Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Cultivating Goodness in the Midst of Self-Help

Cultivate!  A mandate given by God from the very beginning of time.  Cultivate!  As we are walking through the Fruit of the Spirit together God calls us to cultivate!  We began with Peace, then Patience, and last week, Kindness.  This week its Goodness.  What is good?  Jesus says, “Only God is good.”  Instructive, but what does that mean for us?  So this is what happened to me this week: 

Here I am sitting at a fast food restaurant in Lakewood, CO waiting for Deone to show up for an evening fund raiser where a percentage of the proceeds from the evening sales will benefit Bethany, the organization Deone works for.  

I’m here early because I was in the area for some other meetings.  As I look around, I’m noticing much diversity from race to socioeconomic (appears to be.)  I’m sitting at a high table and next to me is a women pouring over a well worn Bible with various restaurant drinks around her.  We are both minding our own business. 

After a few minutes she reaches out to me and says, “Would you like something to eat?” I said, “I would.  I’m waiting for my wife to come, but yes, I sure do!  Can’t wait to order up a chicken sandwich!”  She then offers me a gift card with $23 on it.  She said, “Someone gave it to me – I’m giving it to you.”

I recognized this ‘random’ act of kindness instantly after last weeks sermon and smiled widely, both inside and outside.  I said, “Really?  You can keep it if you like or need it.”  And she again offered it to me, wanting me to have it.  I gladly thanked her and accepted it.  Then I remembered my own words from Sunday, random kindness is nice, but intentional relationship that meets the deep need of another is what kindness is all about.  

We talked some more and I found out she has been in and out of the hospital with severe frostbite on her feet.  Even now, she has open toe’d (what’s left of them – mostly stubs) orthopedic shoes to air out the open sores.  Since the weather was so bad yesterday and today, she was in the hospital again, and now recently released.  She spends her time mostly outside and on the street and iin and out of hospitals as needed.  

Think about it – she is living on the street, was given a gift card with much needed money remaining for meals for the future, and she gave it to me.  What a delightful gift of grace and a stunning example of the love of God she gave to me.  We spent about an hour together talking… and as I received kindness from her through a gift card and wonderful conversation, my heart was flooded with gratitude.

She loves the mountains, especially around Morrison where she spends most of her days.  That’s right sleeping in the mountains, wandering the streets, her daily needs stashed away in the mountains.  She was heading back to Morrison yet tonight.  I asked her if she was going to be OK – anything she needs?”  And she said, “I have everything I need.  God is taking care of me.”  We both were thankful for the connection we could have for an hour.  Probably met a deep need in both of us.  

Kindness and Goodness are so closely intertwined – quite inseparable.  She was a Bible reader.  Knew much and communicated God’s truth beautifully.  The display of her goodness and kindness was unexpected and super instructive.  We blessed each other in God’s name as we parted ways.  May God continue to provide everything she needs and for me as well – the deepest needs of our soul, everything for life. 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Cultivating Kindness in the Midst of Self Sufficiency

Peace, Patience and on to Kindness.  Kindness is an interesting word.  It seems very mellow… almost bland.  Kinda like when someone asks you do describe someone you love and the response is, “He or she is nice.”     Nice or kind are words that can lack passion.  Kindness seems so everyday…  
Remember the popularity a few years ago of a billboard/bumper sticker blitz, Practice Random Acts of Kindness.  It was a trendy statement – a faddish slogan.  A well grossing film was produced based on this idea, Pay it Forward.  It was a good movie.  It made people think about kindness and motivated people to ‘practice random acts of kindness.’  For example, stop and help someone change a tire or pay for someone’s meal behind you in the drive through. Yet, it seemed to fade away after awhile – as what was ‘cool’ – cooled.    

Just this past week, Deone and I experienced a random act of kindness… it was graduation weekend at CU and Friday night downtown restaurants were packed with families celebrating.  We drove in on the street that bisects pearl street near the Brewing Market where there are about 6-10 spaces there, and right in front of us, a person pulled out and we pulled in.  5:00pm – I walk over to the kiosk to pay for parking and stuffed into the ticket dispenser was a ticket.  I pulled it out and it had parking covered on it through 7:01pm.  After 7:00pm its free.  Our parking for our Friday date was covered!  It made us smile and set our feet a dancing as we walked to dinner.  

