Posts Tagged "Mark"

Any Given Sermon – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Any Given Sermon – Pastor Matt

This past Sunday, Pastor Mark gave a great illustration of Immanuel Church.  He said, “It’s the exact opposite of the NFL.”  Mark’s reasoning is simple: the NFL is mostly preparation.  Teams and coaches spend the majority of their time and energy training for a game that only takes place in a period of hours every week.  Immanuel Church, on the other hand, takes a few hours to prepare for the entire week.

Granted, Sunday church isn’t the only way we prepare ourselves for ministry outside our church walls.  I can’t help think that we have much less preparation time than we actually need.  This is especially true when we think of how important our various ministries and responsibilities are outside the church walls.

What I find to be incredible is how Jesus prepared his disciples.  In Mark 3, Jesus appoints his disciples to be with him so “that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”  Notice that this is the beginning of Mark and not the end.  So Jesus has his disciples doing active ministry before they had extensive and comprehensive training.  Had I been Jesus, I would have given the disciples authority when I knew they could handle the authority and not mess things up.   But one thing I’m absolutely sure of is that I’m not Jesus, and his ways are infinitely better than mine.  He gives his disciples authority not because they were ready but because that’s how they grow.

I believe that God does the same for us.  There is not a graduation day were we get our official Christian diploma.  We are already Christians who do work.  We still have a long way to go, but we are doing his work all-along-the-way.  Doing ministry is preparing, and preparing is doing ministry.

What has God put on your heart for ministry?

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Olympic-Style Faith – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Feb 24, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Olympic-Style Faith – Pastor Mark

Is it just me – or are the Olympic athletes even more amazing than ever this year?

Whether it’s trying to imagine how fast the downhill racers travel or how high the slope-style snowboarders launch into the air, this year’s athletes have me hunting for new adjectives.  I wore out “Wow!” by Saturday.  And I love the ads that go in reverse and take us back to the firsts: the first time a tough little guy laces on his skates or a cute little girl hops on a snowboard.

Every journey has a beginning.  Every dream starts with that first attempt.  Every gold medal journey comes complete with starts and stops, raised arms and face plants, tears and blood, and that dogged determination to get up, do it again and get it right!

As you and I live our lives and watch the “Olympic athletes” of Scripture we run the risk of being overwhelmed.  “I could never have faith like that!”  “I tried to forgive and I couldn’t do it.”  “I’ve prayed for 6 weeks (or 6 months or 60 years) and nothing happens.”  How did Abraham do it?  What was Joseph’s secret?  Who can even think about following in Job’s footsteps?  We run the risk of quitting; giving up and believing that this isn’t for us.

I could quote 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 here.  It’s pretty Olympic!  Instead, I’m drawn to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

But he (the Lord) said to me (Paul), “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When things are about you and me, they are always going to fall short of the goal.  When they are about Him, the attempts that may not appear “golden” to us may be, in His eyes, a perfect 10.  So let’s “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

– Pastor Mark 

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Living in Two Worlds – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Living in Two Worlds – Pastor Mark

I’ve never used a snowboard but I can imagine that trying to transition to one after having only used skis would be a disaster.  It would take me a lot of time – and probably a trip or two to the ER!  But that’s how learning happens.  As a follower of Jesus Christ you have to learn how to live in two worlds.  On one hand, you’re comfortable living in this natural world of sky and trees and butterflies and bananas.  But when you encounter Christ and you start to learn about living in the supernatural world of faith and prayer and Bible readings that speak of angels and talking eagles, it can get tricky.  It takes some getting used to.  But as you practice you gradually come to realize that both worlds are equally real and exist simultaneously.

Philip Yancey writes, “Jesus does not say, ‘My kingdom is not of this world, so therefore just sit around and wait for the next one.’  Rather, he says, in effect, “My kingdom is not of this world, so therefore go and fulfill the two greatest commandments, to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself, and in so doing, you will point the way to my kingdom.”’  That’s good advice.

God may challenge you this year to feel the tension of living more in both worlds. And if he does, just remember, It doesn’t happen overnight.  You will have days where you lay your head on the pillow and realize that you hardly thought of God at all that day.  But then you will have those days, too, when eternity seems so close you could reach out and touch it.  You will begin to realize, like you do when you live in an apartment with thin walls, that this world is not all there is.  There’s more and that ‘more’ is what you’re made for.

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Seeing Through New Eyes – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Sep 30, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Seeing Through New Eyes – Pastor Mark

The big event for our family this year has been our daughter’s wedding.  It was a beautiful wedding and a day we will never forget – for all the good reasons!  I have many things I could reflect on in relation to that event but I will limit myself to just one.  It is this.  I was very surprised at how different it felt to be “Father of the Bride” versus being the “Officiating Minister.”  This time I was the one walking my daughter up the aisle.  Rather than asking, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” I was the one answering. I knew all that had gone into making this day special.  I was aware of the huge significance of the commitment being made.  I had walked the “wedding journey.”  I saw a wedding through new eyes.  The next wedding I officiate will be done with a deeper appreciation for all the emotions involved, all the work that has gone into the big day, and all the dynamics going on, both for the couple and for family and friends.

That experience made me think of where Jesus taught about judging.  Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t that I had a judgmental attitude in other people’s weddings.  Just the opposite, I love to be part of weddings.  Rather, it was that I just didn’t have a full picture of everything that had gone into it.  In Matthew 7:1 we read, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Our Savior warns us not to be judgmental of others, primarily because we do not have a full picture of everything that is happening in another person’s situation.

It’s important for us to realize that this is not a blanket statement against all critical thinking.  Rather it’s a call to be discerning rather than negative.  There are times for critical thinking.  Jesus taught about exposing false teaching and Paul taught about the importance of holding one another accountable.  Jesus’ main emphasis here is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up.

So I think Jesus would have liked our saying, “You can’t understand another person’s experience until you walk a mile in their shoes.”  For me, it didn’t take a mile, just a few dozen steps up the aisle with our daughter on my arm.

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Reading Music – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Reading Music – Pastor Matt

When I was a kid I played the violin.  I wanted to be Itzhak Pearlman, sawing out a solo with an orchestra to support me.  Alas my days as a performer were short, but I did practice a lot.   When I was first learning how to read music, my violin instructor would “number” the notes.  In other words, above each note she would write in the number of the corresponding finger: 1 would be my index figure, 2 would be my middle finger etc…

I learned a number of songs with this visual aide.  After a year of playing, I suddenly found that I no longer needed the numbering.  I could read Pachelbel’s Cannon by sight.  I became somewhat proficient at reading cold music.  Then, like many kids, I promptly quit the violin to focus on more interesting things like throwing stuff off bridges and annoying my older brother.

But that was an interesting process.  At some point I was able to read music, but it happened not by rigorous focus.  I didn’t learn to read music because my teacher drilled me every day to recognize the subtle differences in notes.  I learned how to read the notes because of the visual aide.  I went from total ignorance to sudden competence.

There is this parable in Mark where Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God.  He says that the kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seeds on the ground.  The seeds are given life by water and begin to sprout until they form into the beginnings of grain.  Suddenly, there is a whole field that is ready to be harvested.  When the time comes, the man will use his sickle to harvest the ready grain.

This parable is about how the kingdom of God works.  We tend to put much value in doing the spectacular.  We like the new things.  We want drastic change for the good.  But this parable says something different.  The kingdom of God grows because we are faithful to do God’s work.  The man who planted the seeds was faithful to do his part.  Everything else was done for him.  The plants grew without his hands and ideas muddling every thing.  Finally, when the grain was ready he took out his tools and went to work.

This is how God’s kingdom works.  The harvest does not come because we have controlled the growth of the grain.  The harvest comes by the grace of God.  And when it does we are ready.

So our role is to be like the man who scatters the seeds.  We are faithful to do what we have been called to do, and we are faithful to wait.

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