Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Holy Spirit Life – Loving the Forsaken

We are in a three week series on The Good Samaritan.

The Holy Spirit Life
Loving the Forsaken while Seeking Justice and Reconciliation
Luke 10: 25-37

Ephesians 3 from The Message has been on our heart and mind this week (Mark and Deone) where Paul brings encouragement to God’s people, “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth.  I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit – not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength – that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.  And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.  Reach out and experience the breadth!  Test its length!  Plumb the depths!  Rise to the heights!  Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”  

Yes!  In this time of growing discouragement, comes the Word of God for encouragement.  The Message goes on to say, “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” 

We are leaning into this truth. We are continually asking, seeking, and knocking on the door of God’s mercy and love as Almighty, Loving God upholds his world – that His goodness and righteousness will prevail.  We are praying for wisdom, discernment, patience and guided action as the Holy Spirit leads us to engage in God’s will, all the while keeping our eyes focused on our Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  

This text from Ephesians, in both The Message and the NIV translation, is well timed for us as we look to a summer of ‘reopening’, whatever that will look like.  It is well timed for our engagement with different Biblical themes (God-children, Broken, Growth, Seen, Foundations, Wilderness, Becoming, Loved, Impossible?!, Live?!, Fear?!, and Trust!) from Laura DeGroot’s book, LIVE WIDE AWAKE. 

The message for this week will focus on the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) with additional highlighting of another story Jesus told of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25).  “See” you online.

The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, in you, upon you,
   Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Welcome Adie Johnson!

Welcome Adie Johnson!

Adie continues our series on the Holy Spirit by looking at the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer.  The text of emphasis will be Romans 8:18-30.  This is a powerful text where Paul waxes eloquent about the hope we have in Jesus.

Paul speaks about the reality we live in, here and now – a world where there are signs of bondage and decay while at the same time the redemption of Christ has come and the signs and hope of the renewal of all things are underway.

So what are we to do with the frustrations and hardships we and others experience on a daily basis?  Paul gives us wonderful instruction and encouragement to deal with these things.  Its wrapped up in the gift and work of the Holy Spirit, thank you Jesus!

As you read Romans 8:18-30 in preparation for Sunday, ask yourself, what is the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer?  See you Sunday at Crestview.

As I write this, we just arrived in Michigan for Morgan’s graduation as a registered nurse from Calvin College.  Two down, one to go!  See you all soon,

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Now This Is Church!

Is my life and your life questionable?  Are the ways that we are living cause others to question us?  I’m not hinting at, ‘Are our lives questionable?’ in a negative or sinful way.  I’m asking the question in terms of discipleship (growing in our knowledge, experience, and expression of being a follower of Christ) and evangelism (being a personal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ).

Are our lives questionable?  Do the things we do and say cause others to ‘question’ the way we live?  In other words, does our life cause others to wonder about the why and how behind our living, specifically, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives in giving witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Sunday, May 13th, we look at the life of the early church (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37).  How did it express itself in individuals, in the early church community, and in their witness to the world of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

What kind of life will evoke questions in others about the how and why of our living?  What kind of life lived individually in faith and communally as a faith community would stimulate opportunity for personal and communal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Sunday will be a day of feasting and fellowship.  We will recognize our graduates and celebrate what God is doing through the life and testimony of Margaret Njuguna and Engedi Children’s Home in Kenya.  See you Sunday!

In Jesus Name,
Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Pentecost: What Does It Mean?

Who is the Holy Spirit?  How would you describe the
Spirit’s person, personality, and work?  This would be a good thing for each of us to explore and grow in our knowledge and experience.

Out of each person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the least known and referenced in the everyday life and experience of Christians.  God the Father is referenced often in the sense of generalities of prayers and conversations as being the One True God and as Creator.  Jesus is the most well known and referenced person of the Trinity, for good reason.  We can understand Jesus as he became a human person, one with us in this way.

But what about the Holy Spirit?  Its already been emphasized in our recent messages that the Holy Spirit is the activator and animator of breath and life.  The Holy Spirit is described as wind and breath and fire.  The Holy Spirit is the one who is the PRESENCE, POWER, and PURPOSE of God at work in and around us.

