Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Upside Down, Inside Out, Faith or Doubt

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Doubt.  It’s the in thing these days.  Instead of ‘don’t believe everything you hear’ the new motto is ‘don’t believe much of anything.’  It almost seems that if you have lots of doubts you receive extra kudos – like an authentic badge of honor.

In our text for Sunday, Jesus makes a powerful statement to the disciples about faith and their need for it.  On his way back into Jerusalem, Jesus is hungry and stops at a fig tree to grab a snack.  There are no figs to be found.  He curses the tree and it withers.  The disciples are amazed and wonder how this could happen so fast.

Jesus reply, 
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Is this for real?  What does Jesus mean exactly?  I’ve asked God for different things, believing I’m asking in faith, and didn’t get it.  So what gives?  And what is the relationship between faith and doubt?  Can I possess both and still be a faithful follower of Jesus?

An interesting discussion on this one.  Jesus gives a little insight into the answers with three parables in succession about two Sons who responded differently to a Father’s request, some tenants who messed up in caring for an owners vineyard, and a surprised guest at a wedding getting unexpected treatment.  Faith takes on many different faces.

Title for Sunday’s Sermon: Upside Down, Inside Out, Faith or Doubt from Matthew 21:18-22:14.

See you Sunday,

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Kingdom Principle: Suffering: Triumphal Entry? (Part 2)

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When difficult things come to us in life, it brings our focus and energy to the important things – the things that really matter.  Jesus seems to have had a keen awareness of this in his life as well.  As we lean in to take a closer look at Passion Week passages (Jesus last week on earth) from Matthew, he focuses on the things he is passionate about.

We begin with Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem – a gentle entry riding on a donkey.  His first act of triumph is to immediately go to the temple courts for worship.  What he finds going on there causes a passionate reaction from Jesus!

When Jesus enters the temple courts he finds some unwanted furniture set up in the Court of the Gentiles.  And Jesus wastes no time in a passionate manner to rearrange the furniture.  What is it that Jesus is so passionate about?  And does his passion in the temple courts translate to similar things today?  As we begin our study together into the Passion Week teachings of Jesus, we begin with Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his cleansing of the temple.  When Jesus enters into anything, including the human heart, he often rearranges the furniture.

Message: Triumphal Entry?!  Matthew 21:1-17

See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Kingdom Principle: Suffering: A Triumphal Entry?

Blog banner with the image of a highway and the word: "Journey" for the study of the Book of Matthew.
Beginning Sundaywe head into an
extended timeline in Matthew where he goes into greater detail of teachings and stories of Jesus last week on earth with his disciples.  None of it is ‘fluff-stuff.’  Jesus teachings are bold.  His stories are intense.  And in the end, he will be indicted, sentenced, and executed.
Look at the summary of the next couple chapters and how it flows:
Matthew 21:1-11 Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with all the fanfare!! Worthy of a king – palm branches, people chanting…
Matthew 21:12-17 First thing Jesus does is cause chaos in the temple courts… upsets the status quo…
Matthew 21:18-22 Jesus illustrates with a fig tree the temples coming destruction… inconceivable by anyone, including his own disciples, that could ever happen.
Matthew 21:23-22:14 Jesus authority to cause such a disruption in the temple is questioned – and he answers them by telling 3 parables that essentially describe the temple leaders indictment (1st parable – parable of the two sons), their sentence (2nd story – parable of the tenants), and their execution (3rd story – parable of the wedding banquet).  Its gripping stuff!
Matthew 22:15-40 The temple leaders design a series of questions and dilemmas designed to trap him… some testy questions about taxes, marriage, resurrection, and the greatest commandment.
Matthew 22:41-46 Jesus turns it around by asking them a question and they are unable to answer.  After this, in chapter 23, he goes on with 7 woes on the teachers of the law and the Pharisees and more on the destruction of the temple.  This will all lead to Jesus own indictment, sentencing, and execution.

We are entering into the season of Lent in a few short weeks.  Lent has a focus on ‘preparing for repentance.’  Sunday, we kick off this last week of Jesus life with two back to back stories – The Triumphal Entry and his visit to the Temple (Matthew 21:1-17).  Lets see where this takes us.

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

What Is It That You Really Want?

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“What is it you want?” and “What is it you want Jesus to do for you?”  These are questions that Jesus asks of two different groups of people (disciples and blind men) in back to back stories with different requests and different responses from Jesus from our text for Sunday, Matthew 20:20-34.

