Pastor Mark’s Blog
 
 

Pastor Mark’s October Newsletter Blog

“Happiness:  Making a Few Moves”

 
This past month has brought some new moves. Jeriah has moved into her new life in New York. She has moved away from what was familiar to a brand new set of conditions – academically, socially, spiritually, physically, culturally, and if nothing else, adjusting to life without Costco. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s is only a 15 minute drive away. Simultaneously, I’ve moved back into an old house with new conditions. The loud noise of resounding quiet rings in my ears. No more daily connections around meals or meetings or work schedules. No more shared moments during sunrise or sunsets. No more spontaneous adventures wherever the wind might take us. It’s a new culture for me too. A familiar feeling that reminds me when she left for college, yet this is farther reaching, farther climbing, farther challenging. A father could not be more excited for his daughter’s new found adventure. But as I hear the familiar wind chimes ring in the distance, I also recognize that this move is something new.
 
Perhaps you are experiencing something new, and these words are ringing true for you. How are we to handle these new moving conditions?
 
This morning I read an article about finding greater happiness in life. Some of the recommendations given were to play more video games and take more selfies. This article sent me on my own pondering about…. what truly brings greater happiness in one’s life?
 
As I began to jot down a few notes, the following thoughts quickly emerged and without knowing it, an article of my own was being created. Perhaps this might be helpful to my daughter, I don’t know – but I quickly realized that I need these thoughts for myself and perhaps they might resonate with you.
 
Buried in each thought is a secret treasure that can be found in scripture – but I’ll leave that searching for you if you want to find.
 
This is not necessarily a complete list – maybe it’s a KEY list – and maybe these thoughts will provoke a few ponderings of your own to add, delete, adjust, or expand to personalize it for yourself.
 
    A Few Moves Toward Happiness:  
  1. Move to REST in a peaceful place – enjoy quiet, music, devotion.

  Rest for your inner soul. Time with God. Time with yourself.

  1. Move to ACCOMPLISH something that brings satisfaction – exercise, yard work, house work or homework, perhaps a remodel project or even paying the bills – some tangible tasks that feel good accomplishing.

  A work that is gratifying not a work that is driven by shame or guilt.

  1. Move to CONNECT with someone. Meet for coffee, a walk or a talk. Share a meal, a snack or perhaps happy hour. Personal connection with another human being – resist email or text or even phone call if possible.

  Face to face contact is always most satisfying.

  1. Move to SERVE (or encourage) someone else with an act of kindness. Shift your focus from self to others – help to meet a need.

  Helping to meet another in need will always bring meaningful satisfaction and happiness to your soul.

  1. Move to UNDERSTAND your life in a larger context. You will live more fully in the moment with the knowledge that your life is connected to a bigger picture. If a Christian, your life is lived within God’s grand design.

  From day to day, you might not see movement but understand, God is moving you toward His destiny!

Happiness is found when you are moving toward something of intrinsic value, not in your running away from something nor as you are paralyzed by fear, nor by simply treading water aimlessly.

   So, where are you headed?

   Take time to….. * listen to the birds * smell the flowers * sip the coffee * taste the wine * rest in the quiet * watch the sunrise * stir the sauce on the stove * walk the familiar path * receive from the Spirit * read the Word * return to what you know * share your inner thoughts * help a person in need * thank God for the moments you have right here, right now.

   Remember what has brought you joy in the past.

Happiness is here for us today. It will be waiting for us tomorrow. Can you see it? Can you perceive it? Let us move in these moments and receive it!   As I sip my coffee in this quiet moment, I recognize a familiar move: “Thanks Be to God!”

“And my God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”    Phil 4:19

 
 


Pastor Mark’s September Newsletter Blog

Pastor Mark’s September Newsletter Blog

“The Lesson of the Basil Seed”
 
The night before my daughter headed out on her adventure to Southeast Asia, she yelled from her bedroom, “Hey dad, can you take care of my basil seeds?” I was directed to a couple compostable cups sitting on the window sill. Over the last couple of years, Jeriah has been growing a green thumb. Succulents and other such plants have been springing up around the house. She planted these basil seeds while still at school and now she wanted to make sure I would keep an eye on them. The little seedlings were just breaking the surface of the soil and looked pretty fragile, but I said I would do my best. With a little bit of water, and a little bit of patient waiting, by the time Jeriah returned, those seedlings were starting to stretch their limbs.
 
