Pastor Mark’s Devotions, March 27

                                                                                    “PPE”

“Put on the Full Armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 6:11

During the Covid19 crisis, we are learning new terms and their meanings. There is no question that people, while they might not comply, understand the meaning of “Safe Distancing”. Also, the phrase, “flatten the curve” will bring a picture to mind not quickly forgotten. Before this pandemic, I could not tell you if I had ever heard the acronym, “PPE”. Now those letters are thrown around regularly and everyone knows what it means; “Personal Protective Equipment”. We are also very aware of the lack of personal gear for our health care providers. When I first heard this term repeated on the news, it seemed a concern that was a healthy distance away. I know that I wasn’t alone. But then I quickly realized the concern is much closer to home. Dawn and my niece, Grace, are on the medical front lines. Grace, my niece, who is an EMT serving the downtown Seattle area, is given one mask per day no matter how many calls. So also, Dawn’s clinic had one box of masks that had to last the entire week for all employees.  

All our health professionals and those serving the public are in great need of greater Personal Protective Equipment. It is no more clear than watching the news and witnessing nurses wrapped in black plastic garbage bags. Prayerfully the Federal Government and private companies will begin flooding the states with the equipment that is needed.

The reality is, we all need Personal Protective Equipment. As Christians, we are called to recognize our need for spiritual protective gear. St. Paul, in chapter 6 of Ephesians, says that we need this equipment in order to protect ourselves from Satan’s scheming. The Bible tells us that Satan is the Father of all lies, who wants to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to destroy our hearts, trample on our faith, and trip up our trust in God. Earlier in chapter 4, Paul states that it is the leadership in the church to help “equip God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining the full measure of Christ. (Eph. 4:12-13) The people of God will not be equipped for works of service nor grow in maturity, if we do not put on the proper personal protective gear. In truth, people are being cut down by our enemy every day! Paul points out that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but similar to Covid19, he is an invisible enemy. We cannot see him coming, but we can clearly see his effects. If the world can acknowledge the effects of this virus and take global action, why is the world so blind to the effects of the spiritual virus, our enemy, Satan?

To protect ourselves against this hidden enemy, Paul says, “Put on the FULL ARMOR of God so that you can take your stand.” We could not conceive of sending our soldiers out on to the battle field without a weapon and proper battle gear. It seems like we are sending our health workers out to the front lines wearing rags like the militia of the Revolutionary War. And the country is up in arms about this tragedy.  So too, we cannot send our fellow believers out into the world without armor and expect them to stand.

Paul states, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Paul identified the personal equipment we need to protect ourselves. Now what? Consider today you are entering bootcamp. Bootcamp is a place where you are broken down, built up, and learn how to become proficient with your armor. Yes, one could argue that it is time we storm the beaches of Normandy. I’m not sure it’s time for a frontal attack. Basic training lasts between 8-12 weeks. It looks like a lot of us could be sheltering in place for 8-12 weeks. Let us use this time to become more mature in the faith. You might have your sights on hoping this crisis disappears as quickly as possible. Friends, another crisis is around the corner. Somehow, somewhere, sometime. A fire, a flood, an earthquake; a cancer diagnosis, a heart attack, a child’s addiction. This time can be training so that no storm nor trial will toss us to and fro. And when we are released, we will move with greater power and purpose. Let our goal drive us to graduate from this basic training with greater faith, deeper trust, broader hope and a convincing confidence in God.

There was a time, and still is in certain countries, where people have to share a Bible. People have to guard the scriptures like they are N95 masks because they are in such short supply. We do not face this crisis. More than likely, you have a Bible sitting on a shelf somewhere. If it has been collecting dust, brush it off and begin reading the Gospel of Matthew. If you’ve already been picking up your weapon – “HOORAH!!” – keep going! Take this time and make this commitment to yourself to read through the entire New Testament. If you can picture me sitting in my home writing this devotion to you, read the Bible like you can picture God dictating something he wants to share from his heart to yours. Bootcamp Christianity begins with being handed the Word of God and gaining a greater familiarity with the character and nature of God – for yourself!  The Word of God is the foundation of our Personal Protective Equipment. Miss this one, and any of us will be fully exposed to our enemy’s schemes. Battle tested by God’s Word with prayer and the Holy Spirit – and bound together – we will be a tough out!

God Bless You All!  Chow is at 0600 hours. See you there!

In Christ, Pastor Mark

 

 



Pastor’s November Blog

 

Pastor Mark’s November Newsletter Blog

“Some Things Change, Some Things Stay the Same!”
 
My cat, my cable company, and Blockchain Technology, what do these three have in common? They are indicators that change is in the air.
 
Tigger, my aging cat, snuck out of the house last night. When I go outside to retrieve wood for the fire, she is increasingly more intent on sneaking outside. The consequence was that she spent all night out on the deck, in the dark. I heard a faint meow in the morning and realized she was outside. In the past months, I have had to change from dry food to canned food because of her digestive problems. And joy of all joys, I’m getting more hair balls coughed up on my bed spread through the night. I’m sure as Tiggy continues to age, as do I, more change will unfold.
 
My cable company told me that I needed to change my recording equipment. A month ago, and four appointments later, I’m still waiting for that change to occur. Once again, I will have to learn a new way of working with new equipment; it’s not a big deal, but just one more change that requires attention.
 
 
Blockchain Technology. Have you heard of it? Now, potentially this IS a big deal. According to Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of “Blockchain Revolution”, the blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value. Now that’s a mouthful!  “In simplest of terms”, they say, “It is a time-stamped series of immutable record of data that is managed by clusters of computers not owned by any single entity.” The three game changers about this technology is that it’s 1. Decentralized. 2. Transparent. And 3. Immutable. And amazingly enough, it’s FREE! Transactions as we know it, in all sorts of fields, will be altered and changed. For the good? Yes, transparency and the inability to deceive, cheat and steal is great. But the fall out will potentially include many business closures and many employees losing their careers (look out Charles Schwab, Edward Jones and Merrill Lynch).
 
It’s interesting that there is a new potential technology involving a free transactional system providing the world with greater security, safety, transparency, and human interconnectedness and accountability.
 
Do you realize that there is already a system in place, in God’s technological platform that provides each one of us – security, safety, transparency, human interconnectedness and also accountability? This platform is through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.
 
And the great news is that it is offered to us FREE of charge. Yet, it is not free to God! He established this platform at great cost, commitment, intentionality, and passion. We are the recipients of this amazing technological transaction – which involved the divine becoming human. A transaction that we will never truly understand but are asked to accept, trust, believe and utilize. And this transactional system is available to us every day, at every moment, for every person.
 
The world’s transactional systems will continue to change and alter and evolve as technology develops. But rest assured that God’s transactional system will never change!

 

Life and salvation through Jesus Christ IS immutable.  

 
The abundant life God promises today, and the eternal life He points us to in the future involves ONE transaction – and Jesus provided that transaction for each one of us on the cross at Calvary 2000 years ago. Everything else of value in this life is to be seen and evaluated through this ONE transaction.
 

All other transactions perhaps can be summed up in the words of St. Paul in Galatians 5:6, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”  

  Therefore, hold on to the immutable truth, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”   Hebrews 13:5   Some things change, and some things will FOREVER stay the same. Praise God!
 
In Christ,
 
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