These are questions Jesus asks of us too.  They are questions of desire.  Our answer to these questions will lead to shackles or to freedom.  Jesus is setting up a choice between two kinds of kingdom’s: the Kingdom of this World and the Kingdom of God.  Which one we choose to live into will determine a life of freedom or a life of shackles.  And it all begins with desire.

What is it that we want God to do for us?   Ultimately, what is it we want?

In response to James and John request to be great in the Kingdom of God, Jesus asks the question of James and John, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”  The disciples don’t hesitate, they answer, “We can.”  But they do not understand exactly what that will require practically or vocationally.  They do not understand it in terms of the Kingdom of God and Kingdom desire.  Do we understand?

Our understanding and living out of Jesus teachings about Kingdom of God desire will define us in terms of Kingdom of God greatness.  Our understanding and living out of Kingdom of God desire and principles will lead to shackles (lack of desire and principles) or freedom (engagement of desire and principles.)

The choice is ours.  “Can you drink from this cup?”  Instead of speaking in riddles, see you Sunday for some unpacking of the text and an engaging time of download following the worship.

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Kingdom Principle: Provision

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

Our series of Kingdom Principles continues this Sunday with a look at Matthew 19:16-30.  A young man, who is financially blessed, comes to Jesus and says, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  The young man, being happy with Jesus answer, satisfied that he’s done what’s needed, says, “Anything else?” (“What do I still lack?”)  So Jesus gives an additional challenge, “If you want to be perfect, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and come follow me.”  And the young man goes away sad.

The disciples are a bit alarmed at Jesus answer to this eager rich young man.  Peter says, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus answer says it all, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

I love this story.  We tend to get lost in the fact that the young man was rich and Jesus told him to sell everything and follow him.  I don’t think any of us have sold everything to follow Jesus.  We react very much like Peter does, “Who then can be saved?”  Exactly.

There is much more going on in this story than Jesus telling a young rich man to sell everything he has.  What do you think it is?  What is it that Jesus is after in this interaction and teaching?  This story fits well into our series on Kingdom Principles.  This Sunday’s principle is Provision.  We have touched on the principles of Humility, Forgiveness, and Grace.  We continue this Sunday with Provision and move on to Desire, Suffering, and Mercy.

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Kingdom Principles: Grace

Blog banner with the image of a highway and the word: "Journey" for the study of the Book of Matthew.
Kingdom Principles!  That’s what we are about in the next few weeks.  We kicked off the year with Humility.  Sunday past we focused on Forgiveness.  And this Sunday future we take a good look at Grace. We will also focus on Desire, Suffering, and Mercy in the coming weeks.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”  Jesus is a master story teller revealing the things of God.  This Sunday we welcome Pastor John Terpstra to Crestview, recently retired pastor from Immanuel Church in Fort Collins, CO, and former Pastor of Crestview Church.  He is bringing a message on Grace from the Parable of the Vineyard and the Workers in Matthew 20:1-16.  There will be some time for reflection on the message in the Gathering Room following the worship service in Download.  God’s grace and forgiveness is the ‘great reversal’ of the Gospel.

The better we understand God’s grace the better we will understand God’s will for our lives.  The more we experience God’s grace the freer we will be.  The more we live in and live out God’s grace the happier we will be.

In Him (that is Christ),

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Kingdom Principle of Forgiveness

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

Time to kick off the holiday malaise and put on the running shoes (so to speak.)  It’s time to ‘shred’ it!  Whether its navigating a powdered slope, or working through a Jillian exercise video or cleaning out the closet – lets ‘shred it.’  We are into a new year and into a new Text of the Quarter (TQ!) and a new preaching series.

Our new TQ is from Philippians 4:4-9, “Rejoice in the Lord always!  And will say it, Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received from me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”

Our new series will focus on Kingdom of God Principles: Forgiveness, Grace, Provision, Desire, Suffering, and Mercy.  This week we will be bringing the shredder into the worship space.  Shredding will become a spiritual experience – come to find out more.  As we look at forgiveness through the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, we will take a deep look at the Kingdom Principle of Forgiveness.  Read Matthew 18:21-34.  Jesus tells a powerful story about forgiveness in the Kingdom of God.  Forgiveness is a core cognitive and experiential truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Here it is: The outcome of unforgiveness is unbearable.  Unforgiveness leads to death and pain.  The outcome of forgiveness is amazingly beautiful.  Forgiveness leads to joy and freedom.  Let’s unpack that together on Sunday.

Sunday is a comin’, come out for worship and join in the shredding.

Be free,

Pastor Mark