Category: Mark’s Blog


According to Thom Rainer, “At least two-thirds of churches are declining, maybe more. We estimate that about 100 to 150 churches are closing every week. The sighs of despair are justified.” Please note that this statement is made in reference to “churches” in general in the United States and not specifically concerning the churches of Christ. However, it is pretty clear that our brotherhood closely reflects this same trend.

Rainer goes on to write:

Even among those churches that are hanging on, a number of their leaders feel a sense of futility. Though smaller churches vastly outnumber larger churchesmore people are attending the larger churches every week. The migration from smaller to larger is clear and evident.

Church leaders and church members sense the shadow of the larger churches over them. They see their young families move to the churches that have ministries and programs for their children and teenagers. They see the newer, even cooler, buildings of the larger churches.

They see it. They sense it. They know it. Is there hope? Do these smaller churches have any path forward? Can the smaller and mid-sized church survive in the world seemingly dominated by larger churches and megachurches?

The answer to the question is an absolute “yes.” I make that declaration not by sentiment nor false hopes, but by clear evidence of God’s work. Though the number of scrappy churches is still relatively small, they are growing in number. I am convinced scrappy churches are a growing trend of the reality we will soon see.

The Columbine congregation needs to be what Rainer refers to as a “scrappy church.” We refuse to give up. Let’s be feisty, tenacious, determined, persistent.

We believe that the Columbine congregation still has a purpose in the Southwest part of the Denver metropolitan area. We are not blind to the difficulties around us, but we remain certain God is still working in this congregation.

Church revitalization is slow. It typically takes congregations five to seven years to successfully turn-around. More about church revitalization next week.

The City Of God Questions for Reflection for 03/24/19



  1. List Scriptures that describe the people of God (both OT and NT) as the wife (married to) either God or Jesus.


  1. John is taken to a “great, high mountain” to see the descent of the New Jerusalem (21:10). Identify some of the mountains that have played an important role in the history of God’s people. Provide the name of the mountain, the event (or events), and the biblical text.


  1. What traits of the people of God from many periods are attributed to the bride in Revelation 21?


  1. What is meant by “having the glory of God” (21:11)?


  1. What else is compared to a jasper stone (21:11) in Revelation?


  1. How does the New Jerusalem represent a place, the people of God, and God’s presence?


  1. List the contrast between the two women/cities runs throughout Revelation 17:1–19:5 and 21:9–22:5.


  1. What is alluring about Babylon (Rev. 17:1-19:5)?


  1. How does the vision of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-22:5) provide an alternative vision of life?


  1. Are the numbers describing the size of the city (21:16-17) literal or symbolic? If it is symbolic, what are some possible symbolic meanings?


  1. Does the measurement of the wall (21:17) indicate the height or the thickness of the wall?


  1. If the gemstones used to build the city (Rev. 21:19-20) are taken symbolically, what do they represent?

Questions For Reflection for Sunday, March 17, 2019

  1. What is the contemporary depiction of the final state? Describe it? Does this depiction inspire your hope? Is there anything about this depiction that bothers you?

2. What does it mean that “heaven and earth departed” (Rev. 21:1)?


  1. What does it mean that the “sea was no more” (Rev. 21:1)?


  1. Why is “a new heaven and a new earth” in Revelation 21:1 followed by the description of a Garden-like city in the shape of a temple (21:2, 10-21)?


  1. What other verse in Revelation refers to “new Jerusalem the city”?


  1. What does new Jerusalem symbolize?


  1. What is the point of similarity between Jerusalem and a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2)?


  1. What is the most precious aspect of the new heaven and new earth (New Jerusalem) to you?


  1. Where else in Scripture is the action of “wiping away tears” (Rev. 21:4) also described?


  1. What is signified by the verb “to be thirsty” (Rev.21:6)? (support your answer)


  1. Where else in Scripture does God come to us?


  1. Each verse in this section recalls passages from the writings of the prophets, what are some of those passages?


  1. What is the most significant “take away” for you from the text of Revelation 21:1-8 and the sermon (“All Things New”) dealing with it?


The sixth chapter of Revelation opens with John seeing four seals being opening which releases the so-called “four horsemen of the apocalypse” (Rev. 6:1-8). Then John sees the fifth seal opened,

Revelation 6:9-11 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also

The “souls” under the altar are in the heavenly temple. They had sacrificed their blood for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Their blood had been poured out at the sacrificial altar. They live in the presence of God, dressed in their white robes. They have moved from earth, with all its hardships and heartaches, to a reality where they are engulfed in the worship, adoration, praise, and joy of God.

The martyred saints recognize both the holiness and justice of God. They appeal to both aspects as they lament the injustice upon the earth. As John Mark Hicks noted:

The saints before the throne share the lament of those who still live upon the earth. . . . The martyred saints share our lament and continue it in the presence of God. They, too, yearn for the fullness of God’s kingdom to manifest itself in a new heaven and new earth. (“Waiting With Us,”

“Wait” is the divine response. Waiting is what the martyrs must do. Waiting is what the saints on earth must all do, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).

What are we waiting for? The answer from Revelation is that there is more “witnessing” to do (Rev. 6:11; 12:11). God desires more people to come under His rule before Judgment comes.

Nothing To Live Or Die For

I just read an interesting article by Grayson Quay entitled, “The Soft Nihilism of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine.’” Quay’s thesis is that Lennon’s, “’Imagine’ has all but replaced the Nicene Creed as the official statement of faith of the Western world. The great virtue is tolerance, defined not in the classically liberal sense of non-aggression, but as an imperative to confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that all beliefs and lifestyles are equally valid.”

The denial of absolute truth is the only absolute truth. This is “Nihilism,” an extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth. Dorothy L. Sayers notes that “is the sin that believes in nothing… hates nothing… lives for nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for.”

“Nothing to live or die for” is totally counter to the call of the gospel. Paul noted that for him “live is Christ and death is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Jesus’ call was for those who follow Him to take up their cross (which means death) and follow Him (Mt. 10:38; 16:24; Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9:23).

The prospect of suffering for one’s faith was not just speculation to the original recipients of Revelation (nor the original recipients of 1 Peter). The clarion call of Revelation is for perseverance in faith (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 12:11; 21:7), even if it means suffering and death (Rev. 2:10; 12:11). Faithfulness to God cost Jesus His life (Rev. 1:5; 5:6, 9, 12) and He calls those who follow Him to the same path of nonviolent faithfulness (Rev. 14:4).

From a worldly point of view, the deaths of the martyrs, seem to show that faith in God and the Lamb leads to suffering and loss (it is ludicrous to die out of loyalty to a crucified Messiah). From that perspective, the most prudent course of action would be to abandon one’s allegiance to Jesus in order to obtain a more secure place in society. The vision of the martyrs at the heavenly altar (Rev. 6:9-11) and God’s judgments (Revelation chapters 6-9, eleven, and sixteen) counter this view by insisting that the faithful who have suffered on earth find rest and reward in heaven. Meanwhile, those on the earth will be disturbed by divine judgment (Rev. 6:12–17).

“Nothing to live or die for” may be the philosophy for those outside of Christ. Having everything to live and die for is true concerning faithfulness to the Lord Jesus.

I Am The Alpha And Omega


The divine title “the Alpha and the Omega” occur as self-designations by God and by Christ in Revelation:

God: I am the Alpha and the Omega – 1:8

Christ: I am the first and the last – 1:17

God: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end – 21:6

Christ: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end – 22:13

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The “Alpha and Omega” designation is the equivalent in meaning to “the first and the last” and “the beginning and the end.”

God precedes all things and He will bring all things to fulfillment. He is the origin and goal of all history. He has the first word, in creation, and the last word, in new creation. As the Alpha, God is the Creator, the beginning of all things (4:11); as the Omega, He brings all things to completion in the new creation (21:1). His first word is spoken when the book begins (1:8), and His last word signals the fulfillment of His purposes: “All is done.”

“I am” recalls the name of God, like the expression “the one who is” (Exod. 3:14). This recalls texts from the Old Testament that stress the singular lordship of Israel’s God:

Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

Deuteronomy 32:39 See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand

Isaiah 41:4 Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He

Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me

Isaiah 45:22 Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other

Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me

Isaiah 48:12 Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last

The Lord God Almighty Reigns – Rev. 19:1-6



  1. What do you think about the statement that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?


  1. What is necessary for power to not corrupt someone?


  1. Why is it important to understand that God is the “Almighty”? How does this fact translate into your life?


  1. What things claim to be “Almighty” in our time and place?


  1. How has and can the idea of God’s rule and judgment been misused and abused?

Take Time To Pray

Set aside 15 minutes to pray today, and you might find these things happen:

  1. You’ll be more focused on God. Even if only for a few minutes, looking toward the throne of God can move your heart.
  2. You’ll be more convicted over your sin. That happens when you spend time with God, but that’s a good thing. Conviction leads to repentance, which leads to forgiveness and cleansing.
  3. You will be more grateful. Most of us do indeed need to pray more – and our hearts are thankful when God helps us to make and keep that commitment.
  4. You will be a godlier person. I’m assuming, of course, that your time with God leads to genuine change, but you’ll humbly hold your head higher in your home if it does.
  5. You will release some of your burdens. Fifteen minutes may not be long, but it’s time with God. He’s in charge of how much He will change and encourage us in those minutes.
  6. You will express your love for somebody. Few things are as loving as interceding for others and taking them to God’s throne – even if you do it in the quiet of your prayer closet for just a few minutes. Pick up the church directory and pray for one family in the directory each day.
  7. You will want to pray even more. Nobody ever prayed more than 15 minutes without praying the first 15 minutes. Spend a few minutes with God, and you’ll begin wanting more.

Find 15 minutes today . . . and pray.

Edited by Mark Johnson (original article by Chuck Lawless)

Mark’s Remarks

We have had good participation in the ministry meetings so far and have the opportunity to share in two more ministries this morning (beginning approximately 10 minutes following the dismissal of the morning assembly). For those interested in benevolence, you will be meeting in the front of the auditorium. For those interested in Lads to Leaders, we will meet downstairs. If you are interested in both, please go to one of the meetings and then contact the facilitator of the other meeting (Mike Ewing for benevolence and Mark Johnson for L2L).

The L2L meeting will include the following agenda items. First, for those who have participated in L2L events this year (Year-Round Bible Reading, Centurion of Scripture, and Song Leading), please let me know: 1) who completed any of the events and 2) for those who completed events, let me know if you desire to be recognized in the L2L convention program. Second, we will discuss the events that we desire to participate in for 2019. Third, information for the 2019 Convention will be made available. Finally, I will be inquiring about who desires to participate in the 2019 Convention (as a judge, observer, etc.).

The Wisdom and the Road to Character Seminar with Dr. Dave Bland from the Harding School of Theology (Memphis, TN) is January 19-20, 2019. Most of our Seminar postcards have disappeared! There are a few left (so pick some up for yourself and to distribute to others). We also now have fliers available in the foyer. I hope you have already made plans to participate. We have contacted numerous other congregations about the seminar and hope that they will attend the Seminar.

I am super excited about moving the Sunday PM meeting time from 6:00 PM to 1:00 PM, beginning next Sunday (January 6, 2019). I think it will be beneficial for all. We hope this will increase participation in the PM assembly. Some of us are already talking about bringing simple meals (lasagna, baked potatoes, crock pots, etc.) to eat at the building between meetings. The time change for the PM meeting is on a trial basis, for January through March.

Wisdom and the Road to Character Seminar

In just over a month, this congregation is hosting the “Wisdom and Character Formation” Seminar with Dr. Dave Bland who is a professor at the Harding School of Theology (HST) in Memphis, TN. Dave was born and raised west of Fort Collins and is excited to have the opportunity to present this material in Colorado!

You will be wise to make sure that you participate in as much of this seminar as possible.

Applying the wisdom literature to life has captivated Dr. Bland for several decades. He teaches a course on “Wisdom and Character Formation” at HST and has written three books dealing with this material: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & Song of Songs (College Press NIV Commentary), College Press, 2002; Proverbs and the Formation of Character, Cascade Books, 2015; and Creation, Character, and Wisdom: Rethinking the Roots of Environmental Ethics, Wipf & Stock, 2016.

Make sure your schedule includes this Seminar on January 19 and 20, 2019, you will be blessed.

The material below is from David Fleer & Dave Bland, Preaching Character: Reclaiming Wisdom’s Paradigmatic Imagination for Transformation (Abilene, TX: Leafwood Publishers, 2010).

Life is an exciting journey, an adventure with unknown challenges stretching before us.  But life often throws unexpected twists and turns along the way. While it presents wonderful opportunities and joys, hidden perils abound. It’s an exciting adventure that involves perilous risks and difficult decisions. In different ways both the novice and the experienced must remain constantly vigilant. Our world does not well prepare individuals for this journey, regardless of the level of experience.

It is at this point that wisdom speaks a profound word into our experience. Wisdom capably negotiates the complexities of life. The wise person is one who develops expertise in living responsibly. Wisdom seeks to discover God’s order in life and then proceeds to successfully fit into that order, always acknowledging human limitations. Divine order demands moral behavior and wisdom’s ultimate goal is the formation of moral character. This quality of character is the thicker, richer meaning of wisdom.

Our culture and churches desperately need wisdom. It is not a spur of the moment decision to try to be a wise person. It is a process of training.