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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prayer request

please pray for James Salazars grandma. She fell today. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Advent Devotional for today - from the perspective of the shepherd

A promised gift

Some gifts are unexpected. Some gifts surprise us.

I am a small man, with small thoughts. Simple thoughts. I don't have big plans. I don't get a thrill out of power or money or stuff. I just try to live a simple life. I work hard. I pay my bills. I do my best to lend a hand to those who need a little help. I do my best to stay out of trouble. I don't go looking for the spotlight, and I certainly don't consider myself to be elite by anyones measurement. I am just a simple guy.

That is what makes it so crazy. So unbelievable. Why would angels come to me. Why would God send his Heavenly host to talk to a bunch of shepherds. To announce to me the birth of His son. The birth of the messiah.

Certainly the messengers were supposed to go to Jerusalem. Perhaps they got lost. There is no way they mistook us for royalty. We were in a field, not a palace. And we were watching sheep, not tending to the affairs of government. You really can't make this stuff up. Imagine what it was like for me. What were you doing for most of this week? Maybe sitting in a office. Or Perhaps you were running errands, or getting in that last minute shopping. Imagine, if this last Wendesday night, as you walk out of store, with your dog food in the cart, and all of a sudden the sky opens up and in front of you is an Angel of the Lord proclaiming to you that there is a new King, just born, in a garage in Lakewood. And as soon as that Angel stops, an entire army of Angels start singing. It was the craziest thing.

Why would God choose us. Why would he send word to us. To be honest, I did not have much time to think about why. You see when someone comes from Heaven to tell you to go somewhere and see something, you go and you look. And that is what we did.

We went, and low and behold, there was the baby just the way the Angel's said it would be. But not at all as you would expect. I guess as I reflect on how God works, it lines up with my own life. So many promises of God have been fulfilled, and yet fulfilled in the most unlikely fashion. God promises he will care for us. He promises that he we protect us, and watch over us, and lead us and guide us, and He does! He does! But if were to script it, would you expect Noah to float to safety, with a pair of every animal onboard? Would you expect Old man Abraham to have a son? Would you expect Joseph to go from rotting in jail, to chief of staff in the Pharaoh administration? Would you expect the stuttering Mo-mo-mo-moses to demand the release of an entire race of slaves? How about the battle plan given to Joshua - march and sing, march and sing, blow trumpets on three, 1, 2, 3! And the walls came tumbling down. That is how is was. All my doubts. All my questions. All my thoughts of how crazy those old stories sounded. Those walls between me and God came tumbling down. As I looked in that manger, and I saw that baby, I knew it was true. I knew the whole thing was true. We all long for that. We all long for a moment of clarity. And once we get it, it changes everything. If God is real. If his promised gift is real. Then God has given us his very best. And as the joy wells up in our hearts, what can we give in return? What will we do? The very best thing we can do is to give Him our hearts. I know this is hard. Our hearts take a pounding in this world. We trust in people, only to be let down. We "put ourselves out there," only to be hurt, abused, forgotten or ignored. So when I say that you should love God, that you should trust God, that you should live a life of complete abandonment, following God, loving Him with all your heart and mind and soul. I know you may have doubts. I know you may think it too good to be true. I was just like you, till I walked into a barn, and saw God's promised gift. Trust me, its true, and if you give him your heart, he will never, ever break a promise.

Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Joy! Sermon for Dec 18 2011

Joy to the world

In the Old Testament, in the Prophet Zephaniah we read.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984) 14 Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. 16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

This paragraph is found at the end of a book that is for the most part not nearly this upbeat. Listen to chapter 1

10 “On that day,” declares the LORD, “a cry will go up from the Fish Gate, wailing from the New Quarter, and a loud crash from the hills.11 Wail, you who live in the market district[d]; all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with[e] silver will be ruined.12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs,who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.’
If we were to take the time to read the whole book (all three chapters) one gets the idea that something odd is happening here. God is proclaiming judgment and blessing at the same time. Do you remember the story of Paul and Silas

Acts 16

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

Praying and singing hymns to God.
Perhaps they were singing Zeph 3:17

17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

I was rereading some of one of my favorite books. Desiring God, by Dr. John Piper. And in it he explains some things that greatly impacted me early in life.
1) Passion is not bad, it is good and is to be encouraged.2) Christians should not avoid pleasure, or to put it another way most Christians do not live the life they were created to live because the spend so much time trying to diminish their God given desires.
3) We were created to desire, to delight, and to find joy in God. And only in God does our heart find satisfaction.
4) Thus the subtitle of the book, "meditations on Christian Hedonism."

