Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Warning to Rich Oppressors and the Call to Patience

A Warning to Rich Oppressors and the Call to Patience
James 5:1-11

With two weeks to go in our journey through the Book of James my heart feels free.  James seems to be a realist.  He says it like it is.  He flips power struggles on their head and points us to Jesus and the wisdom of God.  When tackling issues of selfish ambition and pride that play out in the ways of envy, jealousy, fighting, blaming, finger pointing, judging one another, he brings us back to humility and the wisdom of God.  And this brings freedom.

Dallas Willard in his book, Renovation of the Heart, has two chapters back to back called Radical Evil in the Ruined Soul and Radical Goodness Restored to the Soul.  Willard points out that the ruined soul must be willing to hear of and recognize its own ruin before it can find another path.  This realization is what he calls an ‘insult to our pride.’  When it comes to our selfish pride, we must lose it.  And James points us to a better way – the only way, the Jesus way.  

Once we release our grip on the control of our lives and the desire to control the lives of others and surrender ourselves to God’s grip on our lives our tendencies to anger, unforgiveness, retaliation, oppression of others, for example, will fade.  Sounds like freedom.  

This Sunday, James addresses an abuse going on in the early church: the rich lording over the poor.  Then he immediately returns to a theme found at the very beginning of the book: patience.  James once again goes after the Radical Evil in the Ruined Soul and points us towards the Radical Goodness Restored to the Soul.  In the name of Jesus.

Lord willing, a message will be given this Sunday on James 5:1-11, A Warning to Rich Oppressors and the Call to Patience.  

To God be the Glory, 
    Pastor Mark

PS – Last week I summarized the book of Ecclesiastes in a paragraph (less than 3 minutes).  Here it is…  (Ch 1) “Meaningless… meaningless – utterly meaningless… What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?  The wind blows… plant life grows… streams flow… generations come and go… (ch 2) Without God who can find meaning, enjoyment, satisfaction? (ch 3-4)  It, whatever ‘it’ is, will never be enough, will never satisfy.  (ch 5)  God is in heaven and you are on earth – so let your words be few. (ch 6) Contentment is a gift from God. (ch 7,8,9) Enjoy life with your wife… always do what is right… whatever you do with the work of your hands do with all your might… for no one knows when light will turn to night.  (ch 10,11) Faithfully cast your bread upon the water and blessing will come back to you on every wave. (Ch 12) As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the workings of God – so humble yourselves before God and he will lift you up.  Fear God.  And we know from Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Seven Paths: Anger – I’m So Mad I Could…

Pastor Mark is resuming the message series: Seven Paths leading to darkness, Seven Paths leading to light. 

Seven Paths: Anger-I’m So Mad I Could…,
Versus the Fruit of Patience and Fortitude
Genesis 4

Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,

Beginning this week, I have seen more of you in person and that has been good for my soul.  I was reminded this week particularly of the beauty of human connection and the God created gift of community.  We celebrated a birthday in our neighborhood Wednesday morning, a surprise with coffee, donuts, and chalk art.  It was a gathering of joy that touched parts of my heart that have been a bit dormant during this time of isolation.  I smiled much.  

As we continue to best understand and feel our way through ‘reopening’ phases of contact one with another, may our Great God guide our heads, hearts, and hands in sharing our lives and living life together in ways that will seem more natural.  

As a faith community, we will be putting our heads together over the next couple of weeks to determine our best course for summer connections whether virtual or in limited personal gatherings, stay tuned.  

This Sunday, we wrap up a journey through ‘pathways’ with a dive into patience/fortitude/anger.  Through the rest of May, we will journey through the story of the Good Samaritan.  And beginning on June 7th-August 30th we will walk together through a 12 week series on embracing God’s story, embracing our story.  Our weekly themes will come from a recently released book by Laura DeGroot called, Live Wide Awake.  Some of you know Laura through past connections with Crestview Church.  Week to week we can journey together in messages that will develop out of the chapters of Laura’s book.  So get  online and order your book today (or get an E-version, Kindle, etc) and get ready for our summer journey together whether virtual or in smaller groups, in personal devotions or gathering in the sanctuary – wherever God leads us this summer, we will journey together. 

