Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Regarding Encouragement

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Regarding Encouragement
Mountain of Fear/Joy
Hebrews 12:14 – Ch 13

Sunday Service will be Outside this Sunday!

Can discipline be encouraging?  Can suffering be encouraging?  These are squirrely questions that can make us squirm a bit.  But they don’t cause the writer of Hebrews to squirm!  Nor does the writer shy away from answering with an emphatic “YES!”  

After chapter 11 comes 12 and 13.  No duh.  My point is this: After the crescendo of the parade on faith (chapter 11), the writer brings us down with a ‘reality check’ of encouragement – encouragement from places we wouldn’t normally go looking for it.  Preparing for the last message of this series on Hebrews has been rewarding.  Calming.  Enlightening.

It’s like the feeling of calm when in the eye of a hurricane.  Surreal.  A calm assurance that even though you know you are in the middle of a storm, and that the winds are going to blow hard again very soon, you take a deep breath and your eyes focus on what lies ahead.  There is resolve.  You say to yourself, “We’ve made it this far, God won’t let us down.”  It’s the feeling of peace in the midst of challenge – knowing there is a finish line.  Even though limping, all is well.  Especially as you look around you and see that others are limping too.  

This may seem cryptic – not making much sense.  Just come on Sunday.  To make it more cryptic, take a look at these two short video links… notice the imagery of sunflower seeds breaking ground, casting off their seed shells and dancing against gravity to grow toward the sun (time lapse of a sunflower seeds growing) – notice what God designed to grow out of the devastation of a forest fire… (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ0zqo1opv8&t=10s) I’ll try and make more sense of this Sunday. 

 “See” you then,

Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Faith

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Faith
Hebrews 11-12:3

Crestview Family,

After 10 chapters in the Book of Hebrews, the writer weaves together an amazing tapestry of God fearers and persons of faith.  An understanding of the essence of faith is embodied in every name mentioned in this magnificent list.  The essence of faith is embedded in the ‘story.’  In God’s story woven together with the faith of God’s people throughout history reveals the hope followers of Jesus carry with them every day.  

The writer says things like this, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for (promises fulfilled/resurrection!) and assurance about what we do not see (God and the fully fulfilled promises of God yet to come).”   And like this, “We look forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God.”  And this, “They persevered because they saw him who is invisible.”  And this, “People of faith who conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of flames, escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.  Women received back their dead, raised to life again.  Others were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment, put to death by stoning; sawed in two; killed by the sword.  They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them.  These were commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”       

Gonna be fun telling this story, God’s story, on Sunday.  See you then,

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Promise

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Promise
Hebrews 6:13-20

Happy week after Easter!  Thanks to all for a wonderful outdoor celebration in pulling off the venue with class.  And thanks to God for the blessing of a seasonally warm day for worship.  

This week we go back in order to move forward.  In our journey through the Book of Hebrews we moved quickly during Passion Week through chapters 5-10.  I will be going back to chapter 6 to kickoff a three week series of messages on Promise (6:13-20), Faith (11-12:3) and Encouragement (12-13) to conclude our messages on Hebrews.  

The passage for Sunday is a level 301 theological class.  The writer takes us back to Abraham and the Book of Genesis.  He makes an argument that God ‘double pinky swears’ an oath by 1st making a promise and then 2nd, sealing it by swearing by himself.  It’s a clever and powerful argument.  

The writer’s endgame is to give us an ‘anchor of hope for the soul that is firm and secure.’          
The anchor described by the writer is not one anchored to the ocean floor, rather, one grounded in heaven.  So what?  Who cares?  Be fun unpacking this one on Sunday.  See you then,

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Regarding Perseverance

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Regarding Perseverance
Hebrews 10:19-39

We are in passion week 2021.  In a recent weekly time with the kids, we discussed the practice that at the time of Jesus’ passion week experiences, each family, after arriving in Jerusalem for the week long Passover feast, would purchase a lamb for the family.  The lamb would go everywhere with the family.  And then, a week later, on Passover, the lamb would be slaughtered.  The lamb was food for the family meal as well as symbolic of God’s great deliverance of his people from Egypt and slavery.  It formed their identity as worshippers and followers of YHWH.  It symbolized God’s redemption through the shed blood of a lamb sprinkled on the doorposts long ago. 

This is powerful practice and imagery.  Imagine a Jewish, Hebrew family, arriving in Jerusalem for the Passover feast.  You have this lamb with you for a week, you get attached to it, feed it, care for it, hold it, you know that it’s life will soon be given as a symbolic gesture of God’s deliverance.  A substitute, the lamb’s life for my life.  And this practice is lived into and celebrated on a yearly basis – a highlight of all festivals.  

And then Jesus arrives this particular year for Passover celebration.  And unknowing to the people in the city that year, unknowing to even his own disciples – despite the fact Jesus predicted and told them what was necessarily about to happen – his suffering, crucifixion and death, the people did not understand that he was coming to be THE LAMB OF GOD.

 The drama, symbolism, and reality of Jesus as THE LAMB OF GOD is powerful and palpable.  When Jesus speaks the words at the Passover meal with his disciples, “This is my blood, this is my body,” I don’t think they have a clue what he is talking about.  Yet, they soon will.  

On Good Friday, we celebrate the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  THE ONE who suffered, was crucified, died and was buried for our sake, on behalf of the entire world.  In the Book of Hebrews, we have seen the superior truth of who Jesus is – the fulfilment of all of God’s promises.  2 Corinthians 5:5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Jesus has been made perfect, as Hebrews says, in every way, that we might become the righteousness of God.  Unbelievable salvation, the perfect Lamb.  

