Books and Bibles

For some time now I’ve noticed the difference between using my electronic, digital Bibles (mostly on my iPad, sometimes on the phone) as compared to using my regular, print Bibles.  I have never really left the printed Bible for my devotional reading or preaching.

I grew up using mostly one Bible, until college. I remember the pastor saying, “let’s turn…” and we did. Everybody. The sound was awesome. But better than that was the familiarity I had with my Bible.  I grew to know where certain passages were on the page.  Obviously, with time and a growing library of Bibles, I lost some of that.  I appreciate the various translations that have been produced through the years for the benefit of study and clarity, but I really do miss everyone (mostly) being on the same page.

I came across an article recently that I resonated with on a similar topic: digital books. I have a great library in print but an outstanding library in digital format. I read with the Kindle app on my iPad mostly, then of course there’s the enormous Logos library that still blows me away every time I open it.

Yet, Michel Hyatt’s words spoke to me of the reality that there’s just nothing like reading the printed book over the digital.  I too have no plans to disband the digital library or the continued building of it, yet I feel the freedom to admit that I not only like but need to return more to the printed library, mostly for the same reasons Hyatt mentions in the linked article.  You should read it. I won’t copy it here, but go check it out.

I love that many people read the Bible electronically, and I will too. But there is nothing like the familiar feel and sight of my Bible, with underlinings and notes and worn corners.

What do you think?

The manger, the cross, and the tomb

He came

He died

He rose from the dead

That’s been our theme this Christmas in “The Wonder of Christmas”. It’s still a wonder that He came to us in a manger. It’s a wonder that He took my place on a cross. He died for me. It’s a wonder that a place where dead bodies lay is found empty. He arose victorious over death. So I,too, can know eternal life!

When you see the manger you must see the cross. He didn’t just come on a silent night. He came in humility to take on my punishment.

When you see the empty tomb, you know He’s alive and He’s coming again.

Join us at Grace Community tomorrow for one of our two Christmas Eve services at Sinagua.  The Wonder of the Manger.

Come at 4:30 (with childcare for infants through preschool) or at 5:45 (with no childcare). All are welcomed! Invite family and friends to join you. Arrive early. You don’t want to miss the opening!

Merry Christmas

The Truth behind Giving Thanks

My house is full of family and there are about 7 different conversations going on and a few singing and a game is being played and pictures are being shared and others are in the kitchen grazing.


We had a great thanksgiving day with all the traditional treats and accompanying stresses of hurrying up and saying hellos and goodbyes all too quickly.  Thanks for all who came and shared the day together.

I woke up this morning feeling lousy. Like sick. I probably won’t die of this, but just enough of a sore throat to keep me somewhat isolated and careful at best. So, here I sit in the other room, listening and checking in with you.

Like some, Laurie and I have a pretty quiet home. For whatever reasons the Lord never gave us children. We love the extended families that we share. But there’s nothing like family actually filling the house. IMG_4679Thanksgiving 2015

Our hearts are full.

Laurie would say that too, but now she’s busy playing Christmas songs accompanying a few of the sibs.  All is good. Truth is, it’s always good because God is good and His gifts are good. Somedays we get to live in the awareness of His goodness more than others. So, with grateful hearts, let’s never tire of saying Thanks. To God. To each other.

The Big Finish to the Beatitudes

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:10 ESV

Why does “persecution” follow “peacemakers”?

When is my suffering persecution and when is it just punishment?

“When a man is called on to suffer something for his Christianity that is always a crucial moment; it is the great occasion; it is the clash between the world and Christ; it is a moment in the drama of eternity. To have a share in such a moment is not a penalty but a glory.”  Barclay

This past Sunday we finished the first section on the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus did; with talk of persecution and the desired blessing that comes with suffering for righteousness sake.  To follow the saints and prophets who have gone before us, to be different from the world, not because we’re righteous, but because Jesus is. To taste of the agony of being called names and mocked at, all because those who don’t yet know Jesus only know there’s a difference. And we’re called to live in that difference.

“Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.”

  • Pray for the persecuted church around the world.
  • Pray for brothers and sisters in your community being harassed and mistreated as they live out the Kingdom principles of Matt 5.
  • Pray for a prepared heart for when the insults and rejections come your way.
  • Rejoice and endure

When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. 1 Cor 4:12-13

41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.  Acts 5:41

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:10

Give thanks to the Lord for what He suffered for our sake and for the privilege to be called His.


Power in Prayer: Especially for our Missionary Friends

We believe in prayer.

Prayer for each other, for friends that don’t know God loves them yet, prayer for our church, our nation, our missionaries. Ah, yes, the missionaries.

It’s easy to lump them all together in a quick moment of “Lord, bless all the missionaries”, isn’t it?  And they might even say “we’ll take what we can get”. But actually prayer is a lot more than the quick, all-inclusive broad brush stroke of divine ‘blessing’ on whoever and wherever and whatever it is they actually need.

Prayer is a specific conversation between you and our Almighty God!  He teaches us to pray, He awaits our prayer, and He hears our prayer.  Sometimes our prayers may seem quick and sound much like the last time we prayed. I’m betting God is saying, “Come on kid, go ahead and put a little something on that. You’re talking to me and I’ve got all day, I’m all yours!”  Isn’t it amazing that God invites us to come to Him, to share our heart and our hurts and our desires?

A few weeks ago in our study of 2 Thessalonians we came across this little jewel of powerful prayer:

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you.  2 Thessalonians 3:1

Powerful prayer is specific. Nothing wrong with asking God for “blessings” for our missionaries. But what Paul says is, “listen, the Word of God came to you so you now know Him and have a cool church. As we continue to do missionary work pray for us. But not just for safety or blessing or prosperity or good health. Pray that God’s Word would go forward, and go fast!”  That’s what I call the Urgency of Grace! When people hear the Word, they can respond in faith becoming followers of Jesus Christ, therefore they are also honoring, or glorifying God, just by being His!  How many people need Jesus?  All of them!


Jaron, Nicki, Noelia and Evalie Rogers

At Grace we’ve been blessed to see several of our missionaries over the past few months. Most recently the Rogers stopped in this past Sunday. You can hear Jaron’s message here.  As we send them off, let’s remember how to best pray for them and our other missionaries and ministries. That God’s Word would do what only God’s Word can do. Change lives for eternity. 

Favorite Apps

I keep meaning to say something about a couple of new apps. I don’t hear much of people talking about ‘favorite’ apps much anymore. I think everyone is kind of on their own. And there doesn’t really seem to be too much room left for the latest coolest. But in case you still have a little room…

A couple of weeks ago I found two new apps that I really like:

Skyview and GoISSWatch

I’m intrigued watching the International Space Station go overhead usually in good view about once a night.

The Skyview is just cool to get your bearings.  Have fun.

Rest is Good

I’m hesitant to use the word rest because I usually envision a hammock on a beach, or a carefree stroll through a new place with no obligations or cares. The truth is, rest comes in many sizes and shapes.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters. 

He restores my soul.  Psalm 23:2–3 

For the past several weeks I’ve had a change in my routine. And overall, it’s been restful. Part of my time was spent vacationing with family. Some time was given to study and research. Sprinkled throughout was the occasional meeting with individuals, staff and leaders. But overall, this time has been a good change of pace. Lots of travel. Lots of hiking. Lots of time working from home with my sweetheart nearby. I feel rested. And ready.

The way the travels and study time fell, I was able to be in attendance at Grace for all but one of the Sundays. I was so blessed by the teaching at Grace from our pastors and elders. Thanks men, for feeding our church so well.

Now I’m back in my office preparing for this week’s message from Second Thessalonians chapter one.  Read the chapter this week, let’s both come prepared!

  • We have the privilege this week to celebrate baptisms at Grace. Always a celebration!
  • This coming Monday begins our Vacation Bible School!  Let’s all pray for an amazing week for the kids and pray for each of our many workers! God bless each of you, and thanks for your work to make this VBS the awesome week that it is!
  • Men of Grace!!!  Our annual retreat is just a few weeks away, Aug 7-9. You can go online and register here at our website.  If this is your first time and would like more info, please contact Pastor Bob at the office or see him on Sunday.  The best way to register is online. Calvary Community Church in Phoenix hosts this retreat each year and we’re thankful that we are invited to come and join them.  This link will take you to their website for details and registration.  Do it today. And please, bring your sons (12yo and older). They too will have a blast. What a great environment for young men, surrounded by a few hundred men following God!  I’m going. Can’t wait to see you there.

Blessings, Pastor Mark