#HerToo - Seeing Bathsheba and Standing with Her in Her Story

#HerToo - Seeing Bathsheba and Standing with Her in Her Story

This weeks devotional is by Pastor Jeff Mazzariello

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” - Psalm 82:3-4

I preached this week on Psalm 51: King David’s confession, repentance, and expectation of God’s generous forgiveness. It is a stunning proclamation of God’s willingness to keep engaging his people with truly Amazing Grace.

But David’s Psalm is in reference to the account of David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11 and 12) and that story is a difficult story to process (as many ancient stories can be) as we consider Bathsheba and how she was victimized. On the one hand, we want to celebrate the good news of confession and redemption when we (like David) sin, but we must not miss what this story also communicates about the devastating results of sin.

Read More

Making all things new : Life in Christ

Making all things new : Life in Christ

MAKING ALL THINGS NEW: Life in Christ

What a joy it’s been to dive in God’s Word with you! As promised, we want you to feel free to send us questions that arise as you read through the scriptures. Submit any questions to us here: grow@marincovenant.org

This week we looked at Rahab and seemingly fearless act of faith. If you missed the sermon, you can find it by clicking HERE.

Though she's lived a hard life and has only heard about God and God's power, when Rahab encounters the people of God (the spies sent by Joshua) she proclaims that she has faith in YAHWEH, the One True God. With this faith her life changes; something new has begun.

Read More

We become what we worship; fools

We become what we worship; fools

In our house, we were duped by the fun and seemingly lightheartedness of the Disney channel's lineup of family comedies. The favorite in our house was "Good Luck, Charlie." Like many other Disney shows, the kids are brilliant and clever and their parents, particularly the dads are complete morons.

As a family, we laughed together at the light-hearted comedy. We were thankful that there was something on the TV to watch. But over the course of a month or so we saw a change happen in our kids. They began to mimic the kids on the show and slowly, but surely, we, parents were the idiots. And, just like that, the Disney channel is off the air in our house. :)

This is a light-hearted example, but one that has deep ramifications. Think of the people you look up to and admire. Without even realizing it, your life has begun to mirror theirs. If you are not aware of that, both the good and the bad of that person will begin to infiltrate your thinking and your world view.

Read More

My story and the Story of God

My story and the Story of God

This week’s devotional is from Pastor Jeff.

(We are doing our Summer in the Scriptures Reading Plan together again. It started on Monday June 17, but you can join in anytime! Let’s do this! Here is the link to the plan in PDF format.)

ENCOUNTER: Read Jesus words in Luke 24:13-32

“They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” - v. 32 (NIV)

Here is the truth that I wanted you to hear last Sunday in my sermon: The story of our lives is always to be understood and interpreted in light of and as part of the larger story… The Story of God.

Read More

Can't have the remodeled bathroom without fixing the leak!

Can't have the remodeled bathroom without fixing the leak!

Everyone I meet with longs for God's best for them, the long to be the person that they are designed to be, they long to live in freedom! This is precisely what we have been preaching about over this last month. IT IS FOR FREEDOM THAT CHRIST HAS SET US FREE!!

While this is our heart's desire, we self-sabotage. So, if we are going to live in freedom then we must be free to do some of the scary work to clear the decks for freedom to happen.

Imagine you want to remodel your bathroom. It is only old and dated and the time is now! Most of us would like to simply knock out the shower and put in a new sink, paint the walls and call it a day. But in the process, you discover there is some mold. Our instinct is to look the other way and put the new furnishings in and paint over the mold and hope it goes away.

Everyone who knows anything about bathrooms knows that covering the problem with some new paint and furnishings just pushes the problem down the road and that problem will be exponentially more substantial when you are forced to deal with it. The correct way forward is to expose the mold, all of it! To find the leak and fix it! And then to put everything back together, usually at 4X's the cost. :) At least you now have a remodeled bathroom with everything in working order ready to be used for the next 15 years!

Read More

God Has Given You an A+

God Has Given You an A+

God Has Given You an A+

If you think back to your days in grade school you most likely fell into one of two categories: the students trying to catch up or the students trying to stay ahead. As Christians we can fall back into one of those categories, always thinking that there’s never enough we can do to make up for our past mistakes or we are constantly trying to do something to gain and keep God’s approval. Truth is, through Christ, God has already given you an A+ in the class of life. Because of the freedom that Christ has given us Christians already have an A. The lies that Satan tries to sell as truth (failure, judgment, and condemnation) have been washed clean by the blood of the lamb. We come in with a 4.0 gpa. There’s nothing we can do to make our grade better, and nothing we do will make our grade worse. 