A few days later, I saw a tiny fan, blowing over those fragile looking sprigs. I asked her, “Why the fan?”
 
She said that she was told by a fellow “green thumber” that if a steady, light wind continuously blows on the plants, it will make them stronger and more robust. Sure enough, as the continual breeze blew, the stems grew thicker and the plants more hearty.  A few days ago, Jeriah brought in a plant that showed strong leaves and new growth popping out in all directions. She then started plucking off some of the leaves, eating a few and declaring “Now we have ‘fresh’ basil to add to our salads.” And she added, ‘By plucking off these leaves, the plant will grow broader and more healthy rather than a tall more weakly stalk.
 
This simple seed tale germinated a number of spiritual insights popping out in different directions. 
 
Jesus loved to teach with stories and parables and often used tangible, ordinary objects to covey, and/or cover up his message. A number of times he used the example of seeds in describing the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 13, Jesus told the parable of the Sower and the seed being spread upon the path, rocky, thorny and good soil. Jesus then spoke about good seed being sown in a field but while sleeping, an enemy sowed weeds among the seeds. (And we are not talking about cannabis here!) Finally, Jesus talked about the mustard seed; so small in its beginning but grows into a large garden plant providing shelter for the birds.
 
I hope Jesus might smile at this tiny basil seed thing. And I hope you might find a little encouragement with the spiritual ponderings I bring.
 
 
I could talk about the watering and waiting that is required in the Christian life. I could emphasize the pruning back that is necessary as part of faith development. I could key on the delight of fresh basil spice and the potential to bring added flavor to the lives of others. But for days, I found my eyes wandering back upon that miniature fan blowing over that tiny basil seedling. I watched the tiny frame constantly quivering in the quiet wind. To be honest, I could not really detect a growth or strengthening of that seedling only the tremors. But given time, it was obvious that Jeriah presented, in triumphant fashion, a healthy, strong, and vibrant plant.
 
To become healthy, strong, and vibrant followers of Jesus Christ, the constant, steady wind needs to blow.
 
We need the wind of the Holy Spirit to blow in us and through us.
 
The wind of the Spirit is the breath of God which allows us to come alive. God also allows a wind to blow against us that we might learn to stand. We grow strong and vibrant in the midst of circumstances involuntarily causing us to quake. We develop a strength of resistance toward the blowing winds of the world and of ready resolve toward God. As we come to KNOW our ability to withstand the continual blowing of the world by the breath of the Spirit, these are the soil conditions of the soul. The steady winds empower us to grow strong and stable bringing flavor to the world around us and stretching our limbs to declare God’s glory and greatness.
 

“Lift up your hands, (O quivering seedling),

in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.”   Psalm 134:2

“Therefore put on the full armor of God,

so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to STAND your ground,
and after you have done everything, to STAND!”   Ephesians 6:13
 
One Seedling among many,
Standing in the Wind!
Pastor Mark
 
 


Pastor Mark’s August Newsletter Blog

Pastor Mark’s August Newsletter Blog

“We Choose to Go to the Moon”

On July 20, 2019, the United States celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the moon.  Neal Armstrong spoke those memorable words, “That is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”   The world watched in awe and amazement as the 2 American Astronauts staked the United States flag in the soil on the moon’s surface. That moment was the conclusion of an impossible dream.   Nearly eight years earlier, on September 12, 1961, at Rice University in Houston, Texas, President John F. Kennedy articulated an audacious dream during his speech to the large crowd. He said,  “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon, in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard…because that is one challenge we are willing to accept…”   What a ridiculous, reckless, irresponsible statement the president declared when the nation had hardly a space program to speak of. History records JFK having second thoughts the day after speaking those crazy words. Yet he had cast a vision of beyond. The dreams of a nation had been sparked to consider the stars. And in a few short years, reckless became a reality, even after he was gone.   2000 years ago, Jesus spoke some ridiculous words to some rather foolish followers.   He said…..

“Go and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  Matthew 28:19-20

What a reckless statement to a group of disciples confused, arguably divided and certainly uncertain about their future. Yet the vision had been cast. The dreams of the disciples had been sparked to consider the world, and bring the message of salvation to all who would listen.   In the United States, we might think the message of Christ is diminishing. Fewer people are attending church and our culture has itching ears toward new and improved spirituality. But let’s not be misinformed. The message of Jesus Christ continues to spread across the globe. And in many areas, it’s spreading like an uncontrollable wildfire. According to the Joshua Project, currently there are roughly 2.3 BILLION Christians across the world.    New believers are accepting Christ in the thousands DAILY. Roughly 34,000 in South America, 30,000 in China, 25,000 in Africa and 16,000 Muslims are turning to Jesus DAILY.  Yes, it is sobering to hear that more and more people, especially young adults have left the church in the U.S. and find Jesus’ message antiquated. To be sure, affluence and the myriad of distractions have played a part in this. But also, the church has unfortunately also played its part, often offering a version of religion (focusing on many man made rules and efforts), rather than experiencing an authentic life giving relationship with our living God.   I hope you realize that….

at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, we have much to be hopeful and excited about.

The Holy Spirit is leading us and building a deeper, stronger, faith filled congregation. Sheri, our Treasurer, announced at the Council meeting that pledges are now above $380,000 for our remodel project. What an amazing expression of commitment and resolve to see God continue to build mission and ministry in this community and in our church. Alex Abdallah, our new Student/Family Ministry Director, has jumped in with both feet and is bringing a new level of excitement to our youth program. More people are visiting our church and lots of activities and ministries are moving forward.   Let us continue to carry Christ’s banner. Let us continue to….  “Go and make disciples  –  of all nations…”

We do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

We do this because it is a challenge we are willing to accept.

We do this because we are caught up in Christ’s audacious dream.

Let our eyes be drawn heavenward and let our hearts be sparked by the Holy Spirit to chase after it with all the love, faith and perseverance we can muster. And in a few short years, we will all travel to the place that has always been called Home – to be with our Heavenly Father. Your Fellow Foolish Traveler, Pastor Mark

 
 
 


Pastor’s July Blog

 
Pastor Mark’s July Newsletter Blog
 
“On Our Way Rejoicing”
 
As a boy, I can remember my dad often choosing hymn number 260, “On Our Way Rejoicing”, as our sending song in worship.  This hymn was an upbeat, celebratory song that always put an exclamation point on the service and energized us to move forward.
 
The refrain declares, “On our way rejoicing; As we forward move, Hearken to our praises, O blest God of love!”  
 
On June 9, 2019, Our Saviour’s Lutheran congregation met to discuss and vote upon the proposed plan to remodel our fellowship hall and fireside room. We gathered together for one worship service and the place was packed. You could feel the vibe and excitement in the room (which, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how the whole morning would go. We had done our homework, been on our knees in prayer – yet still we were not sure how the congregation, as a whole felt about the project.)
 
After a great time of worship, the table was set, and we feasted with a great breakfast. Then our President, Ken Christoferson, opened our meeting and gave an overall scope of the project. Marv Hansen, our project manager, then focused on all the details and particulars of the remodel. I followed trying to focus upon the “why” of this effort – to further strengthen our mission and ministry in our church and into our community. Annette Bowden then discussed the funds necessary and a vision for how this could be accomplished.  
 
Then a motion was made and a vote was taken to consider this remodel project.
 
Overwhelmingly the congregation approved the effort with a vote of 118-2. And we went on our way, rejoicing!
 
