Pastor Mark’s Blog
 
 

Pastor’s April Blog

“The Resurrection of the Dead”

  “If only for this life we have hope in Christ,
we are to be pitied more than all people.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  
I Corinthians 15:19-20
 
In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul speaks the truth about the resurrection. If we apportion our faith in Christ only to this life on earth, we have missed the mark, and are most to be pitied. If we only apply our faith to circumstances in our everyday life, we have not come to understand God’s grand design. Life here on earth, as much as there is to enjoy, is not our home. We are travelers passing through.
 
David is aware of this as he writes in Psalm 144:4,
“Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.”  
 
But we have been created, we have been painted into God’s great masterpiece, if we are willing to receive it. Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, and his resurrection points us to home – our eternal home – the place of paradise. With our feet firmly planted in this life on earth – I’m not sure that we can truly appreciate God’s plan without supernatural help. The Holy Spirit must open our eyes and hearts to the truth of the reality that life here pales in comparison to the life that awaits us.
 
Lord have mercy! Let us know with certainty, that while everything on this earth will surely fade, there is a life in heaven that will never die.
 
Paul knew with certainty that there was a paradise awaiting him. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, he describes getting caught up to paradise and hearing inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 
 
Because of this supernatural experience, Paul writes with conviction and confidence, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:20-21
 
Recently, I have been reading Mary Neal’s second book entitled, “Seven Lessons From Heaven”. Before Mary died and experienced heaven and had a face to face conversation with Jesus, she would call herself a humanist, a naturalist, a “cultural” Christian. She was a successful surgeon and had a loving family. Mary was living a life experiencing all this life had to offer.
 
But when she experienced heaven – she realized in a flash that she was TRULY home. Everything on earth faded away. Her soul was captivated by the unity, harmony and love that exists in Paradise. This is the home we are promised and which awaits us because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
 
That we might KNOW Him fully and the INHERITANCE that awaits us through Him. Come Lord Jesus!
 
Mary Neal describes Seven Lessons that she learned while in heaven. As we approach and celebrate Easter Sunday, ponder these seven lessons and ask the Holy Spirit to do a supernatural work in you – that we might, on this side of the grave, be able to embrace and celebrate all that awaits us in Paradise. God bless you!
  1. Circumstances make sense when seen through heaven’s lens, and the abundant grace we receive from God is the same grace we can freely offer others.
  1. Death is not to be feared, because death is not the end. It is a threshold where we leave our physical selves behind and walk whole into eternity.
  1. Choosing forgiveness releases our burdens and frees us to live fully and joyfully in God’s extravagant love.
  1. Heaven is a reality where we are made whole – no pain, no sorrow, no suffering – understanding prevails, relationships are reconciled, and we will be with God and our loved ones forever.
  1. Big miracles happen sometimes; personal miracles happen often. God invites us to notice His miraculous presence all around.
  1. God has a plan for each of us – full of hope, purpose, and beauty, and He wants us to discover it.
  1. In our mistakes and failures, tragedies and losses, God never leaves us. His goodness and love surround us. In His time, beauty blossoms in all things.
He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! 
Love in Christ,
Pastor Mark
 
 
 


Pastor Mark’s March Newsletter Blog

 
 

Pastor Mark’s March Newsletter Blog The Lenten Journey – “Our Path in the Wilderness” A few weeks ago, Travis Kauffman was running in the wilderness. He was running alone in the foothills of the Horsetooth Mountain Park in northern Colorado. He reported that he heard something behind him on the trail. As he turned to investigate, an 80 lb. mountain lion lunged at him. Travis said that he was bitten on the face and wrist, but he was able to fight back. He was able to fight off the mountain lion and eventually suffocate and kill him. Exactly how Travis did so was not immediately clear, but the cat is dead, and the man is recovering in a local hospital. 

1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring (mountain?) lion looking for someone to devour.

Resist him (fight him off), standing firm in the faith…”

News traveled around the globe, retelling Travis’ courageous effort to fight off an attacking lion. St. Peter warns us of another lion that prowls around looking to destroy our hopes and crush our dreams. Jesus faced that lion, the devil, in the wilderness for 40 days before he began his public ministry. He had to stand up to this enemy before he marched to the cross and achieve his ultimate victory over death. As we begin the Lenten Season, March 6 (Ash Wednesday), this 40-day march to Easter is a recognition of the real fight Jesus faced for the faith.

