Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Listening and Doing

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:23-24

Listening and Doing
James 1:19-27

James, the younger brother of Jesus, is zealous for a faith profession (words) that matches up with faith expression (deeds).  In this week’s text, James 1:19-27, he defines living out our faith profession looks like being ‘quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry’ and caring ‘for the widow, the orphan, and not being polluted by the world.’  These things bring about our salvation.

Now I don’t think this means that we earn our salvation by doing these things.  James isn’t promoting a works = righteousness kind of salvation.  He is after authenticity in our words and behaviors that demonstrate the human hearts response to God’s grace in Jesus Christ. It does seem true that if we were to engage in the behaviors that James promotes in these verses, we would ‘save’ ourselves much grief – the grief of hypocrisy, of criticism of others, and from our own rudeness, abrasiveness, condemnation and judgment of self and others.
In fact, if we practice what we profess in following Jesus, we will experience blessing and the culture around us will experience transformation as well.  James teaching goes to the core of what it means to be ‘salt and light’ in the world.  This emphasis of James is an echo of Jesus own words.  For example, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!…whoever practices and teaches these commands of mine will be called great in the Kingdom of heaven… Anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise person building their life on the rock.  Anyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is a foolish one, building their life on sand.”
When our faith profession is lived out in faithful expression there is Kingdom transformation, for our own heart and life and for the world and culture around us.

James has a passion for followers of Jesus to be ‘in the world but not of it.’  We are to avoid ‘worldliness’ while at the same time avoiding ‘other worldliness.’  What does that mean?  How does that look?  It’s walking the line of being the world, but not of the world, engaged in everyday living under God’s Kingdom rule.  We avoid being only concerned about current earthly affairs, pleasure pursuits and selfish lusts, human honor and fame, a heart bent on selfish gain.  While at the same time, we avoid only being concerned with the inner spiritual world, that tends to live in the private spaces of solitude in the heart and mind, leaning always toward the ‘life to come,’ ‘pie in the sky when I die,’ being unconcerned or uninvolved with world affairs, being inattentive to the world’s present needs.  We live as Christ followers in the space of being in the world, but not of the world.  Christ followers are both world denying and world affirming.  This makes Christianity quite unique to other religions/philosophies of the world that tend to lean one way or the other.  We live in God’s world, called to avoid both tendencies to ‘worldliness’ and ‘other worldliness’ to pursue a life where God’s heart and our deep gladness in God meet the worlds deep need in life giving word and behavior. 
Message for Sunday: Listening and Doing in Three Parts, James 1:19-27.  

See you Sunday, see you soon – God’s Kingdom come and His will be done,Pastor Mark  

Morgan’s notes from last Sunday’s message…

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Listening, Faith, Mary and Joseph

Its already the 4th week of Advent this Sunday 9:30am worship and then we follow that up with a Christmas Eve service on Monday at 5:30pm!  Invite your friends and neighbors.  Gather your family together and make worship a priority for your family Christmas celebration this season.  Is Jesus not the reason for the season?  All other things seem to pale in comparison.

I began this Advent season with a reflection on the need to make space for the coming of Jesus to the human heart.  How has that been going for you over the past three weeks?  Now is the time.  On Sunday, we will reflect on this phrase in Luke 2, “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  Mary intentionally made space for the Savior of the world in more ways than one.  She carried the Savior, gave birth to the Savior, held the Savior, nursed the Savior, sang the Savior to sleep, began raising the Savior… (you get the picture!) She made room for the Savior and in those early days can imagine all that she pondered, reflected on, and prayed into.  What a wonder this baby Jesus would have been.

Mary and Joseph are wonderful examples of God’s people listening, responding in faith and surrender, and stepping forward in obedience.  Here is something to ponder and reflect on: How do both Mary and Joseph demonstrate listening, faith, surrender and obedience?  Take a look at the early chapters in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John before Jesus was born.  How does Mary respond to the news that she will become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Savior of the World?  How does Joseph respond to the news of Mary’s pregnancy?  What is the initial reactions?  What are the steps of faith demonstrated after they encounter the angels?

See you Sunday!  In the Advent spirit – waiting… can’t wait!

Pastor Mark