Pastor's Blog
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April 20, 2017, 11:37 AM

From the Pastor, "Giving Up Popularity" - April 9, 2017


Dear Friends,

Giving up popularity is a really difficult topic for this pastor to address.  Whether you are reading this online or in our church, listening to my message in person or streaming on the web you are about to take a trip inside the heart, soul, and mind of one particular pastor: me.  So I warn you in advance not to apply what I share here and from the platform to other pastors or even other Christians.  This time, it's about me.

Pastoral popularity is peculiar.  Peer pressure rarely rears its head as I narrowly navigate my way through my vocational adventures.  Rather I regard certain congregational commitments and challenges as accurate assessments of how I handle the hourly honor of heeding Christ's commands.  So sweetly do the duties of my day overwhelm my desire of deepening my discipleship, I can casually commit to the changing causes of congregational committees.  I begin to whittle away at the worthwhile weight of my work, and prize popularity by picking and pursuing only those priorities that people perceive as preeminent.  It is essential that this particular pastor eschews the earthly entanglements and mundane matters of typical temporary toil and take the time to treat the timeless task of ministry with the reverence, respect, and rigor that it requires.

In God's Grip,
Pastor Mark



Comments

04-29-2017 at 10:50 AM
Putz
Love the alliteration!!
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April 4, 2017, 6:50 PM

From the Pastor - April 2, 2017


Dear Friends,

One of the greatest instincts in every human being is self preservation.  In literature, movies, and television we see a never-ending example of people who will quite literally do anything in order to survive.  Fully mature, formerly rational people, will give up principles, beliefs and even the lives of people close to them, all in an attempt to save their own life.

Against this overwhelming interest, Jesus speaks the following words recorded in three different Gospels.  In Matthew 126:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24 Jesus says "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it…"  He speaks, and at some level we understand it, even if we struggle to believe it.  We understand and believe at some core level that the harder we work and the more we strive to reduce ourselves to save our own life, the worse things get.  Eventually the pointlessness of our striving leads to death including the people and things we love and eventually even ourselves.  We simply cannot get out of this life alive.   There is hope, however, with the last half of the verses.  They end with "…but whoever loses his life for me will save it."

This great mystery only makes sense when we look at life in its fullest definition.  It's not just about the brief number of years that we live here on this Earth.  And it's not only about eternity that we will spend either with God or separated from Him. It's both. It's accepting the gift of God, Jesus Christ, and allowing God to secure our place in eternity, at His side.  With God, your eternal life begins the day you lay down the life you've been trying to save.  Without God, the slow and inevitable death that has been swallowing you up day by day will continue. The gift has been given; the choice is yours.

In God's Grip,
Pastor Mark

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March 19, 2017, 4:14 PM

From the Pastor - March 19, 2017


Dear Friends,

Can you imagine what your daily life would be like if everyone knew everything about you?

All of your private sins?
All of your unspoken frustrations?
All of the things that you keep inside and never let out?

What if you were only known by the worst thing you ever did?

What if past hurts in your life had become the definition for how everyone else now saw you?

I don't think any of us would sign up for that. But what if it were true and you met Jesus, and He accepted you anyway? What would it be like if the God who made you could tell you that all your past IS known, and He offered to save you not because of your past but in spite of your past?

I hope that some version of that is true for each of you. It is the single story of salvation, and it forms the basis for our faith. I'm excited to share an amazing section of scripture with you this morning. I hope it connects deeply with you, and I hope it can shape your future walk with Jesus.

In God's Grip,
Pastor Mark

 

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March 14, 2017, 10:32 PM

From the Pastor - March 12, 2017


Dear Friends,

It is not easy to give up expectations.  Some would argue that expectations are a crucial part of the unwritten, unspoken social contract we all have with each other.  Without expectations, we would have anarchy and chaos.

If we truly want to grow in our depth of discipleship, then this is where we need to separate the stuff that matters from the stuff that doesn't.  We need to avoid getting sidetracked and distracted.  It is normal to expect a borrowed tool to be returned by a neighbor or, at a certain age, our kids will handle a few basic chores.

My sermon two weeks ago even tried to help all of us make sense to what happens when people don't live up to our expectations. Check it out online if you missed it in person.

We run into trouble, however, when we begin to put expectations on God. One may argue that we can expect God to live up to the characteristics that He reveals to us in scripture. That's true, but it can become a very slippery slope very quickly.

Take the simple premise that God is good. Consider for a moment the vastly different expectations that could exist if all people were Christians. A conflict develops between the owner of a business, her manager, and several employees. What if it goes to court, before a Christian judge, and is argued by two faithful Christian lawyers? I can see a minimum of five different versions of what a "Good God" would be expected to do.

When you strip everything away we need to be willing to daily place our expectations of God in the trash and wait patiently for a perfect, holy, and loving God to act, not in order to act ourselves.

In God's Grip,
Pastor Mark

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March 5, 2017, 5:28 PM

From the Pastor - March 5, 2017


Dear Friends,

I think it is safe to say that none of you have secret plans for global domination. None of you are employing evil schemes to bump off your competition while you claw your way to the top of your profession. I think I can say with confidence that none of you have family members chained in the basement so you can rule over their lives.

Whew! That means none of us have control issues then, right? Wrong! Each of us struggles with control. It can be a bigger issue at various points of our life depending on what you are going through but to be human is to want to control some things.

In our Biblical selections this morning we will hear about God giving up control of his creation and Jesus refusing to take control when he was tempted.

Speaking only for myself, I am not God and I am not Jesus. I would do well to recall on a daily basis that the only one who deserved control turned it over.  Now it's up to me to do the same. Freely. In response to the love that God has already shown to me.

In God's Grip,
Pastor Mark

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Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   Entries 21-25 of 44