Jesus journeyed through the wilderness,

enduring Satan’s temptations,
and returned to Galilee IN THE POWER of the SPIRIT!
 
Jesus models a journey of faith we all must take into the wilderness as his followers. At some point, we will find ourselves, as Jesus did, in a wilderness, in unfamiliar territory, to face a formidable enemy. The wilderness is not meant to destroy us but rather that we might learn to reject Satan’s lies, resist his temptations, remain in the Truth, and return home – walking in greater power and life in the Holy Spirit. 
 
Daniel, in the Old Testament, faced his own wilderness journey. Staying faithful to God, on his knees in prayer, it led to betrayal, arrest and a sentencing by King Darius. Daniel would be thrown into the den of lions. Daniel faced a formidable enemy in both animal and accusation, yet he rejected the lies, resisted the temptations, remained in the truth and returned home – walking in greater power than he had ever known.
 
If we are to walk through our own wilderness successfully and stand firm in the faith, Jesus and Daniel model for us a standard that will always carry us through. In order for us to reject the lies, resist temptation and remain in the Truth – Jesus relied upon the Word of God.
 
“Jesus said, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone.’‘
It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’

‘It says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’   (Luke 4:4,8,12)

Jesus stood his ground and wrestled the animal to the ground and took him out in the strength of God’s living Word. And Daniel, in his deepest time of torment, trusted in the power of his God.

“Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him,because he had trusted in his God.”  (Daniel 6:23)
 

God heard Daniel’s prayers. God sent an angel to shut the lion’s mouths and preserve his life. On what trail are you running? We are about to run into the Lenten Season – a time and a path that perhaps will lead us into temptation. Be self-controlled and on alert. We have One who will deliver us from evil. The God of our salvation will watch over us as the Good Shepherd watches over his sheep. Take up the tools, seize the weapons that have been given to us – the Word of God: his living, written and spoken Word, the prayer of praise and petition, and child-like trust that will never forsake us. Whatever trail, whether Horsetooth Mountain or into the valley of the shadow of death – fear no evil, the Lion of Judah, runs by our side. He is our protector, He is our provider, He is our salvation! Can you hear Him roar? Thanks be to God!! Pastor Mark

 


Pastor Mark’s February Newsletter Blog

 
 
 
“A Suitcase packed with Faith, Hope and Love!”  
 
Pastor John Piper tells this story;
Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date – May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?”  “Sure am.”  “Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.” “Not quite that far – do you live in Chicago?” “I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton.” They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never. “Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord. The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.” . . .
 
Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand “You knew my husband?” Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me what day that was?” “Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.” “Anything special about that day,” she asked. He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. “Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.” Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.” “Where is your husband, Ruby?” “He’s gone. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!”
 
A suitcase packed with faith, hope and love!  What’s in your wallet? 
In Christ, Pastor Mark


Pastor Mark’s January Newsletter Blog

 
 
 

“3 Days of Prayer” – January 1, 2, 3, 2019 LCMC 7th Annual Three Days of Prayer “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best…”     Philippians 1:9-10

Mark Batterson writes in his book, “Draw the Circle” (page 224) “One day as I was on my knees praying about praying, I felt the Holy Spirit lovingly and playfully asking, “Did you think this was going to be easy?”  
 
Learning a spiritual language is like learning Spanish, French or German. We don’t become fluent in a few minutes. Acquiring a prayer language is like learning a foreign language. Expanding our vocabulary of praise is as difficult as conjugating verbs in another language. I love the story about the grandfather who walked by his granddaughter’s bedroom one night and overheard her praying the alphabet, literally. “Dear God, a,b,c,d,e,f,g,” She prayed all the way to “z” and said, “Amen”. The grandfather said, “Sweetie, why were you praying that way?” The granddaughter replied, “I didn’t know what to say so I figured I’d let God put the letters together however He saw fit.”
 
Batterson continues, “Sometimes I feel that way too. I have no idea what to say when I pray. And that’s ok.
 
The first objective of prayer is praying about what to pray about. Prayer isn’t about outlining our agenda to God; it’s about getting into God’s presence and getting God’s agenda for us. Billy Graham once noted: “Prayer is not about using God, it is more often about getting us in a position where God can use us. I watched the deck hands on the great liner United States as they docked that ship in NY Harbor. First, they threw out a rope to the men on the dock. Then, inside the boat the great motors went to work and pulled on the great cable. But, oddly enough, the pier wasn’t pulled out to the ship; the ship was pulled snugly up to the pier.
 