May God bless you and your family in worship this week, and ‘see ya when we see ya.’  In prayer for each of you, our world, and our neighbors.  

Two kernels of wisdom for you, one from Abraham Lincoln and another from an observation of the Amish culture.  Both have some connection to our topic this week related to patience/anger and the cultural context we live in today.

In Him,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Cultivating Patience in the Midst of Productivity

The journey has begun: The Fruit of the Spirit.  We began with PEACE last Sunday and this week, it’s PATIENCE!  So start praying now that God will give you patience (careful what you ask for!)  

Patience and Peace are closely related.  As with peace, patience springs from a deep well within our spirit and is found in the source of patience – God.  

Romans 8 describes an interesting dilemma we face daily, ‘we groan inwardly’ as we wait patiently for God’s work to be done in the world and in and through us.  This requires patience, as God’s timing doesn’t always seem to be in step with our desired and ‘needed’ timing.  

Our culture is increasingly undermining the fruit of patience.  Time seems tyrannous and constraining – not enough of it and its moving to fast.  Demands and expectations from outside bombard us, not to mention the internal demands and expectations we put on ourselves. 

What’s the cure?  What is the remedy?  We will get to that on Sunday.  First thing first, we need to understand who God is – his character and nature.  When it comes to patience, we have been created in God’s image and God is amazingly patient.  God does not view time as we view it – God is timeless and can operate just fine inside or outside of time.  A day is like a thousand years to God and a thousand years like a day.  

In preparation for Sunday’s message on Cultivating Patience in the Midst of Productivity, read Romans 8:22-25 and James 5:7-11.  We will touch on concepts of Sabbath practice, God’s sovereignty, and what it might look like to ‘slow down’ a bit in order to cultivate patience.  

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Cultivating Patience in the Midst of Productivity

Peace.  The peace of God and the God of peace be with you.  Shalom.

Shalom speaks of a completeness – a wholeness of body, mind, and spirit.  Things are as they are supposed to be.  It is a spoken blessing in the Jewish faith that has been passed on from generation to generation.  Peace, in the Christian faith, an extension of the Jewish faith, is a ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit at work in us.  To say ‘Shalom’ to another is to say ‘may your life and person be willed with well-being.’  

Shalom doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of war or conflict.  It does mean, that in midst of circumstances and conflict, one has a sense of peace.  That in the midst of difficulties where ‘things are not as they are supposed to be’ there is a sense of deep and profound well being.  I can’t imagine having this kind of peace in the midst of difficulties and conflicts without Jesus.  

Paul teaches us in the book of Galatians that peace is a fruit of the Spirit.  The action of the Holy Spirit in our lives produces a shalom in us and produces the action of shalom in our dealings with others.  Scripture is filled with urgings to live a life of shalom one to another.  A past TQ (Test of the Quarter) of ours expounded on this very truth: “Rejoice!  Be gentle.  Do not be anxious.  Offer your prayers and petitions to God… and the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4)  James also touches on peace.  “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, sincere and impartial.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3)  And Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be (are) children (sons and daughters) of God.”  

Here is an assignment for Sunday you will enjoy.  Look up Galatians 5 in The Message by Eugene Peterson.  Its at your internet fingertips.  Read the entire chapter.  I think it is a well done interpretive paraphrase of Paul’s words to us.  See you Sunday!  And… Shalom!   Title of our message for Sunday: Cultivating Peace in the Midst of Fragmentation.  

In Him,
Pastor Mark

Men’s Moab Retreat, 2019

PS: Ask anyone who went to Moab this year for Men’s Retreat about their experience – it was a good year together!
PSS: Work Day at Crestview Saturday May 11th, 9:00am to 12:00pm.  Be there or be square.  Be there if you dare.  Or if your not there, you will be somewhere.