Pastor's Blog
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September 5, 2017, 6:54 AM

From the Pastor - September 5, 2017


Dear friends,

One of the many things I like about being a pastor is that I get to talk to lots of people about really important things.  Sometimes, those people are complete strangers.  Sometimes when we begin a discussion as strangers it ends in a friendship.  The reality of my personal existence is that if I don’t put up a “leave me alone” front, I end up having conversations about God in some of the most unusual places, with absolutely amazing people.

The God questions come in all forms and from all directions.  Some of them are deeply theological questions that grapple with the very fabric of creation.  Others dive into Biblical waters, pushing and prodding the boundaries of a book that is incredibly ancient, yet still speaks to us today.

Even after so many words exchanged with so many people, I can easily give you a summary of what people are asking.  I’ll share them with you in the order of popularity first.

  1. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  2. Why does God care about sexuality?
  3. Why does “the church” talk about money so much?
  4. Why is Jesus such a ‘big deal’?
  5. Did ____ (a person from their past who had died) go to heaven or hell?

Depending on the relationship, the probability of seeing the person again, and the likelihood that I will have time to finish the conversation, I answer the questions in different ways but always as truthfully as I can.  The one thing I never get to do is back them up to the biggest God question of all: Is there really a God?  If you think about it, a negative answer to that one makes the rest of the conversation pointless. 

Do you have God Questions? Do others ask you God Questions?  The upcoming series, launching September 10, will hopefully answer questions for you and help you to give an answer to those who seek you out.  If you are fortunate enough to have someone trust you enough to ask, I think you should have some ability to have a conversation.

These are the God Questions.

Week #1 Is There a God?
Week #2 Is Jesus God?
Week #3 Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People; part I?
Week #4 Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People; part II?
Week #5  What About Heaven & Hell?
Week #6  What About You & God

I hope and pray that what I will be presenting to you during this six-week series will be a blessing, so that we may all be a blessing to those around us.

In God’s Grip,
Pastor Mark

 



Comments

09-09-2017 at 12:04 PM
Ron Graham
Lemmie and I are looking forward to hearing your sermon inspired answers to the "God Questions."
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August 10, 2017, 5:03 PM

Update on fall programs. Lots of great stuff, please read it all! (August 10, 2017)


_____________

Dear Friends,

The past week we had a couple chilly days. Ok, it was only in the low 60’s, but it reminds us that fall is coming and with it a new program year at Lake Union. There are a lot of things happening, and many of them are new. I wanted to share some details with you, and answer some general questions. There are three areas below: Financial Peace University, Life Groups, and Youth.

Financial Peace University (FPU) - Starting September 7 @ 7:00 pm

This nine week class is a real game changer for anyone who has any concerns about money, debt or building a future for your family. Dave Ramsey teaches the class on video, and I will be facilitating the class. Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions, along with my best answers.

Q: Who is this class for?
A: Anyone who has any issues with money. Too little money, too much money or just too many money worries.  

Q: Do I really need a class to help me?
A: Yes!  Most of us have a lot of wrong information about money. Most of us have worries. The greater your worries, the more you need to take some time and get things figured out! In addition to the information, you will get support and encouragement to follow a good plan. Information is unless if you cannot put it into practice. FPU will help with both.

Q: How much does the class cost?
A: The materials are $100. The kit can be used by an entire household.

Q: What if I miss a class?
A: With your kit, you get access to a video from each class, accessible AFTER the class has been taught. (No getting ahead!) Even better, the videos are also avaible for another 7 weeks after the class is over so you can re-visit and re-watch anything you need more information about.

Q: I know I need help, but we do not have $100 to spend. Is there any help available?
A: Yes. Just ask Pastor Mark.

Convinced?  Click here to register for the class!
Questions? Reply to this email and ask me (Pastor Mark).

Life Groups 

Life groups are coming. Here are few bullet points to inform you about what they are and are not.

  • They are a gathering with a distinctly spiritual intention.
  • They are not a bible study.
  • They are a place to learn more about your faith, build deeper connections with other Lake Union people and hopefully laugh!
  • They are not intimidating or scary and you will never be asked to share or talk when you do not want to.
  • They are meeting in people’s homes.
  • They are not going to meet at church.
  • They are helpful for everyone at any stage of your life.
  • They are not the perfect thing for every person at every stage of your life. (If you are overly busy, consider dropping something from your schedule before you add a life group.)
  • They are in need of leaders; people who will open their home and make it a safe place to meet and grow.
  • They are not in need of perfect people, biblical experts or homes that belong in a museum. :)

They will NOT launch the first week of fall programming. We need to get some information from you first, so please take a moment and help us out. Hit reply and answer the following questions!

What night would work best for you?
What kind of group would you like? (Singles, couples, families with kids etc.)
What subjects are you most interested in exploring?
Would you be open to being a leader and hosting a group in your home?

Thanks!

Youth & Confirmation - Starting Wednesday, September 13

High school youth group and confirmation will begin on Wednesday, September 13. A longer email will be sent out to confirmation and youth families next week.