Prayer is the rope that pulls God and us together.
 
But it doesn’t pull God down to us… it pulls us to God. We must learn to say with Christ, the master of the art of praying: ‘Not my will; but Thine be done.’” I hope you will join me in beginning the New Year with 3 days of focused prayer. Our LCMC Association has been encouraging congregations to join together in prayer over the past seven years. This year, I hope we at Our Saviour’s will join the concert of prayer. Enclosed in the newsletter is a general outline that you can follow – or join in prayer however you like. On Wednesday, January 9th – our first Connexion of 2019 – we will share dinner together and then celebrate with a “Night of Prayer and Worship”. May we enter into God’s presence and see what He has for us. God Bless you all in this new year! In Christ, Pastor Mark


Pastor Mark November Newsletter blog

 
 

Pale Blue Perspective  

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

 the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”    Psalm 19:1

  A few months ago, I watched a news program highlighting NASA’s space probe Voyager 1. Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 to explore our outer solar system. By 1990, it had traveled 3.7 billion miles from earth and sent back photos and information about space, the first of its kind. After completing its primary mission and before leaving our solar system, astronomer, Carl Sagan, asked NASA to turn Voyager’s camera back toward earth and take one last photo. What was captured on that photo seemed miraculous. One tiny pale blue dot, seemingly suspended in a beam of light, over 3 billion miles away – our very own planet earth, against the giant black backdrop of the universe. If you have ever seen the picture, there is cause to pause and ponder, and perhaps readjust your perspective. Our existence is so small and our planet so tiny in relation to the vastness of space and yet here we are. We might be small and we might feel insignificant but at this point, we are one of a kind. As of today, the Voyager continues to travel at 38,000 mph through interstellar space. It is 13.4 billion miles away from earth and only has to travel another 40,000 years for another chance at a flyby with the next closest star. We are talking about 40,000 YEARS, folks!! No, you won’t be alive to see it! What does it mean that in over 13 billion miles traveled, and over 41 years of time, there has not been a sniff of any other living creature nor inhabitable planet? Scientists continue to search the skies in hopes of finding some planet similar to earth that could sustain life – but as of today, the search goes on. While our eyes are drawn to distant galaxies, wondering about life in other places, I feel led to suggest that we pause and pray and give thanks to God for providing this planet and this life that we have to share together. As far as we know, there might not be another one like it in a quadrillion miles – that’s 1,000 trillion miles – that’s a long way! I hope you feel special right now. I hope you realize how unique you are and how incredible this planet is that has been given to us. 3,000 years ago, King David tried to capture this magnified reality when he wrote,

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him?

You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and

crowned him with glory and honor.”   Psalm 8:3-5

November is approaching, the month for giving Thanks. If you are like me, this year has flown by as if we have been on the space probe. As the year 2018 will soon be in the history books, perhaps we might take a look back, take a snap shot, maybe we will see something special, something miraculous, something pale and blue that draws your attention upward and outward toward our God who has made the heavens and earth and you and I. Tomorrow, my daughter, Jeriah, my youngest, turns 21 years old. I look back on October 23, 1997 at 9:38 a.m. – and remember the miracle, the tiny babe, held in my hands, having no doubt that the God above had blessed us here down below.

We have so much to be thankful for:

life, love, children, family, friends, faith, laughter,

adventure, even the miscues.

So, let us pause and ponder and thank God for placing us on this tiny pale blue dot, that He knows each of us by name, and the mighty miracle that we are suspended in the light of his glory forever. Yours in Christ, Pastor Mark



Come and have breakfast

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast”   John 21:12 This past July 29, we held our first “5th Sunday Breakfast” between worship services. We hoped to create an opportunity for our congregation to fellowship together. You all decided it was a great idea because every table was filled and the fellowship hall buzzed with conversation, laughter, and fun. The next “5th Sunday” is September 30, but because the Men’s Retreat is happening that weekend – we decided to not miss the opportunity and move our “5th Sunday Breakfast” to the 4th Sunday on September 23. Did you know that studies have shown that 90% of people decide to attend church because of a personal invitation.  Ed Stetzer also has stated in his book, “Comeback Churches,” that 97% of people come to faith in Jesus through already existing relationships. As a church, we can attempt to evangelize our community through mass media, canvasing and waving on the street corners, but it seems the most effective way to reach people with the love of God is by word of mouth – friend to friend. It is important, for us as a church, to use many and various methods to reach our community for Christ – but the tried and true method seems to be friend to friend. We hope to create more and more ways to strengthen the “friendship factor” inside our church. We also hope that it sets the table for you to invite a friend or neighbor who might be interested and/or need a church community. As we gather together on these “5th Sundays” for breakfast (or 4th Sunday in this case) – let’s deepen friendships with each other and also… ask the Lord if there might be someone waiting for an invitation.

