Mark’s gospel has gotten me under a tree recently. Mark wrote primarily to encourage Roman Christians in a time of persecution. Did it work? Yes!

The Epistle to Diognetus was written less than a century after Christ died giving proof of the growth of the church in Rome. Mathetes writes to his friend Diognetus. “For this reason you hate the Christians, because they do not deem these to be gods.” They didn’t accept the gods of Rome so early Christians were called “atheists” by the Greco-Romans. It cost them but in spite of the persecution they grew as the letter below suggests.

“For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all.“ He says much more.

Mark’s gospel records the first parables of Jesus that would have encouraged Roman Christians and us also. The first was a parable of four soil types where the first three didn’t bear fruit (false converts) because of poor soil conditions. The fourth type was good soil which produced much fruit up to one hundred fold. That is a picture of what genuine conversion looks like. I gave this first message on the The Parable of Your Soil last Sunday. They bear much fruit. What about you?

Then Jesus gives three other parables ending with one that pictures a tiny mustard seed growing into a huge tree providing cover for many birds (Mark 4:30-32). This pictures the kingdom of God and all who have repented and truly trusted Christ and are resting in this wonderful kingdom. It pictures believers of all ages here.

My little Nancy resting under the shade of the branches of this huge tree we found some years ago in Hawaii. Wow!

My little Nancy resting under the shade of the branches of this huge tree we found some years ago in Hawaii. Wow!

Some dismiss Christianity as a thing of the past that has seen it’s day and is in decline. It is a passing thing like all religions. But, after two millennia it is still growing and in the last century has tripled. The Pew Research Center says it is the largest faith on earth with roughly 31.5 % of the world’s 7.7 billion people (as of November 2018) claiming Christianity. Islam is second claiming 23.2%. Figures may not be fully accurate but, it does say something about the impact of gospel of Christ continuing. No other person in human history has affected the world more that Christ. That is why I am encouraged and resting under this massive growing kingdom. How about you? This Sunday we look at the parables where Jesus explains these to His disciples. See you at 10:30 at church or on line.

Pastor Mark

Also, this Saturday our men will gather from 8 to 9:30 for breakfast and our Bible study on 1 Timothy 2 in the Fireside Room.


I have been thinking of reasons why we should be reading the Bible through again this year. Nancy and I have done it individually for years but last year we did it together and enjoyed it.  Here are a few good reasons for why you should read through the Bible this year.


1. It’s the best seller of all time.  That’s why you don’t find it on best seller lists. It so far surpasses all other books to the point that they simply don’t list it since it would always be on top.  If there is ever a book on your “bucket list” you should read, it ought to be the best seller of history, don’t you think?

2. It helps us know divine history. The book is loaded with historical accounts of people just like us, with plenty of warts and bumps, that were chosen and used by God to change history. If we don’t know history we are doomed to repeat it.

3. It helps us understand who God really is. The Bible often reveals God is different from our concepts of Him that are shaped by contemporary culture. The trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are key. Our understanding should grow all through life as we read this amazing inspired book written by forty different authors over nearly two thousand years and over three continents.

4. It convicts us of sin and points us to the way of true salvation in Christ alone. People can be “religious” or “spiritual” but not right with God (Matthew 7:21-23). Reading the Word shows us God’s forgiveness is only through faith alone in Christ alone by the grace (the gift of God) alone (cf. Romans 3:23; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16; 14:6; 20:31). 

5. It motivates us to be God’s servants.  We were created to serve God for his glory alone.  This usually happens as we serve others. Jesus is the best example of this. Mark 10:45 says, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

“But I don’t understand the Bible, its’ boring and I can’t read that well either.” I suggest you get a copy of Unger’s Bible Handbook.  It is a small reference book that a chaplain gave me in the military. It gives summaries of each bible book, why it is there, and how it fits in. It was the first study tool I ever had and has been a lifelong blessing.  

But, what bible reading plan should you follow?


Here are three simple plans to choose from for reading that I like.

Join our own Jerry Cudney’s email Bible Reading Plan.  Register for his daily email with the portions for the day to read through the Old and New Testaments simultaneously.  He also has devotional thoughts and a hymn to read.  Do not call him on January 1 between 2 & 5 PM— He has a prior commitment called “2019 Rose Bowl…GO DAWGS!” To register to read email him at

Nancy and I have used the free online Daily Audio Bible with Brian Hardin.  Each day he reads the same verses that Jerry lists.  His voice is easy to understand and he has some light music with it too.  He also includes some explanations along the way about things most people ask about. This is a good plan if you are driving or can’t see well.  He also provides text from the version he reads from.  

If you want to read or listen through the Bible on your own plan or just read straight through, I suggest downloading John MacArthur’s Study Bible for your tablet or phone. It is state of the art. You can also click on difficult verses to read some of John’s 25,000 notes and cross references. It is one of the most inexpensive tools I have found. It works well on my android phone too. Start at the beginning and read the Bible…or if you prefer just click on the speaker icon to listen to it read to you.  

Okay.  No excuses in our day and age for being biblically illiterate.  Let’s get reading today.  Happy New Bible Reading Year.

Pastor Mark

writing from LA today


The subject of God’s glory has been on my mind for over a year. Christmas Eve I spoke about the angels that appeared to the shepherds and said “Glory to God in the highest.” Why? First, it was because this was a seminal moment in divine history. The long awaited Messiah was born and the Shepherds would be first to see Him who was prophesied in the Old Testament (cf. Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Mic. 5:2; etc.). These angels knew about that since they dwelt in heaven in the presence of God. They also appear earlier in the birth narrative confirming this.

The word “glory” in this context means more than visual light. Here it referred to all that God is; it is the sum of all God’s attributes. That is mind bending to say the least.

The “heavens declare the glory of God” as does all creation with man being the crown of it because we are made in God’s image (Psa. 19:1). But now in the incarnation God is “with us” in person.

Secondly, the angels said this because Christ came to die for our sin. Romans 1:2-23 tells us man had exchanged the glory of God for corrupt things. But Christ came to pay the price for our disobedience (sin) so that all who repent and trust Christ may be saved from eternity in hell. The angels were pretty excited about the fact this process was started.

But is goes farther than just salvation. They said “glory to God in the highest” to acknowledge God was in the “highest” heaven and to be worshiped because He is as glorious as He possibly could be. Men or angels can’t add to His glory but we can reflect it when we do His will. How are you doing?

The Protestant Reformation emphasized getting back to God’s glory in our worship. The final point of Reformation was that “glory to God alone.” God’s glory is the “highest” thing. It is the meaning of everything. It is even above salvation. All that God made and all that happens is to God’s glory.

Our culture is moving away from glorifying God and toward self-glory. Advertisements say, “it’s all about you.” This is an unhealthy self-focus and a narcissistic mentality. As Christians we need to refocus on God getting the glory and not us.

In the New Year work put your selfish sin nature aside, stop trying to posture yourself to get glor and instead focus on giving God the glory.

You can watch the Christmas Eve service music and message on the glory of God.

Here is the chalk drawing Adria Hanson did picturing the angels appearing to the shepherds. I appreciate her hard work in illustrating the scene in Luke 2:14. Glory to God in the highest.

angels to shepherds.jpg

Hear the song that recalls this glorious event.

Happy New Year

Pastor Mark

Be aware of the following.

  • Pete John’s memorial is scheduled for Sat. Dec. 29th at 3 PM at DBC.

  • Sun. 12/30 there is no Sunday School due to holiday break. But, at 9:30 we will have a coffee fellowship time before worship service. Come and enjoy.

  • Sun. 12/30 at 10:30 I will be speaking on Mark 3:20-35 and the question of the unpardonable sin as we are back in the book of Mark, the newspaper version of the Gospel.