That day, commitment cards were passed out and on the following day cards were mailed out for those who could not attend. Annette explained that to begin the project, we would need to raise $200,000 in pledges to be given by September 30, 2019. Those pledges were to be made on the “green” commitment cards. The “yellow” commitment card is for a 3-year pledge, that would cover the remainder of the construction costs of $170,000.
 
It is now 7 days after our congregational meeting and to date Sheri, our treasurer, who is the only one who will count these cards, has communicated that we have received pledges on the green cards of $148,844 – that’s 74.4% of our initial fund raising goal of $200,000! 
 
Are you rejoicing? I CAN’T HEAR YOU! How exciting and what a wonderful expression of enthusiasm from our congregation to see this kind of generous giving so quickly. Yes, we still have a way to go – but it is very exciting as we forward move. May God hearken to our praises, O blest God of love!
 
On the day of our vote, I told two stories involving Pastor Tony Campolo, pointing to the power and purpose of why we are here as a church and why we do what we do. Whether remodel or not, we are here to bring the message of reconciliation from Jesus Christ to a lost and broken world. And we have been given the opportunity and privilege to participate in His mission.
 
I close with one final Tony Campolo story:  Tony was giving a major address at a women’s conference. At a point in the program the women were being challenged with a several thousand dollar goal for their mission project, the chairperson for the day turned to Dr. Campolo and asked him if he would pray for God’s blessing on the women as they considered what they might do to achieve their goal.
 
To her astonishment, he went to the podium and graciously declined. He said, “You already have the necessary resources to complete this project right here in this room. The necessary gifts are in your hands. As soon as we take the offering and underwrite this project, then we will thank God for freeing us to be generous, responsible and accountable stewards.”
 
When the offering was taken, the mission goal was overreached. Then Dr. Campolo led them in a joyous prayer and song of thanksgiving. I wonder if the song was, “On Our Way Rejoicing”?
 
Thank you for your partnership and participation. More specifically, thank you for your partnership and participation in the mission of the Gospel.
 
In all that we do, may Jesus Christ be honored, glorified and praised.
 
Join us Sunday, June 30th at 9:45 a.m. in the fellowship hall  – as we eat breakfast together, hear from Sheri the results of our progress and then sing together,  “On our way rejoicing; as we forward move, Hearken to our praises, O blest God of love!”
 
Yours in Christ,
 
Pastor Mark
 
 


Pastor Mark’s June Newsletter Blog

Pastor Mark’s June Newsletter Blog “Free Stuff” This past weekend, I had a clear goal in mind. Clean out the clutter in the garage so that I could park my truck inside. This was one major goal. After remodeling downstairs, cleaning out the closets, storing the kids extra belongings and accumulating all of my needless treasures, I didn’t know how long this cleaning effort would take. But systematically, bit by bit, I began to see some daylight. I didn’t want to waste time with a garage sale, so I simply put my unwanted junk, I mean treasures, out by the street with a sign that said, “Free”. I even put a broken lawnmower out there as well as retro, antique, old and just plain old cheap trinkets.   It was amazing to watch the items disappear one by one. Usually it happened when I left the house. Each time I would return home, another item would be gone. I’m not sure if they would have disappeared if I would have had a price tag on them. But with their being “free”, people were willing to take them home with them.

It’s interesting to read the final words in the Bible. . . . .

Revelation 22:17 states,

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”

And let them who hear say, “Come!”

Whoever is thirsty, let them come, and whoever wishes,

let them take the free gift of the water of life.”

So why is it that so many people are willing to take my free junk out along the road, but when it comes to the free gift of salvation, so many hesitate to take it home with them?   Is it because they think that there is a price associated with it? Certainly, people need to know that there was a steep price associated with this free gift of eternal life – but that price was paid by Jesus Christ, suffering on the cross, bearing the sins of the world. And yes, there is a price to be paid on our part, that we would surrender our selfish ways and live in step with God. But doesn’t that supposed price become a privilege as we experience a spirit filled life providing us with greater purpose, meaning, love and the reality of eternity?    Or does the basic truth smack us in the face that most people don’t really care and really are not that interested in spiritual things? Barna Research tells us that the opposite is true. That your average Joe, driving down our streets are indeed interested in spiritual things. So what gives?   Perhaps people just do not know about this free gift of God described in the Bible and delivered through Jesus Christ. So, if someone stopped in front of your house and was picking up an old, used water hose with a mashed end that says “free”, and happened to ask you, out of curiosity, about the free gift of Jesus Christ – would you have something to offer him/her?   A few weeks ago, one of our members was with a co-worker, and they had a conversation about Jesus. He texted me after the conversation that night and was so excited as he shared, “He didn’t know anything about Christianity, and I knew what to say.”   This is why we are continuing Connexion into June – so that we can continue to learn simple ways to respond to honest questions when people ask. Perhaps it will not be a stranger by the road, but your son or daughter at the kitchen table or your grandchild at bedtime. The gift that Jesus has freely given us, let us freely give. And may it be our privilege to pass on the truth that indeed, the price has already been paid!   Connexion, Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

And if interested, I still have some free stuff out by the road! Feel free to stop on by!

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

to give the reason for the hope that you have.”     1 Peter 3:15

 In Christ, Pastor Mark

 
 


Pastor Mark’s May Newsletter Blog

 
 

Pastor Mark’s May Newsletter Blog   “Do you Know the Score?”     72 – 58 Last month I was following Gonzaga Basketball during the March Madness NCAA Tournament.   They were ranked #1 in the West Region, and many had high hopes that they would win the championship. In the second round, the Zags were going to play Florida State. If they won that game they would make it into the second round called the Sweet 16. I tend to get nervous watching these one and done games – so I decided to wait to watch the game. I taped it on my DVR – and if they won, I would watch the game and if they lost – why bother. Is that wrong? Later that day, I checked my phone and found out the Gonzaga Bulldogs beat FSU 72-58. OK, so I drove home, gathered some snacks around me and prepared to sip my sparkling water through to the end of the game. Do you know how much fun and stress free it was watching a game that had already been won. When the Zags made a bad play, missed a shot, or gave up a turnover – it didn’t matter because I knew the score. With 14 minutes to go in the game, the Zags were up by 14 points. Then Florida State players starting making plays. With 4 minutes left in the game, they had cut the lead to 4 points. Now, if the game was live, can you imagine how stressed out I would have been, biting my nails, yelling at the players – I mean, “encouraging” the players to play better? But because I knew the final score – I could continue to eat my chips and salsa with perfect peace and contentment.   Yesterday, I was going to be at church during the final round of the Master’s golf tournament. Tiger Woods was in contention to win the tournament for the first time in 14 years. Again, I taped the final round on my DVR – but was hoping to watch it without knowing who won. Well, after church, the news feed on my phone beeps and announces that Tiger Woods had just won his 15th major golf tournament. Now, I’m hot and bothered because I really wanted to watch it not knowing who won. But after church, again with munchies in close proximity, I watched the final round. When Tiger missed a putt, or put his drive into the woods, I knew that it wasn’t too significant because in the end, I knew the score and he finished on top.

Do you know the score? I mean the real score as it relates to life? Eternal life?  

If we knew the score at the end of our life – that we went to heaven and spent the rest of eternity with our family, friends; with Jesus Christ, the angels, music, light and love – just think about how we could relax and not get so stressed out about everyday life.

Wait a minute – as Christians, WE DO KNOW THE SCORE!

We do know that we have the promise that Jesus has gone before us and has prepared the WAY!  So then, why do we get so worked up about all that is going on in daily life? Have we forgotten the score, or have we chosen to be more invested, stressed and anxious about the things around us. Jesus reminds us,

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest.” Luke 12:24-26

Now, I reject the idea that ravens are smarter than we are. But they do live care free. Have we cultivated a habit of worry and not even realized it? Let’s get back to basics. God – 1, Satan – 0. If you know this score, relax, God has the whole world in his hands. And if you don’t mind – please pass the guacamole!        Love in Christ!   Pastor Mark



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