Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

10th Command: The Desires of Your Heart

My plans to go to Michigan to see my mom and two of our three daughters has been disrupted.  Most flights for today are being wiped away.  So I’m riding out God’s plans until further notice.  Currently writing for Sunday as I watch the snow accumulate :).    

We have arrived at the end of our series on the Ten Commandments.  The journey as been a good one as we have explored the wisdom of God given in the form of gracious boundaries for our flourishing.  God is good.  Our Text of the Quarter from Psalm 19 says, “By them is your servant warned and in keeping them there is great reward.”  In giving us his Word (law included), God’s love for us is revealed.    

In walking through the commandments in this series it would seem that not much has changed with the ‘evolution’ of humanity.  As we have become more ‘civilized and advanced’ so does our creativity in breaking God’s rules of life.  Not much has really changed in that regard since the days of Moses and the Israelites.  

Another thing hasn’t changed: God’s will for our lives.  God created us with a deep longing for relationship with Him and with a deep purpose of glorifying Him.  

The 10th command, ‘Do not covet’, stands on its own individually as 1 of 10 commands.  Yet, it also functions as a summary of the second table, ‘Love your neighbor’, that points once again to the 1st command, ‘Love God above all.’  The 10th command goes much deeper than addressing possessions and relationships – it goes to the heart of it all – the desires of the human heart.

This will be the focus of our engagement with the 10th commandments Sunday: What are the desires of your heart?   

See you Sunday – Palm Sunday… 

Peace,
Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

9th Command: Telling the Truth

After a week excursion into Ephesians with Pastor Rick Ebbers we return with a two week wrap-up of our series on the 10 Commandments, God’s Laws of Life, with a dive into the 9th (Do not lie) and 10th (Do not covet) commandments.  

In preparing for these messages I was struck by the connection between stealing (8th), lying (9th) and coveting (10th) commands.  These three are closely linked with one another with the 10th commandment functioning like a summary of the 2nd table of the law. 

Our commandment for Sunday has to do with the call of God on our lives to a life of honesty and truthfulness.  I read a fascinating article this week of excerpts from an interview with a Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, Patrick Deneen, by Comment entitled Liberty, Equality… Disintegration?.  

The article sparked a synapse of thought and belief that I have been trying to convey throughout this series.  It brought together for me something I have been grappling with since the beginning of this series.  At one point in the article he states, If liberty is understood as the reduction of all obstacles to that which we want, then one of the greatest obstacles to that which we want becomes the limitations of the natural and created order.  

From the start of this series I have emphasized the truth that God’s law is simply God’s truth of boundaries written down for our understanding and flourishing that are embodied in the created order.  They are true for all people for all time.  This truth is based on the belief that there is a supreme loving Creator Redeemer God who is our ultimate authority in life.  This truth is based on the belief that God has built into the fabric of the world and into the essence of human beings norms for our living and flourishing.  

When God gave to Moses and the Israelites (and thus given to us today) the 10 commandments, he knew what life outside of his authority and our devoted love to him would look lead to (1st table of the law – Love God above all, Love God only).  And it follows that he knew what life outside of love for our neighbor would look like (2nd table of the law – Love our neighbor).  In reading the Biblical story from beginning to end, we see over and over the fruit/blessing of living within God’s gracious boundaries of love.  We also see over and over the chaos/pain of living in ‘autonomy’ from God’s gracious boundaries of love. 

If you think deeply enough about this, this one statement by Professor Deneen explains why our world experiences such depth of brokenness, why our political systems and ideologies let us down and throughout the history of humanity so often fail, why on a personal level we experience angst in knowing that ‘things are not the way they are supposed to be.’  

Once we remove God from our lives, from societal conversation, from morality and sexuality – whatever context of life, we turn our back to the Creator Redeemer God and the design of the created order designed for our flourishing.  And this leads to chaos – not flourishing.  Looks to me like it all starts with the 1st command and leads us to the 10th command.  The Wisdom of God

Peace,
Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Lent 1, 6th Command: Loving your Neighbors in an Angry Culture

This Sunday, we will be in the middle of the second table of the Law of God given to us in the 10 Commandments.  We will continue to explore the narrow and broad, positive and negative aspects of each of the 10 Commandments.  This Sunday: You shall not kill.  

Increasingly our culture is setting aside God’s command ‘to not kill’ as various forms of killing through violence, questionable ethical decisions, and hate are on the rise.  Cultures and societies disintegrate into chaos when the value of life is diminished.  Issues of capital punishment, uncontrolled anger, war, wars of words, ethnic cleansing, suicide, revenge, gun violence, gang violence, euthanasia, abortion – are only a few of the issues that are on the mainstream of discussion today.  

And Jesus doesn’t let anyone off the hook by expanding this command to include hate, name calling, and general disdain or disregard for another person’s life as a breaking of this command.  For preparation for Sunday, revisit Jesus words from the Sermon on the Mount in Mathew 5:21-26.  Where do all of these things lead?  Death and God’s judgment.  

God gave us the 10 Commands as gracious and wonderful boundaries for our flourishing.  As we move from honoring father and mother, to promoting life, to respecting others property, being truthful and being content – What will we choose? 

Sunday we welcome Marissa Perry Saints to our worship service and download time share information and to lead us in a discussion on immigration. 

Peace in the name of Jesus,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Fifth Command: Honoring Authority in an Age of Disrespect

On Sunday we move from the 1st Table of the Law (four commands focused on ‘Loving God’) to the 2nd Table (six commands focused on ‘Loving our neighbor’ well.)  This Sunday, is Commandment Five: Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land God has given.  

We will look at the positive and negative aspects to the command as well as the narrow and broad scope: Honoring Authority in an Age of Disrespect.

In an age of family breakdown, abuse of authority, and messed up relationships between parent and child, parent to parent, and a general questioning of anyone in a position of authority, how ought we to honor and obey this command?  Lets dive in on Sunday.

Congratulations to Chase and Ethan Rietema as they make their profession of faith and experience their baptism.  We rejoice with their commitment of faith and public stance for Jesus.  Come and celebrate with us this coming Sunday!

For the Kingdom of God,

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Email, Uncategorized

Third Command: Protecting God’s Reputation

On to the 3rd command, “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.”  This is a good command to restate in the positive – “Do everything you can to promote God’s good name and reputation in both word and deed.”  The scope of this command can be narrowly and broadly applied and cover everything from our speech to the way we live.

How do we as Christ followers bring honor or dishonor to God’s name?  When does our use of God’s name cross over into commandment breaking?  In what ways do we tarnish God’s name in the things we do?  Why does God make this one of his core commands for his people?  

“The law of the Lord is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, and firm – refreshing the soul, making wise the simple, giving joy to the heart, giving light to the eyes, enduring forever – they are altogether righteous.  They are more precious than gold, sweeter than honey.  By them your servant is warned and in keeping them there is great delight.”  Psalm 19:7-11.  Our new TQ!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark