The Purpose of Jesus’ Parables

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He made them up. He made them, ‘over the top’.

Why?

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 Listen to > The Parables of Jesus

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

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Thanks to WikiArt.org, for the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

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Romans 5:2

 

“Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.”

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I had given her a book to read which layed out a Lutheran understanding of the Christian faith. She came from a Christian church which placed much emphasis on works, on gaining spiritual ground in this life which would translate into rewards in the next. After finishing the book she came back to see me. Her comment? “You Lutherans have it too easy. Everything depends on grace.”

This young woman is not alone in her assessment. Strange at may seem to those of us who have been nurtured in a church where grace is central, many Christians are suspicious of reliance on grace. One Christian has gone so far as to call the Lutheran Church a “grace cult”.

When Paul wrote the Christians in Rome, whom he had never met, he anticipated their objections to his message of grace when he wrote, “What shall we say? That we sin all the more so grace will abound all the more”? Paul must have run into this question a thousand times.

Paul knew full well that grace seems easy and bland, a cop out, only to those who do not fully appreciate the gravity of sin, who have not seriously tried to meet the demands of God’s law. God does not grade on the curve. Have you tried, really tried to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength and you neighbor as yourself? How about striving for righteousnes, purity of heart?

Paul did and so did Martin Luther. And what happened? They pursued a ‘godly life’ with such fervor that it drove them to the wall. They came to see the towering righteousness of God as an impossible mountain to climb.

Now, it is “… through Him that we obtain access to this grace in which we stand.” Grace has not come to us at some bargain basement price. It is not a cheap remedy for a bland illness. Grace has come through Him, through the crucified and risen Jesus. Blood was shed. A death occurred. A funeral took place. Wonderul, beautiful Jesus was cast away like so much unwanted trash. That is the cost of grace.

Those who object to the sufficiency of grace have yet to appreciate the gravity of their sin and the greatness of Christ. But when these two meet, then we can truly rejoice and proclaim from the rooftops, “Everything depends on grace!”

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“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep you hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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From Pastor Mark’s daily devotional blog, 2012

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

 

 

 

 

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“Love”

love

 

I posted this class a while back, but I was listening to it again yesterday and thought it worthy of reposting:

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 Listen to > “Love”

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

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Thanks to wehacklife.com, for the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do NOT miss this discussion of “free-will”

Thank you, Pastor Mark!

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 Listen to > So-called, “free-will”

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It’s connected to Chapter 10 in Paulson’s book.

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Take a good, long, sober look at the world…and at yourself…

 

Would you rather squint your eyes at the lights at night and see a make believe wonderland? Or open them wide and see reality as it is?

Reality is what we need to see, as hard as it may be at times.

But there is a greater reality that we can’t see. One that we can hear…and taste…and receive in faith and hope.

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Pastor Mark’s sermon for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost:

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 Listen to > The Bad…and Good of Reality in this World

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

 

Thanks to nicolearnoldphoto.com, for the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

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“The State of the Promise”

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Pastor Mark teaches in Steven Paulson’s book, “Lutheran Theology”, … Chapter 10, ‘The State of the Promise ‘.

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Another heavy dose of the radical gospel and  the Theology of the Cross:

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 Listen > The State of the Promise – Chapter 10

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sermon on the Mount

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The sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel contains a portion of what has been called “the Sermon on the Mount”. In that chapter there are three verses in which Jesus speaks of praying, fasting and almsgiving in secret. So far, so good. The King James translation, however, adds a word to the end of these verses. That word is ‘openly’. The formula in which the word appears can be represented by verse 4; “…and thy Father which seest in secret shall reward thee openly.”

Modern translations do not contain the word ‘openly’. In fact the earliest manuscripts, from the second, third and fourth centuries upon which modern translations are based, do not contain the word openly. It was added at a later date. Why?

I believe it has something to do with the perpetual need to resolve the tension between hiddenness and openness in the Christian life. Consider this. Our society was profoundly shaped by what has been termed the ‘ Protestant ethic’. The Protestant ethic states simply, to use Matthew’s words, if I pray, give alms and fast (as sincere acts of Christian piety) I will be rewarded with prosperity. Therefore you can tell who the serious Christians are by how prosperous their lives are. This is simple but it makes the point. God openly rewards the sincerely pious. This permeates the churches like ink in the water. It’s everywhere.

But a careful reading of the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7 in Matthew) reveals that openness and hiddenness are in constant tension. And this tension is reflective of the very nature of the Incarnation. Jesus was visible. He walked and talked, ate lunch, did miracles and so forth. Some saw Him and confessed, “He is the Son of God!” Others took a look and dismissed Him as another cheap street magician. The divine presence was not obvious.

So in the sacraments we have very visible elements; water, bread and wine. You can feel them, touch them and taste them. But hidden within them are the Holy Spirit, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. And if you talk about the sacraments as invisible you’ve missed it. At the same time if you talk about the sacraments as obviously proving the presence of God you’ve also missed it.

What all this means for me is that the Christian has no reason to expect that our living of the Christian life is going to be any more obvious than was Jesus’ own life. For the world is not going to look at the Church and exclaim, ‘My you are so absolutely gorgeous, I must sign up. Count me in.’ Among the many implications of this awareness is one that stands apart. If the Church is going to bear witness to the faith, then it must speak the name of Jesus Christ and tell the story of what He has done for a sinful world. Attempts to resolve the tension within the Christian life only result in taking the focus off Jesus and placing it on ourselves.  This we cannot and must not do. _

 

“May the peace of god that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”     ____________________________________________________________________________________ -

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From Pastor Mark Anderson’s daily devotional blog, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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