Pastor Mark’s Devotions, June 1

“Wheat and Weeds”

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this’,” he replied. Matthew 13:27-28

Jesus teaches his followers about the Kingdom of God with many parables. Matthew 13:24-30, records Jesus’, “Parable of the Weeds.”

The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”


As I watch the new reports covering the protests surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd’s, there are definitely two groups of protesters. One group of people are trying to sow good seed. This one group is trying to bring greater attention and conversation to the issues of inequity and racial injustice, through non-violent action. They are trying to plant seeds that will result in greater understanding, respect and peace.  

There is another group of people who are sowing weeds among the wheat. These people have been organized to wreak havoc. They show up at night, seeking to create chaos and cause destruction. Their motives are not to generate conversation. Their actions are clear; looting, graffiti, and causing mayhem. This latter group is being led by an enemy.

In Jesus’ parable, the weeds are allowed to grow together with the wheat until harvest time. In relationship to God’s Kingdom, Jesus says that the weeds must not be pulled out because in doing so, you may uproot the wheat.

Wheat and weeds will always grow together. But it is critical that we are able to recognize and discern the difference between the wheat and the weeds. The wheat seeks to bring in a harvest of love, compassion, understanding, respect, unity and forgiveness. The weeds seek to grow dissension, destruction, and division out of selfish ambition.

As we watch and pray, may we be good seed among the weeds. Let us sow conversations and action that will reap greater understanding. Let us work to cultivate a harvest of righteousness that will glorify God and build His Kingdom of peace.

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark


Pastor Mark’s Devotions, May 24


The land enjoyed it’s sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.” 2 Chronicles 36:21


The southern tribes of Israel lived in exile for 70 years. Due to Israel’s idolatry, God allowed the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, and his army to destroy Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The remaining Jews were deported to Babylon. The prophet Jeremiah tried to warn the Jews of their impending doom, but they would not listen. Even though God’s people were unfaithful, God still remained faithful! Even though the Jewish captivity began in 597 B.C., God promised that they would return to the City of Zion in 70 years. God is faithful to his promises. When Cyrus, the King of Persia, conquered the Babylonians, in 538 B.C., he declared an edict allowing the Jews to begin their migration back to their homeland. Ezra 1:1 described this moment, “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom.” King Cyrus would also oversee the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Ezra records, “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” (Ezra 1:2)

The final verse of 2 Chronicles 36 mirrors the declaration found in the book of Ezra. King Cyrus says, “The LORD… has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you – may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.” (2 Chron. 36:23)

This Sabbath day is the 70th day of these devotions. It’s been 10 weeks since Governor Inslee declared the edict to “Stay at Home”. Inslee’s order, was in essence, sending us into exile to our homes. Today, all 50 states are being allowed to return from this captivity on a variety of mitigated levels, to resume a touch of normalcy.

In returning to this account of King Cyrus, 2 Chronicles 36:21 caught my attention. This verse begins, “The land enjoyed its sabbath rests…” For 70 years, the land remained quiet and at peace. Jerusalem remained in rubble for 70 years, but we are told that the land was at rest and found joy.

From all respective reports, it seems that today, this land, our land, has also enjoyed it’s sabbath rests. Not seventy years but in 70 days, global reports regarding air quality, seem to be sending us the message that mother earth has also been enjoying this 10-week respite. In fact, even animals in the wild, have been enjoying greater grazing and are flourishing while the national parks have remained at rest. 

But as human beings, how have we landed after 70 days? It’s definitely a mixed bag. If we have lost a loved one due to this pandemic, this rest has been devastating. If we have lost jobs, our small business, or our financial security, this rest can feel like a nightmare. But if our basic life needs have remained intact, I wonder if there is room to receive more. If not from the land, perhaps we can learn from our LORD. Both of them seem to understand the importance and meaning of rest. Sabbath rest is to be a time of renewal.  Most of the time, it seems that we don’t have time for that. This issue of time and renewal, some would say, is the most significant issue of our time. The pace of life continues to speed up and the temptation to not turn from pushing the pedal to the metal, is too strong.

We are returning from exile. Whether the President or the governor gives the declaration, my question is; what have we learned – as a nation, a community, a church or personally in these 70 days? I’m still trying to reason my way through this mosaic. I’m still trying to remain open to the Spirit of God to teach and remind and reveal to me what I need to know. Moving forward, I don’t like to be cooped up. Yet, looking back, I have found great joy and peace in the last week’s quiet pace. And it very well could be that we will have to move back in order to deal with something that got in front of us. I pray that will not be the case. But I also pray that I take new knowledge and understanding forward in this maze of reorientation. Can you synthesize your emotions, movements and marker moments in these past 70 days? For me, it’s still a work in progress.