To help prepare you for some changes, please note the following:

  • Confirmation is intended for kids in 7th and 8th grades. If you have a mature 6th grader or an older kid that you would like confirmed, let’s talk. PLEASE do not just send them without a conversation, just so we are all on the same page.
  • Confirmation will now have parent chaperones. I’ll include a schedule in the separate email. We need this to help keep things fun and orderly.
  • Snacks will be donated by anyone who wants to do so. They will be supervised by the parent chaperones. Last year we had a few really weird occurrences where kids came so hungry they wiped out what looked like a month's worth of food to me!

Youth group is for high school students only; please respect it.

I am looking forward to all that God is doing here at Lake Union, and look forward to hearing from you soon!

In God’s Grip,
Pastor Mark

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July 23, 2017, 1:04 PM

From the Pastor - July 23, 2017


Dear Friends,

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH!

That could almost be an unofficial American motto.  Americans, in my opinion, more than most people want to earn things themselves.  We like to make our own way. We like to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  We like to do favors for others, rather than receive them ourselves.  If we must ask for a favor, we ‘repay’ it just as quickly as we can!

Being a man, I can only see the world through male lenses, but it looks to me like men have a tougher time than women when it comes to accepting help or asking for a favor.  Maybe you women think it’s the other way around.

Regardless, all of us in our natural selves tend to want to do what we can to earn our own way or pay things back promptly if we can’t.  This sentence is a test.  If you read it, please come up to me and say “Scuba.”

How does this mentality play out in our relationship with God?  What kind of impact does an “earn it” mentality have when we are faced with a weight and debt of sin that we could NEVER hope to pay off on our own?

This morning I hope and pray we all walk out of church a bit more free and a lot more willing to live in the splendor and beauty of God’s grace instead of the filth and squalor of our own works.

In God’s Grip,
Pastor Mark

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July 16, 2017, 12:00 AM

From the Pastor - July 16, 2017


Dear Friends,

I grew up pretty poor, so I didn’t get to see many movies, but I can still recall so many things from that hot summer day in 1977.  The way the air conditioning made me shiver a little when we walked into the theater.  The buzz of excitement as the crowds waiting to get into the theater tried not to listen the crowds leaving the recent showing, in case we overheard a spoiler.  The sheer size of the pop and the popcorn that my Uncle Jim bought for us to share!  I remember the way the seat felt on my legs; the aged velvet was crunchy and worn and felt both welcoming and irritating at the same time.  The lights dimmed, the crowd grew quiet and though I do not remember them, I am sure there were a few trailers.  All I remember was the opening scene, a huge starship tracking slowly into the frame, overtaking a smaller, impossibly outmatched ship.  And of course, eventually, the scrolling words that gave us the back story of this first of its kind amazing tale.  “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…”

That was all it took to make me a fan of Star Wars specifically and movies in general.  They grabbed a place in my heart, and even at the young age of seven, I was amazed at how powerfully they could tell a story.  Many years, and many movies later, I would begin to encounter the true stories of the Bible.  I have to admit that in my mind I saw the prophets of the old testament looking like Obi Wan Kenobi, and the young David probably looked an awful lot like Luke Skywalker in my imagination.  Princess Leia in her strong rebellious stand for justice and truth cast a flickering light over the stories of Ruth and Esther, and let’s be honest - it’s hard not to see the similarities between the Roman empire that crucified Jesus and the evil empire personified by Darth Vader.

Movies, for better or worse, have captured the hearts and minds of the majority of the American public.  If someone made the public declaration that they did not go to church, few people would notice.  Tell someone you don’t go to the movies and you are downright strange!

What if the power of Hollywood could be harnessed for the good of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Wouldn’t that be amazing!  I think it can, and over the next few weeks, I hope to walk with you as we attempt to do just that.  Where cinema and Scripture line up we can find a way to use the film to point out the truth of God.  Where they contradict each other we can use the film as a starting point for discussions that can be real, and life changing.  I look forward to joining you at the movies this summer!

In God’s Grip,
Pastor Mark

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June 11, 2017, 11:22 AM

From the Pastor - June 11, 2017


Dear Friends,

What so many people miss when they get involved in what are sometimes called "Worship wars" is that the style of worship has never been the thing on which we need to focus.  The most important thing, some would say the only important thing, is the attitude of our hearts as we worship.

John 4:24 tells us that we are to worship in spirit and in truth.  (It doesn't mention organs, pianos or guitars.)  Isaiah 29:13 makes it very, very clear.  "The Lord says: 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.'"

Nothing can tackle the place of the attitude of our hearts.  Nothing.  Instruments and styles reflect a person’s preference.  If their heart is not in the right place, it's all for nothing.  Forms and rules brought to us through tradition mean nothing if they are spoken from a heart full of malice and anger.  The battle begins and ends in our hearts, and our hearts are what God requires.

In God's Grip,
Pastor Mark

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