Random acts of kindness are beautiful expressions.  They are very ‘nice.’  Yet, what God encourages us to do is to make kindness a lifestyle.  And you know who needs our kindness more than anyone?  Those who are closest to us.  Those who know us best.  Those who have the potential to annoy, aggravate, and disappoint us.  To cultivate a life of kindness is to be like God.  Title of Sunday’s message: Cultivating Kindness in the Midst of Self Sufficiency.  (Hosea 11:3-4 and Luke 6:33-36)  More to come on Sunday – see you soon!

Sunday is Graduation Sunday!  We celebrate our graduates Damaris Huffaker, Tilden Huffaker, Brooks Knight, Jake Nienhouse, Chase Rietema, Elly Scheeres, Sam Cuthbertson and Sybil Danita Quaye.  Time to celebrate!

(Recognition during worship service and celebration afterwards.)

Living life in Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit,

Pastor Mark

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Cultivating Patience in the Midst of Productivity

The journey has begun: The Fruit of the Spirit.  We began with PEACE last Sunday and this week, it’s PATIENCE!  So start praying now that God will give you patience (careful what you ask for!)  

Patience and Peace are closely related.  As with peace, patience springs from a deep well within our spirit and is found in the source of patience – God.  

Romans 8 describes an interesting dilemma we face daily, ‘we groan inwardly’ as we wait patiently for God’s work to be done in the world and in and through us.  This requires patience, as God’s timing doesn’t always seem to be in step with our desired and ‘needed’ timing.  

Our culture is increasingly undermining the fruit of patience.  Time seems tyrannous and constraining – not enough of it and its moving to fast.  Demands and expectations from outside bombard us, not to mention the internal demands and expectations we put on ourselves. 

What’s the cure?  What is the remedy?  We will get to that on Sunday.  First thing first, we need to understand who God is – his character and nature.  When it comes to patience, we have been created in God’s image and God is amazingly patient.  God does not view time as we view it – God is timeless and can operate just fine inside or outside of time.  A day is like a thousand years to God and a thousand years like a day.  

In preparation for Sunday’s message on Cultivating Patience in the Midst of Productivity, read Romans 8:22-25 and James 5:7-11.  We will touch on concepts of Sabbath practice, God’s sovereignty, and what it might look like to ‘slow down’ a bit in order to cultivate patience.  

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Cultivating Patience in the Midst of Productivity

Peace.  The peace of God and the God of peace be with you.  Shalom.

Shalom speaks of a completeness – a wholeness of body, mind, and spirit.  Things are as they are supposed to be.  It is a spoken blessing in the Jewish faith that has been passed on from generation to generation.  Peace, in the Christian faith, an extension of the Jewish faith, is a ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit at work in us.  To say ‘Shalom’ to another is to say ‘may your life and person be willed with well-being.’  

Shalom doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of war or conflict.  It does mean, that in midst of circumstances and conflict, one has a sense of peace.  That in the midst of difficulties where ‘things are not as they are supposed to be’ there is a sense of deep and profound well being.  I can’t imagine having this kind of peace in the midst of difficulties and conflicts without Jesus.  

Paul teaches us in the book of Galatians that peace is a fruit of the Spirit.  The action of the Holy Spirit in our lives produces a shalom in us and produces the action of shalom in our dealings with others.  Scripture is filled with urgings to live a life of shalom one to another.  A past TQ (Test of the Quarter) of ours expounded on this very truth: “Rejoice!  Be gentle.  Do not be anxious.  Offer your prayers and petitions to God… and the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4)  James also touches on peace.  “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, sincere and impartial.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3)  And Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be (are) children (sons and daughters) of God.”  

Here is an assignment for Sunday you will enjoy.  Look up Galatians 5 in The Message by Eugene Peterson.  Its at your internet fingertips.  Read the entire chapter.  I think it is a well done interpretive paraphrase of Paul’s words to us.  See you Sunday!  And… Shalom!   Title of our message for Sunday: Cultivating Peace in the Midst of Fragmentation.  

In Him,
Pastor Mark

Men’s Moab Retreat, 2019

PS: Ask anyone who went to Moab this year for Men’s Retreat about their experience – it was a good year together!
PSS: Work Day at Crestview Saturday May 11th, 9:00am to 12:00pm.  Be there or be square.  Be there if you dare.  Or if your not there, you will be somewhere.                      

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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