If I take a rest and take a look at our LORD, I think I find the nugget I’m looking for. Whether Jesus was running or resting, the piece parts of his life always point back to relationships. Jesus would find himself removed from heaven and having to deal with the rubble in his own hometown. He would face disturbances in the synagogue, at the Temple and in front of the Roman governor on the stone Pavement. Amidst that rubble of rejection and rebuke, Jesus returned to a landing he recognized. He steadied himself and found rest in life renewing relationships. Relationships that centered first and foremost with his Father. But those relationships also extended to others with open hearts and open minds seeking for truth.

Looking ahead, we will continue to wrestle with the stops and starts of returning to life without restrictions. More edicts are sure to come. Let us not be quick to run back to our normal life as it was before. May we return a bit more cautious, ready to remove and uncover more from the rubble. We have much to learn from our Father’s fundamental edict: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. May we rest and wait and find joy in this one most important declaration.

I’m glad to be piecing this together with all of you!

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark’s Devotions, April 27


“The Grecian Jews complained because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.” Acts 6:1

People are being overlooked during this pandemic. We have been facing a distribution problem. This is nothing new. 2000 years ago, the early church also had a distribution problem.

Acts chapter six begins, “In those days when the number of disciples were increasing…” This was a crazy time in the early church. People were coming to faith. People were sharing what they had. They were gathering together in the Temple courts and in their homes every day. There was no social distancing in this crowd. The Spirit was moving. More and more converts were bringing more and more excitement to the faith. Miracles were happening. Apostles were already being thrown in jail. Church leaders were already being brought before the Sanhedrin. The Church was peaking with enthusiasm but they also had little organization. It was kind of the wild, wild west for this new faith. The energy was electric. But without oversight and direction, the church quickly fell into a situation that could have potentially robbed this energy and turned it destructive.

In the beginning, the early church was filled with only Jewish believers. The Bible tells us that as the number of believers grew, the Grecian Jews and the Hebraic Jews had a run in. The Greeks realized that when the food was being distributed, their widows were being left out by the hands of the Hebraic Jews. It was time to rumble.

The distribution problem had to be addressed. Here we are given a beautiful example, at the hands of the Apostles, how to handle conflict with wisdom and discernment. Acts 6:2-4 describes it this way:

               “So, the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

The Apostles began by gathering ALL the disciples together. When developing communication and organization, it is critical to engage all involved. This problem was going to be dealt with in the open. Everyone would know how the problem would be handled. They then identified their own roles as Apostles. These Twelve needed to stay focused on studying, preaching and teaching God’s Word. Then they gave direction. The Twelve explained that other men should be assigned the new roles and defined the handling of those practical issues. They also empowered their fellow believers to make their own decisions in choosing who shall serve. They trusted the people to call their men forward that they felt were best prepared to lead. Then they went on to give definition to decisions that needed to be made. They explained that there should be 7 men who should oversee the ministry. They also gave crucial clarification that these men must be known and have a reputation for being filled with Holy Spirit and wisdom. Finally, the Apostles indicated that they would not micro-manage the ministry leaders. They stated, “We will turn this responsibility over to them.” 

Healthy organizations establish healthy ways to handle conflict. It is amazing that without any manuals, the early church has given us a sold template for resolving conflict.

To review this template –

  1. Engage all involved.
  2. Identify specific roles.
  3. Give direction – assigning and defining new roles.
  4. Empower others in decision making.
  5. Bring further definition to tasks.
  6. Do not micro-manage

Following this process, Acts 6:5 indicates the results, “This proposal pleased the whole group.” Everyone was on board, and on the same page, because of the way the issue was handled. The Bible goes on to list the seven individuals who were chosen to serve as deacons, most notably Stephen. These men were then presented to the Apostles. The Twelve laid their hands on them and prayed over them.

What was the final conclusion to the conflict? Acts 6:7 declares, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

Peace and unity set the stage for great things! Because the disciples found a healthy way to handle conflict, peace and unity quickly returned to the body. Because harmony hovered over the believers, The Spirit of God moved with great fire and continued to spread the faith.

I’m not sure peace and unity are words I would use to describe our government these days. But there are many business and churches that suffer from this same lack of harmony. Rather than cast a critical eye upon those beyond our control, let’s look closer to home. Are there any areas in your life that might benefit from the early church template? Good, healthy communication brings peace to the soul.  

Let us pray to God for a healthy nation and government. Let us pray for our federal, state and local leaders that they can find greater unity and harmony working together. Let us pray for our church that we will walk in step with the Spirit and with one another. And let us pray for our families – that when conflicts arise, we are able to handle them following the faithful example set before us.

No need to rumble – just stay humble – God will cause the walls of conflict to tumble.

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark

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