Joining you for breakfast can be a safe way to begin.
P.S. – If you are interested in helping cook the breakfast, please contact Carol Curtis   206-271-8535
 
Your Friend in Christ, Pastor Mark
 


How Do I Say This?

 

How Do I Say This?

“In your hearts, revere Christ as Lord.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you

to give the reason for the hope that you have.

But do this with gentleness and respect.”     1 Peter 3:15

 

Recently, I read a devotional written by a seminary classmate of mine, Pastor Paul Owens, included in the latest edition of the LCMC newsletter. In his article he describes an interaction with a relative who defines himself as an agnostic. In their conversation, Pastor Paul responded to his skepticism, “Tell me about the god you don’t believe in – maybe I don’t believe in that god either.”

Often, when we are with relatives, friends and/or neighbors who express skepticism toward faith in Jesus Christ, it’s difficult to know what to say.  As I read Pastor Paul’s experience, I was encouraged and inspired by his response. His question felt honest, respectful, gentle, and I believe, opened the door for further dialog. Paul invited his second cousin to share his experience and problems with Christianity. Paul could then respond to his doubts and questions and also share what he believes and what he doesn’t believe.

Sometimes we just need a statement that can help get the conversation going.
 

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Small Group Facilitator

 

Dear Small Group Facilitator

A few weeks ago, I sent a letter to our Small Group Facilitators. Right now we have 12 active groups with roughly 120 people involved in regularly scheduled gatherings. This number does not include many other interest and service groups that also meet during the month. Fellowship and friendship is growing and deepening within our congregation. If you are not connected to a small group, or want more information, just ask and I can fill you in and help plug you in if you’d like.

Small group is where church becomes home. For over 2,000 years, the Christian church has recognized the benefit of gathering together in public, and also more intimately in homes.

Acts 5:42 states,  “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”
 

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Having the Right Tool Makes all the Difference!

“The grass withers and the flowers fall,

but the word of our God stands forever.”    Isaiah 40:8

Once again, a few weeks ago, I was reminded how important it is to have the right tool for the job.

When we first moved into our house almost 10 years ago, the previous owner left his mulching mower for me to cut the grass. The house came with A LOT of grass to mow. The backyard slopes a great deal, so it’s not really safe to use a ride on mower. The owner talked about the physical benefits of walking and mowing with the self-propelled machine. I bought into the idea of the exercise, but quickly, I didn’t like the mulcher leaving the clumps of grass clippings and the cut weeds to sift back into the lawn. So, I went out and bought a new lawnmower with a catcher. I wanted a reliable one at a reasonable price – so how could I go wrong buying a Craftsman? $300 bucks later and I figured I was back on the road to a beautiful lawn.


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The Breakfast Club

 
 

“Come and have breakfast” – Jesus (John 21:12)

 

Back in 1985, John Hughes directed a film called, “The Breakfast Club”. The story was about five students, having nothing in common, spending a Saturday detention together in their high school library. At 7 a.m., they had nothing to say to each other, but by 4 p.m. they had bared their souls to each other and became trusted friends.

Twenty-four years earlier, in 1961, the film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, winner of two Oscars, was a romantic comedy centered in New York City. It followed a delightful romance that blossomed between an eccentric city girl and her suitor.

A few years back, before I left on vacation, I was given the book, “Breakfast at Sally’s”, to be an inspirational read while on holiday. The book, written by Richard LeMieux, is his personal touching, timely, struggle with homelessness. Lemieux ate breakfast at Sally’s (the Salvation Army) – but he found so much more.

Every Tuesday, breakfast is served at 7 a.m. by a faithful group of men at Our Saviour’s. For over eight years, men have gathered for eggs and oatmeal, but so much more. We have laughed, discussed, differed, prayed and grown in our relationship with God and with one another.


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