Pastor's Blog
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February 28, 2019, 3:20 PM

From the Pastor - Ash Wednesday

As February draws to a close, many in the church begin thinking about Easter. Easter is more than a moment in the Christian church; it is the defining moment. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the foundation upon which the the church is built. Because of its importance, one does not simply “drop into” Easter. We approach it slowly, with awe and reverence. The church, through the ages, has developed rituals and public services that were and are designed to help a Christian get ready for the holy moment that is Easter Sunday. As a pastor, it is my desire and hope to help all of us better understand the moments and events leading up to Easter Sunday so we will all be better prepared. I shall begin with Ash Wednesday.

On Ash Wednesday, Christians of many different backgrounds gather together and, in some form or fashion, have the sign of the cross made on their forehead with ashes. Like many rituals and services in the Christian church today, this began during a time when there was only one church, the Roman Catholic Church. So, when people say that Ash Wednesday is a “Catholic thing” they are in some respect correct. However, the imposition of ashes (the churchy way of saying “placing ashes on your forehead”) was carried into the first reformation churches that broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. It was examined and prayed over by pious, Godly men (and some women too) and for many, it was decided that it was important and worth carrying forward into their “new” churches.

The reason comes from a reading in the book of Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 19. Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. God addressed their sin, and the consequences when he made the following proclamation:

“By the sweat of your brow
          you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
          since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
          and to dust you will return.”

This passage also formed Christian burial services where the pastor, or the pastor and the people, proclaim “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” as they place a handful of dirt on the coffin after it is laid to rest. It is a reminder to each of us of our own mortality. We were created, we will live, and we will die. We were made from dust, given life by the breath of God Himself, and one day we shall return to the dust.

On Wednesday, March 6 at 7:00 pm, we will gather at Lake Union Church (you are all formally invited) and spend time pondering our mortality, God’s goodness, and how those two things connect. Please join us!

In God’s Grip,
Pastor Mark

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December 10, 2018, 8:00 AM

Christmas is my favorite time of the year...

Dear Friends,

Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and I know I am not alone. It's impossible to deny the amazing feelings that we all experience every year at this time. The familiar songs being plaed literally everywhere, the shopping, the special times at church, and the family celebrations all remind us that it is a different season indeed.

In the midst of all this hoopla, we cannot forget the world-changing event that we celebrate on Christmas. God came to Earth, in the weakest of all forms, to reach His creation in a way that we needed. This humility, this love, this demonstration of ultimate power setting aside all rights and privilege; this changed the world! As we enter this marvelous season at Lake Union, I wanted to bring some things to your attention. I'll start with the biggest change; we are going to be holding FOUR services for Christmas. We want to make sure that there is room for everyone, and we know you do too. On Sunday, December 23, we will meet at 9 and 10:30 am. On Christmas Eve, we will meet at 4 and 5:30 pm. The services will be different each day, and I encourage you to make time for both. I believe you will be blessed as you set aside time for Jesus this season!

I want to thank you for making Lake Union your church home. I'm glad you are here, and I am praying that all of you have an amazing Christmas season this year.

In God's grip,
Pastor Mark

October 14, 2018, 12:00 AM

A word about my message today, "Share Your Story" - October 14, 2018

Dear friends,

Today after church I had a great conversation with a young man about something I said in my sermon.

In my message, I mentioned that we are all responsible for the idea that we are supposed to share our stories. I also said that no one could stand before God and say “I had no idea.” In speaking with this gentleman, it became clear that anyone could have heard me saying that somehow this action, our sharing, could or would be used to judge whether or not God would accept us and let us into Heaven. We had a good discussion, and I hope I was able to assure him that I did not mean that. Since I cannot sit down with each of you, I decided to write this blog post.

Exactly what happens when we die is always going to be something of a mystery and a constant source of discussion and debate. In order to get this post online before I am 50 years old, I cannot make it an exhaustive bible study. But please know that it is biblically based.

When we die, we will certainly face a final judgement. Each of us will be called to account for what we have done with our life. How exactly that will look is unknown. Scripture promises us two things: 1) We will fall short of God’s perfect plan for our lives. We have all sinned. 2) If we follow Jesus, He will cover us and our sins will not be counted against us.

Any other details, or procedural elements that we may or may not be able to guess at from certain bible verses is at best a secondary point. We have all sinned, and in Christ we are all covered.

