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