Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Testing Faith

Testing of Faith
James 1:1-12

Sunday we dive into the Book of James.  Already this week, James will challenge our common ideas of grace.  We know that ‘it is by grace that we have been saved, through faith – and this is not from ourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.’ (Ephesians 2:4-9) Yet James says, ‘Faith (the receiving of grace) without works is dead.’  How are we to understand this? 

It has been an age-old struggle for people to understand the relationship between ‘grace and works’ when it comes to faith and salvation and the ‘good life.’  It also reveals the struggle we often have with understanding the relationship between the saving work of Jesus Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.  

Among followers of Christ, it has been my experience that each of us tends to swing toward one side of the pendulum between ‘grace and works’ – emphasizing one belief or expression more than the other.  And thus, our dilemma.  If we swing toward grace we are in danger of making ‘grace cheap’ and downplaying the importance of works.  If we swing toward works we are in danger of engaging in a ‘works righteousness.’  

James is not attempting to swing us in either direction, even though it may seem he wants us to swing toward works.  Sometimes he is providing a corrective to cheap grace. Most of the time it is a both/and.  

I’m looking forward to exploring this relationship between grace, faith, and works on Sundaywith you and see if the both/and approach to grace/works doesn’t help us understand James’ challenging words for us.

Sunday we begin, James 1:1-12.  I invite you to engage.  Read the text before Sunday and ask: How can one have joy in the midst of trial and challenge?  How can one ask God for what they need and not doubt?  How does someone in ‘humble circumstances’ take pride in their high position?  How does a rich person take pride in humiliation?  How is it that one can persevere under trial?  

I believe a powerful insight into the answers are connected to our understanding of grace and works.  

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

And So It Begins…The Book Of James

And So It Begins… The Book Of James

Sunday we intro into the Book of James.  It is believed by many that the author of James is Jesus younger brother.  This will add some ‘twists and turns’ for us in imagining how this reality plays out for Jesus younger brother as he becomes a leader in the Jerusalem church after Jesus’ death and resurrection.   James is known by historians as being zealous for righteousness and in his writing he pulls no punches.  He lands his powerful teaching straight to the jaw of believers.  He is known as ‘James the Just.’  So I am going to refer to him as ‘Justy James.’  I’ll explain that one further on Sunday.  

The NIV Study Bible says ‘The Book of James is intensely practical.”  That’s an understatement!  James, at every turn, encourages followers of Jesus to do what the word says, to give evidence of your faith through deeds.  This teaching of James created some trouble for some famous people like Martin Luther.  James’s strong emphasis on ‘Faith without Works is Dead’ messes with people’s understanding of grace.  Whether responding well to trials, praying fervently, controlling our tongues, cultivating wisdom and actions of peace, or using material resources to honor God, James emphasizes that ‘FAITH DOES.’  Strap on your seatbelt as James brings it to us straight.  Then unstrap your seatbelt and get moving – put your faith into action!

Also, notice the picture shown here of notes from last weeks sermon.  Morgan, our middle daughter has been doing this for years already.  As she takes in a message, she draws and takes notes – a live ‘sermon illustrator.’  I will share these from time to time as notes and images that may help bring the truth of God’s word to life – a reminder of where we were a week ago.

Peace to you in the name of Jesus, 

Pastor Mark    

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Power is Already in the Seed

The Power is Already in the Seed
The Gospel of Mark, ch 4

Crestview family, this week, we have a ‘tweener’ message between our series of Live Wide Awake (Summer 2020) and The Book of James (beginning September 6th – Nov 22nd).  This is a great opportunity to focus on a pointed emphasis of Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom of God.    Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God often in parables.  

Parables are short stories that open up a world of truth.  There is a concrete comparison in every parable of Jesus that isn’t a deep mystery to figure out.  Yet, every parable of Jesus about the Kingdom of God invites the imagination to wonder about its profound reality.  And Jesus teaches in parables knowing that some will understand and ‘get it’ and others will not.    

We will explore some truths about the Kingdom of God: What is it?  How do we see it?  Where do we recognize it?  How does it come into being?  How does it affect our everyday life?  Why is it important?  

Good stuff for Sunday.  Can’t go wrong with the Word of God.  We will be focusing on Mark chapter 4 where Mark weaves together a series of parables about the Kingdom of God and seeds.  One idea that will come through clearly is that the power of God is already in the seed.  And the seed will grow in God’s time and in God’s way.  Concrete comparisons can be understood from these parables about the seed while at the same time our imaginations can be encouraged to wonder about the reality of the Kingdom of God.

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Live Wide Awake: Trust!

We are in a new Summer Series from Laura Degroot’s book: Live Wide Awake

Luke 11, Matthew 6

It has been good to see people at our outdoor worship venue on the grounds of Crestview Church the past two weeks.  Live streaming also went well from the feedback we have received.  Let us know if you have any other feedback for us on how we can further enhance the experience for those of you who are attending from home.  

This week we wrap up our summer series that highlighted Scriptures based on the main themes from Laura DeGroot’s book, Live Wide Awake.  Thanks to Laura for her engagement with us over the summer through her book, bringing a message in the series, several conversations with me, and her engagement with the Women’s Bible Study.  

As we conclude our summer series this Sunday, I will give a brief sweeping review of the themes we encountered and then dive into a passionate presentation of what causes me to Live Wide Awake. This will include Scripture that provides kindling to the fire that fuels my life on a regular basis and various quotes by other LIve Wide Awake kind of people that stimulate my faith.  

I couldn’t keep up in the writing of this week’s message with the speed of my mind and heart in preparation.  When God’s truth and salvation, life and light, come together in the human heart, there is an explosion of sorts… That is what happened for me this week.  To God be the glory.

Looking forward to Sunday already, with the intentional window of time set aside to be in God’s Word and presence with you.  In this time where there is confusion, wondering, struggle, and challenges, it’s important to ‘cling to what is necessary’ (Gregory of Nyssa, 4th Century).   

As we step into the Book of James beginning Labor Day weekend, James 1:2-3 speaks of trials.  The ‘testing of our faith produces perseverance so we might be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  What does that look like?  A preview of what is to come.

In Him,
Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Live Wide Awake: Fear?!

We are in a new Summer Series from Laura Degroot’s book: Live Wide Awake

Matthew 14

Thank you God for Colorado weather where it seems like the sun is always shining and the breezes are always blowing!  As council and staff, we praise God for the good start to our outdoor worship and live streaming this past Sunday.  Special thanks to Vince Huffaker for researching and pulling off our livestream seamlessly and with quality!  We are looking to improve the experience by making some fine adjustments to it week to week.  

We are in the home stretch with our summer series thematically structured on Live Wide Awake, a book by author and former Crestview member, Laura DeGroot.  This Sunday we will focus on Laura’s chapter, Fear Knots.  So for the follower of Jesus, which is it, “Fear Knot” or “Fear Not!”  Be good to explore together some things about the nature of fear and its place in our lives.

How much space and time does fear occupy in your day to day life?  What are the things that bring you fear?  What are your fear ‘factors’?  How does the reality of God, God’s promises, his constant presence with you by way of the Holy Spirit inform your fear?  

Fear is a fact of life.  Fear is real.  Yet, Scripture has some things to say about fear and the place and space it should have in our lives.  See you Sunday, August 16th, 9:30am either in person or via livestream.  Probably gonna be 75 degrees and sunny – bring a sunhat, an umbrella, or a beach towel and catch some rays… God’s word should shed light on whatever else is needed. 

Been reading Amos 5 and Micah 6… ‘Seek the Lord… act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God…”  The good Word for everyday, including today,

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Live Wide Awake: Live!

We are in a new Summer Series from Laura Degroot’s book: Live Wide Awake

Romans 8

Ready, get set, slow!  This Sunday August 9th, 9:30am we are heading outdoors for worship at Crestview.  Plan on a socially distanced time together of 45-55 minutes on the front lawn.  Bring your own lawn chair and beverage.  Hand sanitizer and masks will be available as needed.    

Please make a wise decision for you and your family regarding attendance in person considering factors such as age, medical condition, and overall health.  If you are not feeling well or have been exposed to anyone who has recently tested positive for the coronavirus, we ask that you stay home.

We will have two options available for those who will not be attending the service in person: live streaming of the service in actual time (details will arrive in your email inbox later this week with instructions to access) or audio link (posted to our church website following the service.) 

It is in our Creator Redeemer God that we live, move, breathe, and have our being.  As we look toward fall ministry and engagement at Crestview Church and in our communities, continue in prayer for one another and for our neighbors.  God desires to make his name known, his presence felt, and his love understood and experienced.  And for some reason known only to Him, his preferred way to make himself known is through his people.  Now is the time to shine.  Now is a time for faith.  

Keep your eyes and ears open for the whispers and promptings of the Holy Spirit.  And step in and step forward to be used by God as a person of light.  With negativity flying around like supercharged neutrinos, I’ve been focused on a couple of Scripture texts:

  • Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy – think about such things.”
  • James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt…”

Here is a question in preparation for Sunday’s message, do you believe that God is good?  Your answer to this question will inform much about your faith.  Your answer may also reveal much about your life experiences and how they have affected you – positively or negatively.  Your answer informs deeply how you respond to the challenges of your day and affect everything from your love of spouse and neighbor, your parenting, the ways you engage work and play, the amount of anxiety and worry you carry around…  your answer to this question informs every area of life.  

God’s Shalom and Goodness rest on you,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Live Wide Awake: Impossible? Mission Possible!

We are in a new Summer Series from Laura Degroot’s book: Live Wide Awake

Impossible!?  Mission Possible! 
Galatians 5

Crestview Family,

Grace, Love, and Peace to you in the name of Jesus.  

Seems that everyone is thinking about the fall schedule as college students are returning to campuses and schools at all age levels are figuring out what the education schedule/structure will look like.  This deeply affects educators and students alike.  Families seem particularly challenged as they try to balance home, work, school patterns in this new atmosphere.  Shifts and changes continue to affect people’s employment situations on many levels.  Small businesses particularly find this season difficult.  Churches across our city and country are facing challenges in reopening.  The dance is difficult.   Starting up what has been halted is difficult, just like I remember from an assembly line at Steelcase during my summer employment.  (Isn’t there a physical law about inertia that explains this?)  After a chaotic spring and disjointed summer of isolation and cancellations, where do we go from here?  

Why mention these things?  Because they are real.  The ‘list’ of challenges we are presented with each day could be much longer and described in much more discouraging detail of course, but that would be… unfruitful.   

This Sunday, August 2nd, we will begin our final 4 messages thematically shaped from Laura DeGroot’s book, Live Wide Awake.  We will be focusing on Galatians chapter 5, with the theme of Impossible!?  Mission Possible!  In preparation for Sunday’s message, read chapter 5 of Galatians.  It will be the focus of the practices from Laura’s book for next week.  Paul basically breaks down the calling for followers of Jesus to walk in the Spirit.  He describes it plainly.  As you read the chapter, make a list of the ways that walking in the Spirit looks like.  Paul also describes the ‘acts of the flesh.’  He likens ‘acts of the flesh’ as being yoked to slavery and walking in the Spirit as being freedom. How do you understand this?             

We have decided to move forward with an outdoor worship service on August 9th, 9:30am and scheduled through Labor Day weekend.  Looking forward to seeing some of you in the outdoors on site at Crestview. For those of you joining us online, live streaming is in the works. Details will be presented next week for the logistics of the August 9th service.  Join the leadership in prayer over this change of venue as we continue to plan for the September through December worship format that would be best. 

In other news, we have had two zoom meetings around the topic of youth and children’s ministries for the Sept-December semester with families.  Plans are being formulated and prayed over.  Also, I plan to gather our faith community around the book of James this fall.  And then beginning a series on the Gospel of Luke for Advent and into 2021.  Praying into that direction as well.  

Our new TQ from now through September 2020: James 1:2-8, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”    

May God give you faith, perseverance, and wisdom.  He is a generous giver to those who seek and believe.  
In Jesus name,


Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Live Wide Awake: Loved

We are in a new Summer Series from Laura Degroot’s book: Live Wide Awake

Romans 5:8, John 3:16-21

How are you?  Really… how are you?  It seems to be a question at present that if asked of someone could unleash a myriad of emotional reactions.   In the hearts and minds of most people, the toll of COVID lifestyle, disruptions, and alterations in school, work, homelife, etc is having a cumulative effect.  As our families anticipate the open questions yet unanswered about returning to school and what changes that will bring, as churches are figuring out what does church look like in September going into winter, as businesses continue to determine how to adapt to new patterns of functioning and seek to survive, as parents continue to juggle the demands of work, home and family, in the same space all day long, as people are affected adversely physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, financially, and as another announcement goes out, ‘Anyone up for another zoom meeting?’…

It is into the now of our time in the world and in our lives and the lives of others that God speaks, through his Word and his Spirit.  Now is the time, and the time is always now, for us to seek Him.  Now is the time, and time is always now, to look outside ourselves to loving others well.  Now is the time, and the time is always now, to look to our spiritual heart’s health and attend to it.  Nurture it.  Feed it.  

This week, in Laura’s chapter, Oh You Love Me Like That, we will be attending to the knowledge, understanding, and experience of God’s love.  God demonstrates his love for us in ‘that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  The love of God through JesusChrist empowers us through his Spirit to have the knowledge, understanding, and experience of the depth, breadth, width, and height of it.  And this leads us to a life of love toward God and others.  It leads us to ‘will the good’ of another.  Leads us to ‘seek the best for another.’  

This coming week, the Spirit will lead us through stories in John 3, 8, 13, 15 in the daily practices of engaging God.  Each story reveals a dimension of God’s character, his great love.  God’s love is for you and for me.  

We do not know the future in detail, but we do know this about the future – God holds it.  We may not feel the love of God for us every moment of every day, but we do know that ‘God loves me like that.’  So much that he gave his one and only Son.  

We have all we need in God to move together into the future.  You have all you need in God to face the continued challenges ahead.  As we experiment with an outdoor worship service beginning August 9th and discern the shape of our fall/winter ministries we will lean into God’s love for us and let it empower us forward. 

The message is entitled, Loved.  Our text for Sunday will be Romans 5:8 and John 3:16-21.  The message will be illustrated with stories from John 3, 8, 13 and 15. 

In Him we live and move and have our being (The Book of Acts),

Pastor Mark