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

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

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God the Holy Spirit

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!

Message
God the Holy Spirit

LD 20-22


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 20-22PDF

Last week, we affirmed again that God reveals himself with a trinitarian character, 3 persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Yet the Three are One.  One God in three revelations/persons of God’s self.  

The gift of the Heidelberg Catechism to our understanding of a 3 in 1, trinitarian God, is it’s descriptions of ‘what we believe’ about this revelation of God in Scripture through the profession of the Apostles Creed.  It goes further to suggest why it matters.  What do we believe about God the Father and why does it matter? (two weeks ago). What do we believe about God the Son and why does it matter? (last week). And what do we believe about God the Holy Spirit and why does it matter? (this coming Sunday). Another way to think about it is, What are the benefits to us?

So this Sunday, we will be focused on God the Holy Spirit.  What do you know about the revelation of the Holy Spirit from Scripture?  


What do you know about the revelation of the Holy Spirit?


The Apostles Creed identifies a few core concepts of the work/activity/person of God the Holy Spirit: ‘the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.’  

After a bit of Q&A explaining, I’d like to suggest the benefits of a faith in the revealed trinitarian God of Scripture that gets very real and practical to everyday life.  

This month our special giving is for Bethany.  Deone Quist will give an update from Bethany this Sunday.  Also, we have a Vitalant Blood Drive scheduled for Tuesday November 23rd from 10am to 2pm at Crestview Church.  You can sign up by searching for a location at Crestview Church on vitalant.org by following the prompts of the ‘Donate’ tab.  Our zip code is 80303.          

Looking forward to Sunday,
  In Him,
     Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God the Son

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!

Message
God the Son

LD 11-19


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 11-19 PDF

Sisters and brothers in Christ,
In my devotions this week, the daily prayer has been: 

Almighty God, send your transforming power into my life as I seek to serve you this day.  Grant me wisdom, courage, grace, and strength to faithfully fulfill the ministry to which you have called me.  In the name of Jesus, my faithful Savior, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, my breath of life.  Amen

It’s a trinitarian prayer.  We engage in this kind of relationship with God all the time, without consciously knowing it.  I suspect it’s because God reveals himself in these three ways, as Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit with regularity – this is Scripture’s testimony.  It is a way God relates to us, and we relate back to God, and have a relationship with God.  The church over time has come up with the term ‘Trinity’ to define this revelation of God as three distinct persons, yet, One God.

Did you know that the word ‘Trinity’ isn’t in the Bible?  


Did you know that ‘Tinity’ isn’t in the Bible?


Why then do we profess this about God?  (Apostles Creed) Did you know that there are essentially three main religions that hold fast to a monotheistic (one God) foundation?  Can you name them? Yet, Christianity has the belief of three distinct persons, yet, One True God.  

Where does this idea of ‘Trinity’ come from?  Simple answer: God’s Word.  Yet, the trinitarian nature of God, yet One, is wonderfully complex. And so, we are brought back to faith.  Know that the historical Biblical Christian faith has affirmed this truth about God over and over again.  When the Heidelberg Catechism moves to the revelation of God from Scripture and asks “What is it that we believe?”, it points us to the Apostles Creed… “I believe in God the Father, Almighty… I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son our Lord… I believe in the Holy Spirit…” This is definitelytrinitarian.  

So here we are, focused on what it is we believe.  Last week, the focus was on God the Father.  This week, the focus is on God the Son, Jesus.  Next week, the focus will be on God the Holy Spirit.  What is it we believe about our 3 in 1 God?  You are invited to tune in, whether in person or on the couch, as we explore Scripture’s testimony to these things.  

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three revelations of God, yet One, 

Pastor Mark    

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

God the Father: Can you Trust Him?

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!

Message
God the Father: Can You Trust Him?

Welcome Guest Speaker: Pastor Jesse Ramer

Ex 1-20, LD 9-10


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 9-10 PDF

Morgan’s notes from last Sunday, Oct 24

Enjoy Morgan’s notes from last Sunday’s message, October 24th!

Crestview family:
We are on a journey together exploring core beliefs of the Christian faith by seeking for the core truth in Scripture about God, ourselves, and our world.  We have engaged the Heidelberg Catechism, a core confession of the church, as a guide for asking core questions about the Christian faith.  

What is it that you believe?  Everyone has a worldview made up of core beliefs that give life meaning, guide everyday thought and action, and provide purpose for living.  What are your core beliefs that give your life direction?  

The Heidelberg Catechism asks lots of questions (129 of them).  And gives answers, to the best of its ability, to the core questions of the Christian faith.  And it does so with many, many scripture references.  It’s a document to be reckoned with and should spur on even more questions.  

This past Sunday, we explored ‘true faith’ with the analogies of a trampoline, a brick wall, and a dance.  Every metaphor/analogy has its limitations, yet, can be helpful for understanding different aspects of faith.  

So far, when it comes to questions of faith and core beliefs, the catechism opened with answering the question of our only comfort in life and in death, for body and soul.  Then goes on to ask questions about our sin and misery, our salvation in and through Jesus Christ, and the call of service to God.  Another way to think about it: our guilt, God’s grace in Jesus, and our response of gratitude

We are at the place of grace in the catechism where it asks, What are we to believe when it comes to undisputed truth of God’s grace?  The answer?  Believe what Scripture teaches about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  


Believe what Scripture teaches about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit


The catechism launches into asking questions, and providing Scriptural answers to each core belief in the Apostles Creed.  So here we go: 3 weeks of messages, based on the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

Welcome to Jesse Ramer!  Familiar to some at Crestview Church who have some history here.  Jesse will bring us a message focused on God the Father.  Thank You Jesse!  May the Lord bless you and all who hear the Good News.    

‘One divine being, revealed in God’s Word as three distinct persons, one true, eternal God…’ 
  (Some deeper reflection, seeking, asking, and exploring needed on this one!). 

Please welcome Pastor Jesse Ramer who will be speaking at Crestview this Sunday on God the Father in the message: God the Father: Can you Trust Him?

For his name and glory,

    Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

What Is Faith? A Trampoline, A Brick Wall, Or A Dance?

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!


Message
What is Faith? A Trampoline, a Brick Wall, or a Dance?

LD 7-8, 23-24


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 7-8, 23-24 PDF

 Crestview family,
I’ve been reflecting on our Heidelberg Catechism series thus far and find my teaching/preaching in need of fresh direction.  So I want to approach this Sunday differently.  I would like to begin with your input about the topic of faith.  In your faith walk with God, what are the questions?  If you would ask God any question that troubles you, or you wonder about, particularly as you understand faith – what would it be?  For example: Why does God allow some people to die so young?  Why does it seem that law breaking people ‘get away with it’ and people who cheat get rich?  If we can ask God for forgiveness at our last breath – why strive for a godly life in the present?  Either God is in control of everything and all the crap we see today is part of his plan (which I don’t want to accept), or it’s all out of control (which sucks too).  What’s up?  All of these are legitimate questions, all of them influencing faith.  Give me one or two of your biggest questions about Faith?   

And here’s a comparison I can use your opinion on: Is faith more like a brick wall or a trampoline?  


Is faith more like a brick wall or a trampoline?


 No need to explain, simply one or the other –  brick wall or trampoline?  That’s all I’m revealing at this point.  Appreciate your help this week,
See ya Sunday, 

Pastor Mark   

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Along Comes a Mediator

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!


Message
Along Comes a Mediator

LD 5-6


Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 5-6 PDF

Last week we delved into the depths of our Biblically grounded sin, misery, and GUILT.  THANKS BE TO GOD!!! – this reality comes face to face with the immense magnitude of God’s Biblically grounded love, mercy, and GRACE.  This changes everything.  

We deserve punishment.  What are we to do?  God’s justice must be satisfied.  Can we save ourselves?  Can another creature take our place?  

The Heidelberg Catechism, after a relatively short excursion in the depths, makes a stunning transition to bring us back to the surface – like divers breath, releasing from the depths, and rising to the surface, bursting into sunlight.    


We need a Mediator … but who?


Must be a human being.  Must be human, only a human being can pay for human sin.  Must be God, only God can bear the weight of God’s wrath.  

There’s a lot of ‘meat to eat’ and ‘tofu to go through’ in Lord’s Day 5 and 6.  So strap on your seatbelt, this message pulls some theological freight, and requires some mental speed on the open road of one’s mind and heart.  

It’s time to turn the page and bust a move from our GUILT to God’s GRACE.  How do we turn this life changing page?  FAITH!  (Lord’s Day 7…. hush… that’s for next week.)

See ya Sunday, the day the Lord has made (I guess I can say that about every day!),

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Creation/Fall and the Law

Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!


Message
Creation/Fall and the Law

LD 3-4

(Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 3-4 PDF) coming soon!

In the beginning, God created all there is… and there was true Shalom (well being, peace, rest, joy, purpose).  Shalom – ‘all as it’s supposed to be.’  Humanity’s disobedience is a ‘breaking of shalom.’  In Christ, shalom is restored.  We are now invited to join in the restoration of shalom.  And when Jesus comes again, God’s shalom will rule perfectly in all things.  

This is the most beautiful, truthful, realistic worldview in the world today. 


If we seek God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength – we will find him.


If we follow God’s created order and law for shalom (love and obedience), there will be blessing and flourishing.  This is God’s plan and design for us and his world.  

This is how it was in the beginning, is now in Christ, and forever shall be.  God made a way back to his shalom for us and his world when there was no other way.  No matter what you say, God’s Kingdom is here to stay.  He is the Potter, and we are the clay.  Jesus is calling you to follow him today.  What do you say?   

Since we can’t overthrow him, we should join him.  What will you do?  What will you decide?  He’s calling you to cross the great divide.  Into relationship, into love, into peace, into joy, into peace, into well being, into his SHALOM.  

Our Sunday morning worship service will be indoors due to a forecasted starting temp of 50 degrees.  

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark    

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Law: What it Requires and What it Tells Me

New Message Series: Feasting on the Heidelberger!


Message
The Law: What it Requires and What it Tells Me

LD 2

Download the Heidelberg Catechism Notebook, LD 2 PDF

We started!  The Heidelberg Catechism series is on its way!  My hope for last week was for a realization of two things.  1st, what is your only comfort? That you belong to Jesus! 2nd, how relevant this belonging is!  Right now kind of relevant!  

This week we will pick up where we left off.  After a stunning opening to the catechism, COMFORT, the next series of asking and answering goes after WHAT it is that we need to know in order to live and die in this comfort and HOW do we know?  

The first thing we must know is how great our sin and misery are.  This leads us to the second thing, knowing how we are set free from our sin and misery in Jesus Christ.  And 3rd, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.  It’s a move from realization of guilt (Lord’s Days’ 2-4) to God’s grace in Jesus (Lord’s Days’ 5-31), to a life of gratitude (Lord’s Days’ 32-52).   These three things are what I need to know to live and die in the comfort and joy of belonging to Jesus.   


This provides the framework for the entire catechism.


 I plan to unpack the first thing we must know, how great our sin and misery are, with the most detailed description Sunday, since the rest of the catechism is all about grace and gratitude.  But don’t worry, even the catechism doesn’t wallow in guilt and shame.  It quickly points out that things were not always this way, not in the beginning. Nor do things stay that way because of what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives.  

And how do we come to know how great our misery is, leading us to our need for deliverance, resulting in a life of gratitude?   Lord’s Day 2-4 lead us to understand, God’s law of love tells us.  

Looking forward – see you Sunday!  We will be moving worship indoors Sunday due to tech staffing needs and borderline weather temps,  

In Jesus name,
Pastor Mark