Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, 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

Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Stop Kidding Around!


In our journey through Matthew, Jesus is rolling out the ‘greatest hits’ one after the other.  As a brilliant and masterful teacher, he continues this week to highlight his interpretations on various aspects of the Hebrew law.

This week, Jesus addresses integrity and truthfulness of words and living.  He goes after the concept of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.  In the  Ancient Near East, the testimony of witnesses meant everything.  There wasn’t forensic science or lie detectors  – so it was very important that people spoke truth.  A person’s ‘word’ and character was foundational to good and healthy relationships.  It was a foundation of society and good community.

Once again, Jesus words are spot on for us and our culture today.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The very existence of oaths is a proof that there are such things as lies.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 136)  Truth is easily avoided, half truths are easily spoken, and lies have become a way of life.  We are in desperate need of truth telling and truth living today.  

Jesus makes a strong plea for being truthful – for living truthfully.  “Do not make oaths at all!  Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ be ‘no.'”  Instead, be truthful always!

Being truthful begins with being truthful about ourselves before God.  It continues with finding truth in the source of truth, God.  And being filled with the source of truth.

Acts 17:28 says, “In Him we live and move and have our being.”  Sounds like a key to understanding a life of truth and walking in it.  Only in the life and animation of the Holy Spirit, will we find the source, strength, and motivation to be truthful people with humility, integrity and Godly character.

This Sunday, Sydney Yapoujian will be bringing the message from Matthew 5:33-37.  I will be in Moab with over 45 men at the Annual Moab Men’s Retreat.  See you soon!

In Him,
Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Fake News


fake-newsFAKE NEWS! Read all about it…
Gotcha! Yes, the headline is just a ‘hook’ to get you to read more.

I’ve been noticing that fake news is far more common than I realized. Its everywhere. You can read it in print, search for it on the internet, hear it in conversations at the coffee shop, its everywhere. I’ve also noticed that of fake news is circulating in the church and affecting people’s lives in significant ways. We are in the middle of a three week series on Kingdom of God Community: Grace, Truth, and Love. When it comes to truth, where do you find it? Who has it? How do you come to know it? And the big question: Is there such a thing as truth?

When Jesus comes on the scene a couple thousand years ago, and God makes an appearance on earth ‘in the flesh’, there was also a lot of fake news. It was in the synagogue, out in the public square, everywhere! What does Jesus have to say about it?

For Sunday, an invitation and challenge: Skim (and I mean skim) the first few chapters of each gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Here is what you are looking for: How does Jesus begin his formal ministry? Specifically what does he say at the beginning of each Gospel? Jesus is bringing into being a ‘Kingdom’ of sorts… and how does he announce it? I’m thinking of three themes in particular that rhyme with ‘fee-rent’, ‘we-leave’, and ‘swallow tea.’

In these are some keys about truth. This is the real news.

Peace out,
Pastor Mark ouzel-falls