Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

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Welcome to my friend and ministry partner Eric Snyder from Hillcrest Church in Denver.  Eric and I have been spending regular time together as part of his transition into the Christian Reformed Church from another denomination.  Eric completes his educational and practical training for ordination this spring.  Eric has a ministry degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and has pastored previously in Cheyenne, WY before coming to Hillcrest. Eric is married to Radha, and they have two children, Lily (9) and Ben (7).

Eric and I will be trading churches this Sunday.  Eric is continuing our series in passion week texts from Matthew 25:31-46 by focusing on the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.  While I will be continuing his series in Luke in chapter 19/20, Jesus interactions with the Rich Young Ruler and Zacchaeus.

Welcome Eric!  Eric will also be available following the service for a time of download discussion.  For preparation for Sunday, read the text from Matthew on the Sheep and the Goats and also Romans 8:14-17 and reflect on this question: Is life in Christ more about avoiding and rising above our own suffering and the suffering of others or is it more about entering into our own suffering and the suffering of others?

Reminder: This weekend we ‘spring forward’ in our time change!  I’m ready for the longer lighter evenings!

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

The Kingdom of God is Like: Treasure, A Pearl, and a Net 

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Parables.  Stories that Jesus told about the Kingdom of Heaven.  They open and close doors of understanding.  We will take a look at a couple more parables of Jesus  from Matthew chapter 13:44-46, a treasure hidden in a field and a pearl of great price.

The emphasis on these stories is in the finding (fulfillment) and in the selling out (commitment).  Fulfillment and commitment are two qualities of discipleship, of following Jesus.

The fascinating part of these parables for me is the phrase, “moved by joy…” he went and sold all he had to obtain the treasure in the field and the pearl like no other.  It was out of joy.  Joy in what?  Finding something of infinite value: the Kingdom of God.

This is a great message to hear in our day today where so many things are pressing in on us.  And when it comes to following Jesus we have strange and distorted ideas of what that means.  We tend to develop ‘kill joy’ requirements and rules.  We back away from engaging fully  with a ‘don’t ask to much of me’ mentality.  We say, ‘don’t rock the boat’ when it comes to our commitments.

Read the text for Sunday, two pithy parallel parables.  And read Hebrews 12:1-3.  Jesus was sold out in his fulfillment and commitment to the Kingdom of God.  And the writer of Hebrews also mentions that Jesus ‘sold out’ because of joy.  Joy in what?  Hmmmm….

After this week, we will look at Jesus teachings on discipleship more specifically as he teaches about the cost and purpose of discipleship.  Jesus greatest hits keep coming and they play well to those who have ears and can hear…

Peace out,

Pastor Mark

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Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Little Power Parables

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

Sunday message: Little Power Parables, (Our Text of the Quarter: Matthew 13:31-34.  The Kingdom of God is like… a mustard seed?  A granule of yeast?  (Big things come in small packages!)

Good Morning friends,

Another major tragedy close to home has rocked our hearts.  I have had a hard time even speaking words about it.  Every time I try to speak about it I fall silent.  Words seem so empty and cheap.

There is deep grief as we see a gathering place full of life turned into a graveyard.  One moment there is fun and enjoyment and the next there is horror.  And the loss for so many people of a spouse, a child – unbelievable.  Its a time to weep.

I took a ride yesterday into the mountains.  Up, up, and then way up.  I left Boulder with clear vision able to see for miles.  But the further up I went, the view became more and more clouded.  I finally reached my destination for the day on top of a lone mountain.  I couldn’t see more than 30 feet in any direction because of the foggy mist and it was cold!

I knew that just beyond the mist their were snow capped mountains, rivers, lakes and beautiful blue sky.  But I couldn’t see any of it because everything was shrouded in clouds.  The beauty, grandeur, majesty of the world was all around me but I couldn’t see it.

This is how it seems sometimes with God.  He so often can seem hidden – shrouded in clouds.  Once in awhile the clouds break and a glimpse of Him can be seen – his beauty, majesty, and grandeur.  Would it be that we could see God more clearly!  “Reveal yourself to me!”

As I stood there on that lone mountain in the shrouded mist, reflecting on this reality, my thoughts were led to Jesus.  Jesus, the God-man, holy-human weave of perfection comes near to us.  Jesus is the full revelation of God.  In him, God is revealed and not so hidden.

When God seems shrouded, I look to Jesus.  I can see him.  And when the beauty and majesty of God seems hidden, I can see him.  I can seek him.  For to know Jesus is to know God.  And in Jesus, I am fully known by God.  And the promises of Jesus to be with me, to walk life with me, no matter what happens in this world, even to the end of the age, speak truth to my soul.

Now is a time to love.  Now, is a call to love.  For only in God’s love and love for one another will we be able to see God more clearly.  For in love, what is hidden is revealed.  What is lost, can be found.

1 Corinthians 13:12 helps me too, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  Til that day, I look to Jesus to see God more clearly.  I love my neighbor to know God more fully.  And I hope in the day the shroud of clouds will be lifted.

See you Sunday,

Pastor Mark



Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

A Sower, Soils, Seed and Weeds

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

Jesus is telling stories!  Stories that reveal the reality, beauty, challenge, and wonder of the Kingdom of Heaven.    Parables speak God’s truth to us on many different levels.  Jesus is a master teacher.

This Sunday we will listen to Jesus story about a Sower, some seed, different soils, and weeds.  Who is the Sower?  What’s up with the soils?  And how does the seed grow?  And how is it that weeds and wheat grow together?  Our message will be A Sower, Soils, Seed and Weeds from Matthew 13:1-30, 36-43.  

Why does Jesus speak in parables?  Why not just say it plainly? The answer to this is multiple.  Jesus says frequently after a parable teaching, “To the one who hears, let him hear.”  Parables open up a world of understanding to those who hear, but to those who don’t hear, there isn’t understanding.  This is a mystery, why do some understand (actually ‘hear’) and others do not?

Always more to explore when it comes to God’s Word,

See you Sunday,

Pastor Mark