These are really powerful ideas, and as we journey together as a church, I expect we will dig deeper into these truths, but today, I want us to consider what implications this might have for our Christmas celebration this week. The older I get the harder it is for me to find joy in Christmas. Is this true for you as well? Perhaps it is just the time of life I am in. The pace of life speeds up to an impossible speed. The tension between buying the perfect gift, and the lack of funds in the checking account creates stress. Pretty soon that jail cell that Paul and Silas were in starts to sound kind of inviting. Its quiet. There are no cell phones, or email, or Christmas letters to write. And yet we find in Zephaniah the direct imperative: Be glad and rejoice with all your heart!!!

Be glad? Can we order our emotions?

Is God unaware of my circumstances? Does he not see how hard life is? And suddenly something clicks. Suddenly, Ebonezer Scrooge wakes up. Suddenly, the Grinches heart begins to grow 3 sizes. Perhaps the joy is not to be found in the circumstances. Perhaps the Joy is to be found in God, who freely gives joy to all who seek him. What is the object of our delight?
This is the light bulb. This is the key. God is the source and object of our joy.

To the extent that we make proper use of the things and events in our life to see God, we will find joy.

We find this truth right in Zeph. "The LORD is mighty to save."

Do we have a clear picture of who God is?

"He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

You might ask, "Why does God take delight in me?"

When you give a present on Christmas morning, and the gift you give lights up the eyes of the one receiving the gift - we, the gift giver, experience delight." It is the same for God.

He delights in us, as we delight in him. It is not something we muster, as sometime we must at Christmas. We think of clever things to say if we receive a gift we do not want. a) Now there is a gift!
b) That will look great in my basement
c) I have been looking for a picture for my laundry room
d) I really don't deserve this

But the great thing is, when God gives us himself, he gives the very best. And our joyful response, while it is commanded, is hard wired into our created being. two applications:

1) Have you, like me, taken your eye off of Jesus, and allowed your circumstances to dictate your disposition? Stop it.

2) This Christmas, do not expect to find joy in the things and the experiences, but in the creator of the things and the experiences, JOY TO THE WORLD...THE LORD HAS COME!

Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Sermon from last week

My thoughts on Story of the Rich Young Ruler

My thoughts on Story of the Rich Young Ruler
Matt 19:16

1) The rich guy wants eternal life, he does not mention "a relationship with God."
2) Jesus points to the "Holy One" - a person, and that if you want life, live in right relationship with Him (obedience).
3) Which rules must I obey?
4) Lets start with a few of the Big 10...
5) Oh I am all over those...
6) How about selling your possessions. (This is an odd request in light of the culture. Riches = Blessed, Good people get good things, bad people have nothing). To be poor is to step away from the Blessing...
7) Man walked away sad, he had great wealth.
8) Jesus says, " Such a shame that guy is so far away from entering the Kingdom."
9) Disciples blown away, laughing at Jesus' analogy, and a bit puzzled..."Who can be saved?'
10) With man this is impossible, but with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE
11) Peter says, we have left everything to follow you...
12) Then Jesus says, When everything gets renewed, and I sit down on my glorious throne, you who have followed me will sit on your own thrones and judge the 12 tribes. And everyone who has left stuff will get 100 times as much and inherit eternal life.
13) the first will be last and the last will be first (Disciples first - poor Jesus followers. Rich man last - rich rule follower)


Advent lessons: In a world dark with weight of law (and all of us law breakers), Jesus came
Jesus left all of his possessions and came to earth as a baby born in a manger
This act of love puts on display God's love. Jesus also models for us what is required to follow him. We must become like him.
Who can be saved? - - - no one, BUT WITH and I can be saved because of Christmas (and Easter)
Peter says, we left it all
Jesus says, one day you will have it all

Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik