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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 2, 7th Command: Fearing God in a Permissive World

Hey people!  This week things get easier as we move from the 6th commandment Do not kill to the 7th commandment Do not commit adultery.  Hmmmm…. not true.  The scope of this commandment (Sexuality) and the issues surrounding it have huge implications for our living together.  Easier?  No.  Relevant?  Yes.       

Once again, God places gracious boundaries around the wonderful gift of sexuality for our flourishing.  We will explore together the implications of this command this coming Sunday.

Read 1 Corinthians 6:13-18 in preparation for this message.  What does it mean that ‘our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?’  And what are the implications for our expressions and enjoyment of sexuality in light of that statement by the Apostle Paul?  

Today in our culture (we) are hyper sexualized and are surrounded by an ‘anything goes’ mentality of sexual expression.  And pornography is becoming one of the most prolific and distorting forces in destroying in relationships.    

What is God calling us to be and do in the midst of our culture that sets us apart from the people’s around us?  Just like the context of ancient Israel, God calls us to be holy and a shining light in the midst of such cultural forces.  

Lets dive in again Sunday – real issues in real time for real people,
Peace in Jesus name,

Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

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

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

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

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

First 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