This is the story of a collection of people who follow Jesus. We live in Littleton. We encounter people in the name of Jesus, we allow Jesus to turn us into disciples, we gather often, and we equip people to love and serve other people better.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer is here


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Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Picture of a Sweet cloud over our casa.


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Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik

Sermon for tomorrow.

We are spending May renewing our vision.  What is it we are trying to accomplish as a missional community in Littleton.  We started by looking at Paul's directive to forget what is behind and press on toward the goal from Colossians.  Then we turned to 2 Corinthians and asked "What motivates us?"  We discovered that we have two motives - the Fear of God and the Love of God.  

This week we ask "How?"  What does the daily life of a Christian look like?  What does a healthy church look like?  How does it operate?  To find our answers we turn to Romans 12.  

Romans 12:1-7

Today's lesson is a meditation on the first seven verses of Romans.  A passage writing by Paul to Christians living in Rome, to both explain his doctrine, and to apply those teachings in practical ways.  This chpt. is where the practical teaching begins.  

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 

This verse has all kinds of thougths wrapped up in it.  What is worship?  What is its relationship to sacrifice?  What is the connection between God's mercy and our worship?  What kind of worship is acceptable?

What is worship - it is recognizing the "worth" of something.  That is valuable to me!
All worship involved sacrifice.  Choosing to allocate resources that might be used somewhere else to the object of worship.  If you worship golf, you play a lot of golf.  You spend time, money, and energy.  If you worship God, you consciously focus your time and energy pursuing God.  You spend money.  You give it to a church, you spend it at bookstores.  You attend conferences.  You turn on your radio.  You turn off your television.  You read the Bible.  You pray.  All of this costs something.

"In view of God's mercy" means that all of this is done not to earn God's mercy, but because that mercy has already been freely given, thus you are free to pursue God.  

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Again a phrase loaded with meaning.  How are we to relate to the world?  How do we discover God's will in this world?  Answers: we are to look different than the world.  We renew our mind, and are thus transformed so that are able to test various options and discover the road that God wants us to travel.  The good, pleasing and perfect road.  

Humble Service in the Body of Christ

 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

This is where I want us to spend the majority of our time today.  Humble service in the Body of Christ is the subheading in my Bible.  The first few verses are remarkably practical.  Do not be proud.  Rather recognizing that God gave you all the talents and abilities you have, use your gift where it may best be applied.  

If you are a prophet - do prophet things.  If you are a server - then serve.  If you are a teacher - then teach.  If you are an encourager - encourage people.  If you are a giver - then give generously.  If you are a leader - lead well.  If you are a mercy giver - cheerfully give.

That is one wonderful description of a healthy church.  Everyone is doing there thing.  

It reminds me of a strong local economy.  Do you remember on Seaseme Street when they would sing about the people that you met each day.  Each person was cheerfully doing their job.  

It really is that simple.  And yet, there are days when it seems impossible.  And I gotta ask, why?  Why is it so hard to find your niche and settle into it.  I have a few reasons that come to mind. 

1) Jealousy.  I want your gift.  I want to be you.  It is the age old grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

God has given each of us a gift, and all are equally important.

2) Fear.  I don't want to really jump into a situation where others are counting on me, because I may let them down.  

Don't bury your gift under a tree

3) Arrogance.  I don't need your gifts, I can do this all by myself.

Hear the words of this passage.  Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought.

Conclusion:  Shape class is a class designed to help you find your place in ministry.  We are going to go through the class again soon.  Please sign up and come spend some time seeking out what God's good and pleasing and perfect place of service is for you.  

Mark Kraakevik

Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tomorrow's sermon - 2 Cor. 5:11-21

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

The Ministry of Reconciliation

 11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 

***This is Paul saying- Our perspective is correct.  We are living in a constant awareness of God, and in proper respect to him at all times.  And as we live that way, we are looking to persuade those around us to turn to God.  This requires a certain amount of "hey, look over here...this is really cool" kind of living.  It means at least initially we draw attention to ourselves in order that we might then draw attention to God.  In doing this there is a fear that people think we think we are all that, and this is why Paul says--What we are is plain to God and I hope plain to you as well.***

12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 

***Not sure what is going on here.  Sounds like Paul is asking for money, i.e. support from this church, and is not wanting them to be offended by his asking, but wanting them to take pride in the ministry that Paul is doing, as well as be able to answer those who want to see outward success as opposed to heart changing ministry.***

13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 

***Pursuing God often requires behavior that is completely contrary to what common sense says to do.  If we are in our right minds, it is because we want to convince as many people as possible to follow this radical road.***

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 

***Christ's love compels us - we are motivated by love.  Love gets us going.  Love gets the wheels turning.  Love moves us.  This would be my major disagreement with Atlas Shrugged.  That movie/book suggests that it is not love but profit that is the primary mover of the the world.  That when you allow people to make things, and make a profit on things, without interference, that really good things happen.  I would suggest that love is the primary mover for a Christian.  And it is not just our love for each other that motivates us.  Because our love is imperfect at best.  It is the love of Jesus.  Look at this sentence.  We are convinced that one died for all.    What does that mean?  Was Jesus scared to die?  No.  What brought him to a point of fear was the wrath of God being poured out on him.  The wrath of God directed at every person who has ever walked this planet.  One died for all.  And therefore all died - meaning our death has already happened in his death.  Everything that was to fear about death has been removed but His death.***

15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

***So how does this change the way we live.  We no longer live for ourselves, but for him who died.  Why are we here?  To serve Jesus.  Our one and only purpose, that overrides all other purposes is to serve Jesus.  So then I have some practical questions.  How important is it to come to church?  How important is it to give to church?  How important is it to talk to your neighbors and friends about Jesus?  How important is your small group?***

 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 

***What on Earth does this mean?  Does it mean we see people as desperately in need of Jesus.  Do we see them as living with upside down motives.***

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 

***I love this verse.  I memorized this verse many years ago.  It is the verse I cling to when times get rough.  When it all seems so hopeless, this verse brings joy.  It brings hope.  When we are in Jesus, we are a completely new creation.  Today, I re-synced my iPod.  It asked me if I wanted to erase the music and videos and write over them with the music on my computer.  I said YES, and my iPod became new again.  Everything changed.  What was there before is gone, and what is there now was not there before.***

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 

***This is perhaps the most bizarre part of a truly mind-boggling God.  He has turned to us to be his voice.  We are to live lives that are so in tune with his goodness and his love that people will be drawn to Him.***

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 

***What is the best news you have ever got to give?  Perhaps you remember calling your family and friends to say you were engaged, or calling your parents to let them know they have a new grandchild.  Or to tell your friends that you got that job you wanted, or that you have won the lottery.  We have news that blows away all of those.  Add them all together, multiply by a million and you still are not even close.  God no longer counts people's sin against them.  Forgiveness is available.  Life no comes with a Do Over Button.***

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

WE MIGHT BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD!!!  That is just crazy talk.  It is insane.  Who would believe that?  We have available to us the power to live a life that is no longer evil.  A life that goes beyond even neutral.  We can live a perfect life!  How?  By faith in God!!

Title: Why serve? Motives for Ministry.

Question one: Why didn't God take us to heaven the moment we believed in his
saving grace?

Answer:  We are here to serve.

Question two: If you were to write on a sheet of paper all the ways you served
this week, what would you write? 

Observation: If you approached your employer with the same answers, it would
not go well. 

Question three: why do we serve?

Answer one: We fear the Lord. (I Cor. 5:11)

Let's reverse this one.  If you are not serving, does this indicate a lack of fear.  Do you believe that it really does not matter whether or not you serve Jesus.  When you die, what do you intend to tell Jesus about how you lived?

Answer two: We are compelled by love (I Cor. 5:14)

Do you truly understand how much Jesus loves us?  Do you understand what he offers to us?  Are you willing to give your life to a God who loves you that much?

Mark Kraakevik

Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Happy Mother's Day - Worthy to be Praised!

We find in these verses in Proverbs 31 a list of virtues.  A description of a woman that a mom wants her son to marry (check the first verse of the chapter).  And yes, even back then, the mom's standards were impossibly high for the wife of her son. 

But at the same time, we discover here the description of a very modern woman.  She is industrious.  She buys and sells property, she makes clothes and sells them, she propels her husband to roles of leadership, she rises early, and goes to bed late.  She is tired!


Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
 10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
   She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
   and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
   all the days of her life.

The husband lacks nothing of value (she is of upmost value) as long as he has her, he has all he will every need.

Adam and Eve in the garden - AT LAST!!  God has finally given me the one I have been looking for. 

This is not to dimish single people, God has different plans for all of us.  But in the story of Adam and Eve we discover that God has made husband and wife to complete one another, to help one another. 

And jumping ahead to Proverbs, we see what that looks like when the two work together, and we see it from the viewpoint of the woman.  And it is an amazing description.  The husband has full confidence in her!!  Listen to the way her day unfolds...

13 She selects wool and flax
   and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
   bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
   she provides food for her family
   and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
   her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
   and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
   and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

While this part of the story is told from early morning to late at night, keep in mind this is not "one woman" but rather the descriptions of many "idealized" women.  These are the type of woman that this mom wants her son to find.  Look for someone who possesses this kind of drive and ambition.

Next we get her role in society...

20 She opens her arms to the poor
   and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
   for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
   she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
   and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.

I should mention that this is an acrostic, with each phrase starting with another letter of the alphabet.  It is like those kids books we read.  A is for Ambitious.  B is for Baker, C is for the Cookies she makes, D is for Developer, as she develops the urban landscape, buying and selling land...

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”

Ah, the favorite quote of my mother.  "Oh to have children like this.  If only they would rise and call me blessed."  :)

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

This final piece is the capstone.  It is not her work that makes her ultimately worthy of praise (although that would be enough).  Ultimately it is the fact that she fears the Lord that makes her worthy of praise.  Not her charm, not her beauty, it is her fear of God.  She understands that their is a God, and that she is not HIM.  Therefore, honor her works, for they come from a heart of worship! 

Today we gather to tell our mom's thank you. 

Thank you to the stay at home moms, the go to work moms, the single moms, the divorced moms, and we say thank you to those who are moms in the way they bring up the girls around them, though they may not be biological moms, they are spiritual moms. 

To all the mom's - thank you!!

Dear Mom,

I know I do not say it often enough, and I know that I should do more to reflect my gratitude.
I just want you to know I love you.  I really appreciate all the work you have done through the years to make it possible for each of us to do the things we wanted to do.  To live in a great house.  To eat together and enjoy great food and laughter.  You created a place where we could be individuals.  Where we could try and fail, and not be shamed or diminished. 

Thank you.


Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik

Thursday, May 05, 2011