Read More

The only thing that counts . . .

The only thing that counts . . .

I am not how this became important, but there is something in our core being that needs to compare ourselves to others. We know we are doing a good job by being better than others, by being further down the road than others. And we find peace when our tribe affirms us, our convictions and our lifestyles.

We do this in regards to politics, to health, to education, and especially to religion.

Christians have not been immune to this sort of judgementalism and self-righteousness. Strange since the core of Jesus' teaching is selflessness, humility, and love. Do not judge, lest you be judged. But we just can't help it!

But, if we are going to truly live into the freedom that Jesus has purchased for us, then we have to let others be free along their journey as well. It is this tension that is the core of the Christian community. It is this tension that is startling to the world and affirms our faith to those around us. They will know we are Christians by the way we love one another.

Read More

How is Jesus revealing himself to you?

How is Jesus revealing himself to you?

I think Easter is such an incredible day of celebration, and this last Sunday did not disappoint. I loved being together with my church family, leaning into this incredible theological and transformational truth. And the more I reflected on Easter, the more I longed to be more aware of the living God, the resurrected Jesus, in my life and in the world.

So many of us long for this to be more and more real in our lives, but most of us seem to miss it. It is probably because we are waiting for a sign from God, an unmistakable guide post, voice, or vision to confirm the reality of the resurrection. We think the incredible stories scattered throughout the scriptures are normative.

While those stories still may be normative, our timing is all messed up. Over the course of an entire life, God maybe shows up in a crazy and clear way once or twice. And those guys made the bible. For the vast majority of the people in the scriptures and in the world, Jesus reveals himself in more subtle ways over longer periods of time.

Read More

How to take Sabbath

How to take Sabbath

ENCOUNTER: Read Jesus words in Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

BE REFLECTIVE:

Last Sunday, at the end of my sermon on Pursuing a Life of Calm, Peace, and Rest, I left you with the challenge of considering God’s command to honor a Sabbath. “Are you serious?” was a common theme of the feedback that came my way. I also heard, “Maybe that works for other people’s lives, but certainly not mine.”

Read More

Working toward restored relationships

Working toward restored relationships

After my sermon on Sunday I have been wrestling with the message I preached. I love how much Jesus loves us, and I long to know that in the depths of my being. I can get my head, all day, around the idea that God loves me and when I sin, he forgives me, and when I betray him or ruin things, that he not only forgives me, but restores me. He restores our relationship, and restores my calling, allowing me to continue to serve Him and His Kingdom.

But what has given me pause this week is that this selfless love, this love that works towards restoration that we long to receive, MUST be directed towards those people in our life who have betrayed us, wronged us, broken us. This is master’s level love. This is what it means to not simply love others as we want to be loved, but to love others the way Jesus loves us.

So here is the hard work. Who in your life has wronged you? Who has broken relationship with you? Who have you closed the emotional vault on? Who is that person? _______________________________

Read More

Everything takes time!

Everything takes time!

My dream is to be fit like Brad Pitt. :) Truthfully, I would just like to be fit enough to feel good in my clothes, and be able to do active things without feeling like I am going to have a heart attack. Both the moderate attempt at health and the advanced attempt at health only happen with intention.

All growth only happens with intention. And even more than intention, is time and effort.

Think about a goal that you have had. Why haven’t you accomplished it? Usually it is because you got bored, didn’t see results fast enough, or you lost the will. Whether it is losing weight, playing an instrument, or mastering a skill, going from dream to accomplishment takes effort and time.

The exact same thing is true in our walk with Jesus and our pursuit of godliness.

Read More

Training for Godliness

Training for Godliness

I know. This is a bit of a hard sell. Most people don’t like the thought of training. “Training” conjures up images of our middle school gym teacher making us run laps until we feel like we are going to throw up.  “Training” makes us think (untrue) thoughts like God loves it when we are exhausted, miserable, and unhappy.  And it leads us almost directly to feelings of shame, because we know how fundamentally dis-inclined our DNA is toward discipline and consistency.

But this passage (and our sermon series on “The Pursuit of Godliness”) are actually really good news…

Read More

The Power of God is working in your life.

The Power of God is working in your life.