This Sunday, we look together at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41.)  As you read this account of Pentecost, take note of the fulfillment of Scripture from Joel 2:28-32 and Psalm 16:8-11.  What are the gifts of the Spirit?  How do we know that the Holy Spirit has come, is active and alive and at work in and around us?

See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

The Holy Spirit’s nature and role … the antidote to long-distance relationship with God


Welcome Paul Holmberg!  This Sunday while many men are on retreat in Moab Utah, Paul steps in to continue our series on the Holy Spirit.  We are at a critical point in God’s story where Jesus has ascended into heaven and the disciples are waiting for the promised Holy Spirit.  The conversations between the disciples in the days between Jesus ascension into heaven and the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost must have been fascinating.

I believe they would be talking much among themselves about why Jesus must leave them and send another (Holy Spirit).  Paul will take a look back at Jesus words about his leaving and remind us why it had to be this way (The Book of John, Chapter 12 and 14).  At least a couple of reasons why.

Thank you Paul for stepping in and opening up God’s word for us.  Another reminder, this is Nzambi and Jumoke’s last Sunday with us in worship as they will soon be returning to their home countries of Kenya and Nigeria.  Give them a warm hug and bless them on their way!

On another note, the timing of the men’s retreat in Moab couldn’t have come at a better time.  Over the past couple of weeks my spirit has felt dry and in need of some rejuvenation.  Looks like 80 degree sunny days in Moab.  Nothing like miles of single track on an MTB with friends in one of the most God glorifying landscapes on planet earth to bring one’s soul back into focus.

See you on the other side,

Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Jesus’ Ascension: What Does It Mean?


The disciples are trying to put it all together: Jesus died, raised to life again, and now what?  Jesus tells them to stay in Jerusalem until he sends them the Holy Spirit.  And then something very unusual happens.  After this promise to send the Holy Spirit, he ‘ascends’ into the clouds.

Read the end of the Gospel of Luke (24:36-53) and the beginning of the Book of Acts (1:1-11).  Its believed that the disciple Luke wrote both of these Biblical books.  He writes in Acts 1:4, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”  And then he was “taken up before their eyes.”

What does Jesus ascension into heaven mean?  Why did Jesus leave the disciples again?  What was God’s master plan in all of this?  I suspect the answer is in Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Somehow, someway, Jesus ascension is connected to the sending of his Holy Spirit in fulfilling God’s purpose for the world through his people, the church.  Lots to unpack here.  Is Jesus ‘outta here’? Or is he just getting started!  Jesus Ascension: What does it mean?  Luke 24:36-53 and Acts 1:1-11

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Life in Christ – One aha moment after aha moment…

Blog banner with the image of a highway and the word: "Journey" for the study of the Book of Matthew.

We are changing gears from The Gospel of Matthew to the Early Church and the Gift of the Holy Spirit!  Beginning this Sunday we wonder with the disciples what Jesus death and resurrection really means.

We start with a story in Luke 24:13-35, as two followers of Jesus wonder about the events in Jerusalem.  As they are walking along the road, Jesus comes up beside them and has probably one of the most fascinating conversations anyone has ever had with him.  One problem, we don’t have the conversation recorded in Scripture.

However, I think that almost the entirety of what Jesus said to these two men on the road to Emmaus is recorded somewhere in bits and pieces throughout the rest of the new testament writings.  Read the story in preparation for Sunday and imagine trying to make sense of Jesus crucifixion and crazy reports of Jesus resurrection.  Questions would abound!

This story gives us a couple clues as to what life in following Jesus post resurrection looks like.  Two truths strike me: One, following Jesus (a life of discipleship) is one AHA moment after another.  Two, be on your Guard!  There will always be an alternative narrative to try and explain away Jesus’ death and resurrection.  So what will you believe?  The story of Scripture?  Or the alternative stories that discredit Jesus’ death and resurrection?

Come Sunday, come ready, come and worship,

Pastor Mark