What I failed to bring up in my message, and to some degree with the young man after church, is this: I hope that the only time you talk to God will not be on your final judgement day. I pray that all of us talk to God daily, and that in those discussions we are sometimes encouraged, sometimes challenged and sometimes given a glimpse of what exactly God is trying to do through us here on earth. In those discussions, when any of us have heard a word of truth about how we are to live, we cannot claim ignorance before God. It is this daily, sometimes hourly, interaction with God that I was speaking of this morning.

Thanks to all of you for attending Lake Union Church, listening to the messages and following Jesus in your own brave way!

Click here to listen to the audio of today's message.

In God’s grip,
Pastor Mark

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September 28, 2018, 12:00 AM

From the Pastor - October 1, 2018

Dear friends,
The October calendar has been out for a a few weeks now, and most of you have noticed that youth are NOT meeting for three of the five Wednesdays in October.  I do want to offer a little of the reasoning behind my decision.
A brilliant theologian, H. Richard Niebuhr, wrote a short book about how Christians relate to the culture around them. In Christ and Culture, he sets out three basic patterns for this interaction: 1) Christ against culture, 2) Christ of culture, and 3) Christ above culture. You may strongly identify with one of these ideas, or you may see some of each of them in the way you follow Jesus.
In the first pattern, Christ against culture, one sees Christians taking a stand against culture. This may have some roots in the various holiness movements that have been a part of the church's history. The word "Holy" literally mans to be set apart as, in our case, for God. What could be more holy, more set apart, than making a conscious decision to be different than the culture around us? The Amish people may be our closest highly visible community that seems to be living this way. One problem that occurs is that in rejecting culture and radically living against it, you can still miss Christ.
The second pattern, Christ of culture, occurs when there is a dominant Christian theme in the national and cultural fabric. The Christian empire of Constantine as well as the American culture of the middle of the last century are good examples of this. In these lands, and with this model, Jesus is everywhere but sometimes seems to have no transformative power to change the culture let alone the individual. There are national and Christian symbols intertwined, and there is a deep assumption that God not only has blessed the culture but will assure continued dominance. One pitfall with this model is that when Christ and culture become one in the same then it is easy to assume that anything we do is automatically the Christian, biblical and right thing to be doing. Prayer and bible study can fall by the wayside as we sit in what we are certain is the center of God's will.
The third pattern, Christ above culture, has been the position that the church has occupied for most of its life. In this model, Christ is seen as more important than in the culture the church lives. When there is conflict between the two, Christ wins both in our lives and in the world. In this pattern, Christians do not need to fear culture as something that can corrupt or conquer Christ. We do not need to shy away from engaging the culture or worry that our faith will fail in the face of the world.
Personally and professional, I have always held to the third pattern. I see the benefit in being flexible with our program scheduling in order to engage our world.  When the church moves beyond it's physical walls, it's a win-win situation. The church wins when it sees that Christ is the victor, and the world wins when it gets to see Christians living out their faith beyond the walls of the church!
In God's Grip,
Pastor Mark


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August 15, 2018, 12:00 AM

There is room for you!

Dear friends,

The minions are working frantically behind the scenes to get everything lined up for Lake Union’s fall programs. While no one can predict just what it will end up looking like, I can assure with 100% confidence there is room for you!

Some of you reading this may have only visited us one or two times. That’s cool; I am not trying to rush any decision you may be making. I just want to make sure you know we are glad you checked us out. If you made the decision to stay where you were or make a new start somewhere else, just email us and we will take you off our lists.

Others made the decision to call Lake Union home but aren’t quite sure how to get started. (I know there are two or three families in this boat.) Your first step is to email us and make sure that Lynette has the right contact info for you and your family. Step it up a notch and let us know what grade your kids are in, and we can make sure you get the best, age appropriate communications.

There are a few folks I have not seen in a while. Some of you have cabins, some of you have had a crisis that has kept you away, and still others have just had too much going on these past few months. It gets easier and easier to stay away and sleep in on Sunday mornings. I urge you to break that habit! Come back, we love you and miss you. There is an open seat, a cup of coffee waiting to be filled, and a smile and handshake when you come in the front door. If you are wondering what you’ve been missing, check out the past issues of “The Landing” and see what your church family has been doing. If you have any questions about the fall programs, just reply to this email and we will see what we can do to help you out.

To the rest of you, it has been an exciting and amazing summer. It would not have been the same without you. I am looking forward to getting back from vacation and diving into the new program year (as opposed to the waters of the Caribbean that I will have been diving into for over a week...).

I am truly blessed to serve as your Pastor, and I thank you for the privilege.  

In God’s Grip,
Pastor Mark

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