This week’s devo is from Pastor Dani

On Sunday we discussed the power of Jesus. God has given us the power to change the world. Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Before we can change the world we must first allow God to change us. How has the Gospel of Jesus’ power to reveal, revive, redirect, rev up, and reward affected you? In your quiet time read each of the scriptures and decide where you see God’s power showing up in your life. Then pray and ask God to provide power in the area where you need it most.

Read More

To whom is God calling you to serve?

To whom is God calling you to serve?

ENCOUNTER: Read Philippians 2:1-11

I wish that God would speak clearly to me and tell me what he would like me to do. At least, that is what I tell myself I wish. The truth is, nobody wants that. In fact, anybody who approached Jesus with a specific ask, his answer was always too challenging, and often left the other person distraught.

If we are honest, Jesus has been incredibly clear in his teaching about the kind of people he longs for us to be, the values he longs for us to have, and the people he longs for us to serve. The problem is that each one of these things is not about power or status. Following Christ into these things will never result in a larger bank statement, in career advancement, or in more status in your peer group. In fact, it will cost all three.

This passage in Philippians is so challenging because Paul doesn’t just teach this, but uses Jesus, our Lord and Savior, as the illustration, the example. Jesus, who was in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. In fact, took on the form of a servant, even to the point of death.

With all that in the background, what would happen if we ask the question again, “To whom is God calling me to serve?” Who are the people in your your world, your work place, your neighborhood that you can leverage your privilege and power to see, empathize with, and care for? That is a great place to start.

Every one of us should have people in our lives who we are to expend our resources and capitol on to serve for the sake of Christ.

Read More

FAITH: With Hearts In Hands and Brains In Cages

FAITH: With Hearts In Hands and Brains In Cages

Specious: apparently good or right thought lacking real merit; pleasing to the eye but deceptive.

“God said it; I believe it; that settles it” is one of those bumper sticker phrases that sometimes qualifies. Why? because though it initially sounds inspiring, bringing some Believers to their feet with loud cheering, it can also sound quite different to the populations Christ call his church to love and serve, like, “We’ve checked our brains at the door of the church” or “don’t confuse me with the facts.” Why? Because two of the three segments of that phrase are, to them at least, highly questionable. They may not be at convinced that God actually said it, nor are the willing to concede that anything is settled just because you might believe it.

Read More

God's love isn't what changes our lives

God's love isn't what changes our lives

For as long as I can remember, everyone in ministry has been trying to communicate to this broken world that there is a God and that this God loves them very much.  So much, that He gave His only son to pay for our sins so that we can be in a restored relationship.  And in this restored relationship, we can now be fully embraced by God and live in the spotlight of his love and affection.  We sing our anthem, "Reckless Love," and our congregations swoon and weep as we celebrate over and over how much God loves us.

It is nice that the warriors who have worked so hard at transforming God's image from a one of judgment and wrath to love have won!  In fact, they have gained so much that nobody in the western world would even consider that there is a God who has anger or wrath.  Ok, maybe some old skool boomers, and for sure some old skool boomer Catholics.  But everyone else has a one-dimensional view of God, and that is that God is Love!

Instead of our culture reciprocating God's love and returning His affection, we have become spoiled brats.  

We love that God loves us, and that means that he is never to stop pouring grace and blessing on us.  But when that gravy train ceases either by God's providence or by our dumb choices, we freak out and throw in the towel.

Read More

Finding Boo Radley in the Heart of God

Finding Boo Radley in the Heart of God

The 1962 film, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my all-time favorites. Of course, It’s the cinematic version Harper Lee’s novel by the same name. There are too many great and inspiring themes and subthemes in that story to cover them all, but one of my favorites is the subplot that focuses on the person of Boo Radley. If you recall, Boo was someone who was wildly misunderstood. In fact, he was rarely, if ever, even seen. Turns out, though, that while most people thought Boo was a dangerous, scary, figure with a cursed and dark heart, he was actually just the opposite. Instead of kidnapping, slaughtering, and even eating children (the unfortunate but popular myth about this enigmatic figure) he was a rescuer of them. In the end, instead of a propensity to thwart justice, seems Boo was a champion of it.

Read More

Out of Mazari

Out of Mazari

Last Sunday was our annual “Compassion Sunday” where we encourage partnership with “Compassion International” to address and confront profound poverty in the lives of children through personal sponsorships. We were blessed to host Kennedy Krezi who grew up in the Nairobi slum of Mazari and is a graduate of the Compassion program there. Joining him in sharing some of their experiences, though, were three members of the team of MCC folk that recently returned from a trip to Nairobi to meet the children they are sponsoring.

Read More