the longer recovery phase will kick in and continue for an estimated 1-2 years.  May God give the endurance, perseverance, and resilience to all families, businesses, and city governments affected as these transitions unfold.  

We have been experiencing the truth of God in the armor of God.  The readings this week in the Read Through the Bible in 3 years brought out a theme of the Armor of God – FAITH.  

  • Genesis 12-18: Faith of Abraham and God covenanting to be his ‘shield.’
  • John 6: “I am the bread of life, the one who believes has eternal life.”
  • Proverbs 3 speaks of wisdom.  Yet, it sounds synonymous with faith, “Trust in the Lord… long life in her right hand… a tree of life to all who take hold of her.”
  • And the Psalm for the week: 37, “Hope in the Lord and you will inherit the land… God is our stronghold in the time of trouble for all who take refuge in him.”

This all sounds like a holy-human weave of FAITH.  


This sounds like a holy-human weave of FAITH.


 So, I am calling an audible.  The iron is hot, this week’s Spirit directed theme of the armor of God is going to be The Shield of Faith – Extinguishing the Flaming Arrows of the evil one from Ephesians 6:10-20.  

Sunday we will celebrate communion,
   Shalom!
      Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Breastplate of Righteousness

New Message Series: Suit Up! The Armor of God, Ephesians 6


Message
The Armor of God: The Breastplate of Righteousness
Ephesians 6:14


Crestview family,
As a new calendar year unfolds, we begin in Ephesians 6:10-20, The Armor of God, and a renewed call to be in the WORD with regularity and faithfulness.  It’s good to be reminded that we live in a world of physicality and spirituality.  And Jesus is the LORD of both.  And Jesus brings them together in perfect wholeness.  For the follower of Christ, ‘putting on Christ’ in the ways of God’s Word, Spirit, Truth, Righteousness, Faithfulness, and Gospel readiness is to be a daily engagement – the pathway of our life.  


‘Putting on Christ’ in the ways of God’s Word is the pathway of our life.


  Been reflecting on the rich interwoven truth of God from New Testament to Old Testament, to the New again.  Captured particularly this week by the phrase from Psalm 29, the Psalm of the week, “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood… gives strength to his people; blesses his people with peace.”  In light of the recent fire, at the beginning of a new calendar year, this gives hope and strengthens trust in God.  It’s fascinating to be reading this week in the Read Through the Bible schedule (3 years), the connections between Psalm 24, John 4 (Samaritan woman at the well), and the flood narrative of Genesis 6-9.  Makes these verses from Proverbs 2:20-3:6 for this week more poignant: “You will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.  For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.  My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and others.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”   

More Armor of God for Sunday… When it comes to putting on the ‘breastplate of righteousness’, what does this mean?  How does this look? Who is righteous and how is righteousness defined?  Where can it be found?  How can I get this piece of armor that protects my heart and wear it?      

Good news… see you Sunday,  Ephesians 6:10-20.  

In Jesus,
   Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Belt of Truth

New Message Series: Suit Up! The Armor of God, Ephesians 6


Message
The Armor of God: The Belt of Truth
Ephesians 6: 10-14


Crestview Family,

God’s peace, grace, power, and strength be given to you!  As we look to a new year, the 3 year Read through the Bible has been a rich experience.  The parallel relationship between the early chapters of Genesis and the early verses of John have been beautiful to see.  The wisdom of Solomon’s Proverbs give powerful revelation and insight into the human condition, sin’s devastation, our needs for God’s salvation and Spirit’s leading, and reveals early on in it’s introductory chapters, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  And having a Psalm (24) of focus for the week brings God’s truth home with a daily heartbeat: The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it… Who can stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.  He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.  Such is the generation of those who seek Him.  Wisdom, salvation, goodness, calling – all come together. 

Before we get too far into this 3 Year Read Through The Bible plan, will you join us?  Still time to easily catch up, only 1 week into the readings so far.  I plan to engage this reading plan in our weekly worship experiences as we journey through Scripture with readings and reflections.  As we begin our kickoff message series of 2022, Suit Up!  Put On The Armor of God, the Apostle Paul gives us wisdom in living a full life in the Holy Spirit.  God calls us to daily put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, to take up the sword of the Spirit.  

In a world where spiritual darkness and light war with one another, God calls us to be set apart, prepared, ready for engagement and engaged – whether entering God’s rest, resisting temptation, or engaging in battle.  God calls us to suit up!  


God calls us to suit up!


Text for the next 6 weeks will focus on Ephesians 6:10-20.   

In Jesus name,
     Pastor Mark           

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Give Thanks! Bowing Down in Worship

Message
Christmas Eve: Giving Thanks! Bowing Down in Worship

Psalm 95


Good Morning Crestview family,

Anticipation.  Years of anticipation, hundreds of years.  God’s people seeking SHALOM.  Longing for it.  Striving for it.  

As Christmas 2022 is arriving soon, may the God of all peace, lift your heart toward heaven.  


As Christmas 2022 is arriving soon, may the God of all peace, lift your heart toward heaven.


May the Creator and Bringer of SHALOM, give you peace.  

When prayers for ‘peace on earth and good will toward others’ seem to hit a brick wall, Jesus came.  Was born, lived, died, and rose again.  He brings peace and undeserved good will.  And we are invited to receive Him and his peace.  

Looking forward to our worship together on Christmas Eve.  See you Friday, at 4:00pm, as anticipation gives way to Jesus coming.  The Lord, our God, be with you, and the peace of God be upon you and his light fills you and causes you to shine.  Come ready to share your favorite sentence from the Book of Isaiah

Also, you are invited to join Deone and I, in a Read Through the Bible in 3 years!  Attached is the link to the reading schedule.  It begins December 26th!  Peace!  

In Him, so be it, ‘AMEN!’

Pastor Mark  

PS – No corporate worship on Sunday, December 26th.  See you in the New Year, January 2nd!  We will begin the New Year in Ephesians 6, The Armor of God.

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Advent 4: Gratitude- Prayer: Out of the Heart

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!

Message
Advent 4: Feasting on the Heidelberger:
Gratitude – Prayer: Out of the Heart
LD 45-52


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 45-52 PDF

 Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This Advent Sunday (4th/4),  we complete our Heidelberg Catechism series with Prayer.  For four weeks now, Gratitude has been the theme of the Catechism.  Surprise, surprise – Gratitude is at the heart of the Gospel.  


Surprise, surprise – Gratitude is at the heart of the Gospel


How can we show and grow gratitude in our lives in response to the gift of salvation?  By engaging the keys to God’s Kingdom, God’s Word and discipleship, by loving God, others, and self, and… a life of continual prayer

Prayer grounds us in relationship with God.  Prayer grounds us in truth and honesty.  In prayer, we are known and we gain knowledge of God’s will for us.  In prayer, we thank God and ask God for what we need.  In prayer, we bring before God the needs of others.  In prayer, we seek God’s will to be done, and kingdom come, ask for daily bread, forgiveness from God and a spirit of forgiveness toward others/self, and seek freedom from the temptations’ snare and the deceptions of the evil one.  Sound familiar?  This is how Jesus teaches us we ought to pray.  

Looking forward to Advent #4, 2021 and a Christmas Eve service to follow Friday, December 24th, 4:00pm.  It’s fitting, for such a time as this, to be led to gratitude.  And to pray for ‘God’s Kingdom come and will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’  Thanking God and Asking God in everything, for everything.    

Pastor Mark   

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Advent 3: Gratitude – Loving Yourself, Loving Others

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!

Message
Advent 3: Feasting on the Heidelberger:
Gratitude – Loving Yourself, Loving Others
LD 39-44


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 39-44 PDF

The tale of two kingdoms is very real.  Ever wonder why every good story, every movie, every worldview, every religion seems to have a theme of good and evil, light and darkness, yin and yang, pro and con, filled with ‘cosmic dualities’?  Scripture identifies this reality in terms of light and darkness, finding their power in God or in something other than God, by defining them in terms of a ‘Kingdom of God’ and a ‘Kingdom of this World’.  

A Biblical Worldview sees our existence and reality through the lens of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation.  It all begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth and all there is, including humanity, out of God’s being, goodness, love, and joy.  All is as it should be.  The Kingdom of God being the kingdom of this world.  It was very good.  

But then, something happened.  A deception and lie was spoken to humanity and humanity willingly believed the lie.  And through disobedience, another kingdom was birthed into existence.  It was a lawlessness of large proportion with epic ramifications.  Like a stone thrown into a pond long ago, the ripples of destruction continue to flow.  

Into the chaos of the resulting brokenness and pain, Jesus came.  A shaft of light in the darkness.  A shot at redemption and God’s kingdom come.  God himself acted, in Jesus the Son, a faithfulness of large proportion with epic ramifications, opening the door for the Kingdom of God to reign.  Salvation, redemption, the restoration of shalom, a Savior.

And now, today, we are invited into God’s plan of God’s Kingdom to come and his Kingdom come.  It’s an invitation of grace (undeserved/unearned) and love (undeserved/unearned) and power (through a death and resurrection).  By way of Jesus and our entering in.    


It’s an invitation of grace and love and power.


Yet, we experience the ongoing reality of two kingdoms, one of light and one of darkness.  What are we to do?  Scripture leads us in response to God’s great salvation and redemption with a call to gratitude.  The Heidelberg Catechism spells out this response of gratitude by pointing us to ‘true faith’, evidenced in ‘gratitude’, by way of ‘repentance and conversion’, as we engage in obedience to God’s law. Instead of ‘lawlessness’, we now engage in the love and power of Jesus in a life of obedience of word, thought, and deed, of loving God and loving others and loving self as it should be, could be, and one day, completely will be.  This is not a response of heavy handed ‘have to’, rather, a response of ‘gratitude’ of ‘get to… want to.’    

Do not doubt God’s plan, his Kingdom will one day, someday soon, be all in all.  And in the ‘already, but not yet’ in between times, we have a calling by God, to fulfill and enter into.  In and through Jesus, a much larger stone has been thrown into the pond.  And the much larger ripples of redemption are, and will overtake, and cover over, every broken corner of our world.  At the same time, do not be deceived. The kingdom of this world and it’s ruler seek to fight God’s ‘kingdom come’ tooth and nail, kicking and screaming, seeking to destroy all it can, knowing it’s certain demise.  

Last week, we saw God’s calling for us in obedience to loving him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength: shun all idolatry, acknowledge God alone, worship God in spirit and in truth, revere God’s name, and honor Sabbath.  These are ways we can shine in the midst of darkness (gratitude!).  There is more in God’s calling: honoring parents, shun murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting (gratitude!). To engage in this calling shines light in the darkness and in engaging, we see God’s kingdom come.  And even though these commands of love given to us by God long ago, built into the very fabric and laws of the created order for humanity and the universe, seem to come to us in a ‘do not’ expression – they are ‘filled to the gills’ with positive inertia and thrills. 

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.  On those walking in darkness, a light has dawned.”  Isaiah 9:2.  Sunday the challenge went out to read the entire book of Isaiah before Christmas Eve worship service.  You can do it!  Listen for God to speak a single phrase of meaning and beauty and truth to you.  And be ready to bear witness to it on Christmas Eve by simply quoting this line of special meaning from Isaiah for the worship of God and the edification of us all.  

Sunday, we plan to visit Jesus on Colfax from 4-6pm.  All aboard, don’t forget to register.  
REGISTER HERE
See you at church at 3:00pm to carpool or see you down there if you choose to drive yourself. 

Peace!
Pastor Mark   

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Advent 2: Gratitude-Loving God

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!

Message
Advent 2: Feasting on the Heidelberger: Gratitude – Loving God
LD 34-38


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 34-38 PDF

It’s Advent week two, 2021!  “…on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned!” (Isaiah 9:2) Sunday, we continue to tie together the theme of GRATITUDE in the Heidelberg Catechism into Advent, as we turn our eyes to loving God, one another, and self.  One of the primary ways we express gratitude for the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ is by reciprocating love for God.  How do we do that?  God spells it out for us in Scripture with the 1st table of the Law (10 commandments), it’s plain for all to see. Sunday, we will dive in, listening and discerning what God says about it all.  

Speaking of diving into God’s grace, we will be celebrating the profession of faith and baptism of Eric Armitage either this Sunday, December 5th.  That’s right, we will celebrate God’s grace and love with Eric in this step of faith.  So, after worship this Sunday, we will carpool/car train over to the reservoir near Cherryvale and Baseline to baptize Eric.  So, break out the wet suits… and the laughter and joy.  God is good.     


So, break out the wet suits… and the laughter and joy. God is good.


Couple other things of note: If you would like to go to Jesus on Colfax on December 12th, from 4-6pm for a BBQ dinner and see what it’s all about.
REGISTER HERE
And join us in supporting Marisol Health and it’s partnership with families and children this holiday season.  Inquire with Luke Fowler and the Deacons if you need more information.  We have some families to bless this holiday season in gift giving and prayer.  And when the requests for gifts are filled, I’m sure financial donations would be appreciated.   

And… this month of December, we have special giving to each and every one of our supported missionaries.  Join in the blessing.  Tis’ the season for GRATITUDE and for GIVING and for sharing LOVE.  

In Jesus name,
    Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Advent 1: Gratitude – The Keys of the Kingdom: Why the Concern? Why do Good?

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!

Message
Advent 1: Gratitude –
The Keys of the Kingdom: Why the Concern? Why do Good?

LD 31-33


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 31-33 PDF

As you enter Thanksgiving week, with a break from work rhythm, school schedule, and engage in possible family/friend gatherings – give thanks with a grateful heart.  Take this opportunity to truly give thanks to God.  


Take this opportunity to truly give thanks to God


It’s easy to complain.  The hard thing is to give thanks.  In a culture that seems to be increasingly pointing the finger of blame and ridicule, be a presence of God’s grace.  In the face of discouragement and fear, give thanks to God from whom all blessings flow.     

This Sunday, following Thanksgiving, we begin Advent 2021, and begin a 4 week journey into the final section of the catechism: The Keys of the Kingdom (Gospel and Discipleship), 10 Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer.  This entire section fits under the heading of Grace/Gratitude.  A good place to be when it comes to Thanksgiving and  Advent anticipation of the birth of the Savior of the World.  

May God be noticeably present in your ‘Thanksgivings’.  May the God of all grace, grace your Thanksgiving breaks and gatherings with gratitude.  The Lord bless you and keep you, see you Sunday,
 

Be ye thankful,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Sacraments: Signs, Seals, Gifts of Sheer Grace

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!

Message
The Sacraments: Signs, Seals, Gifts of Sheer Grace

LD 24-30


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 24-30 PDF

As human beings, we engage in ‘sacramental’ activities without even realizing it.  We tend to memorialize significant events in our lives… we form sentimental feelings and memories around people and places.  For example, Deone and I, for years, would go to a place called Glen Arbor in the state of Michigan.  It’s a sleepy tourist town in lower Northern Michigan where sand dunes, pristine woods, and crystal clear rivers abound.  It’s a place we went on our honeymoon, and have returned too many times.  It’s something we had always looked forward to in our yearly rhythm, as every fall, when the air turns crisp, and the leaves turn brilliant colors, Deone and I would escape the daily routine of work, school, raising our kids each fall and run away to Glen Arbor together and focus on enjoying one another intentionally, more intimately.  

It’s a celebration of our marriage wrapped up in an event with all kinds of good memories attached to it that continue to shape our relationship in the present, and into the future.  So why get all ‘sappy’ in a weekly church email?  

This Sunday, we will focus on ‘sacraments.’  Sacraments are ceremonies, practices, that embody the truth of an intimate relationship with God.  


Sacraments are ceremonies, practices, that embody the truth of an intimate relationship with God.


They represent and embody God’s sharing of his divine grace with us.  It represents particular importance and significance.  In the Christian church, we celebrate two important and significant sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

We do not celebrate these sacraments in a vacuum where they become mostly memorialized.  We celebrate these sacraments in the journey of life and relationship with God that is ongoing, remembering the past, celebrating the present, and hopeful about the future.  They celebrate who we are and whose we are in Jesus Christ.  ‘Whose’ is defined as belonging to a particular someone, in the case of the sacraments, that someone is God.  The sacraments celebrate our longing for God and our belonging to a family: the family of God.  In Baptism, we are ‘reborn’ into God’s family.  In the Lord’s Supper, we share God’s grace and mercy together as God’s family.        

Sunday we will revel in God’s divine grace in the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper – ‘signs and seals‘ of God’s love and grace.  It’s a fitting time to celebrate our Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in remembering the past, the shaping of our present, and our hope for the future.  So who are you?  Whose are you?  To what, how, and why do you belong?  Come, taste and see, the Lord our God is good.  The message will conclude with such a time of remembering and celebrating – see you Sunday!    

In Jesus name, Shalom and Amen.
   Pastor Mark