‘Hallelujah!  What a Savior!’  So it is that Easter comes 3 days after Passover.  The sign of Jonah, the exclamation point on Jesus victory over sin, death, and hell.  Again, on our behalf.  No greater love or pure grace will ever be known.  God’s justice satisfied!  The door to salvation is open wide!  Just as 2 Corinthians goes on to say, “Now is the day of salvation!  Be reconciled to God.”  Hebrews gives us much to chew on with this as well, “Don’t delay.  Don’t neglect such a great salvation.”  Believe it, receive it, live it.  Friday (7:00pm indoors) and Sunday (9:30am outdoors) this week, we will celebrate it!!!!!!!!!

It’s a fact, exclamation point, He is risen!  
Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Regarding The Great High Priest

King Soopers Shopping Center in Boulder, CO



You can hear words of response all around you to the shooting tragedy in our community that resulted in 10 deaths and the loss of a loved one for many.  Yet, the words are difficult to speak.  Our hearts go out to each and every impacted family in their grief and to our community as a whole impacted by this tragic shooting.    

When senseless violence happens in another city, often far away, it registers, but affects us very little.  When it happens in our own community, just down the street, it becomes a painful near reality. 

I’m encouraged in the midst of this experience by God’s Word and Spirit.  I’m reminded of the importance of community and connectedness.  Places and spaces in living life together where we find deep and rich relationships, the kind of relationships that ground our lives in true reality.  To engage in such a heinous act of violence seems to be absolutely unattached from true reality.  I’m sure the reasons are many and the causes are complicated.  And doesn’t warrant my, or any others, limited judgments.  

In light of this week’s violence, I was struck with our deep need to be grounded in true reality, the reality that is Jesus.  Jesus stepped into our brokenness and tragedy, grounded himself in our reality, became true reality in flesh and blood.  And in him and through him, his birth, life, death, and resurrection, his reality becomes our true reality.  Our identity is found in Jesus.    

Our text for this week from Hebrews 5-7 speaks of this, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need… We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  

In tragedy, we have some good news – of One who understands, knows, has experienced all tragedy.  One who understands our weakness, brokenness, our needs.  Who has not only been there, experienced that, but gone through it to the other side.  

I find the best way to comfort in sorrow is simply, especially in the face of senseless violence, to be present.  Speak less, be present more.  Yet there is no denying… people need Jesus.  We need Jesus and our neighbors need Jesus.  No doubt about it.  Jesus is the one who grounds us in true reality.  And in Jesus, there is comfort.  In Jesus, all fear is gone.  In Jesus, there is life and hope. 

Keep your eyes and attention fixed on Jesus as we live, move and breath in God’s world,

Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Regarding Sabbath Rest

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

Regarding Sabbath Rest
Hebrews 3:7 – 4:13

Spring is coming – I hope!  COVID clouds seem to be lifting – I hope!  We may be worshipping outdoors in the near future?  I hope!  Jesus Christ the hope for the world?  I know!  No need to hope, it’s a sure thing.   

Hebrews has been a good journey thus far.  Some early feedback from Sunday was some surprise at not ever putting Moses and Jesus side by side, and is seeing it, marveling at the parallels.  The writer of Hebrews is going to do this with regularity – opening up Old Testament revelation and pointing to its fulfillment in Jesus.  The writer does a huge favor for us by explaining these comparisons.

Sunday we move from the comparison of Jesus to angels (Ch1), Jesus being fully God and fully man (Ch2), Jesus superior to Moses (Ch3), to Jesus the fulfilment of sabbath rest (3:7-4:13).  A couple of questions for Sunday: Why is it difficult for us to enter into God’s rest?  How is it that Joshua and Israel entering the promised land didn’t result in rest?  What is it about Jesus and his accomplishments that open the door for us to fully enter into God’s rest?  What does Jesus mean when he invites us to ‘Come all who are weary and burdened… and I will give you rest?’  

See you Sunday,
Pastor Mark  

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

How Does Jesus Stack Up To Moses?

The  Centrality of Christ
A study in the book of Hebrews

What About Moses? How Does Jesus Stack Up To Moses?
Hebrews 3

The Book of Hebrews: 

  • Chapter 1 – Jesus is fully God and ‘no angel,’ he is far superior!
  • Chapter 2 – Jesus is fully human, been made perfect and the ‘pioneer of our salvation.’
  • This week, Chapter 3 – What about Moses?  How does Jesus stack up to Moses?

This is gonna be fun.  The writer of Hebrews moves to comparing Jesus to Moses.  Moses, in Hebrew history and Jewish tradition is a monster figure of importance.  The closest thing to Biblical ‘sainthood.’  I almost tripped through the entire book of Exodus on Tuesday prepping for this message.  Moses is quite a story.  His life is Biblically epic.  Yet, when it comes to Jesus, Moses is but a mere shadow of what has been revealed in Jesus.  

Much of the message Sunday will focus on Moses.  Why?  Because the writer of Hebrews assumes you know everything about Moses.  We can’t afford to assume that together.  So we will go back (to Exodus) in order to go forward in understanding Hebrews’ message for us today.  

Sunday, March 14th, The Centrality of Christ: What about Moses?  Hebrews 4.
See you then – snow storm, hell or high water, with livestream, the message goes on,

Pastor Mark