Romans 1:16

 

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“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the power of God unto salvation…”

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March 14, 2012    (from Pastor Mark’s blog http://www.lightofthemaster.com/apps/blog )

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 I don’t remember his first name anymore but his last name was Carlson or Larson or Hansen or Johnson or something like that.  OK, I don’t remember his last name either!  Anyway, this wiry old Norwegian came up to me after the Reformation Sunday service at First Lutheran Church, Fergus Falls, Minnesota, October 1977.  During the offering the organist and I had performed a rousing rendition of ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’, she on the pipe organ (somewhat nervously as I recall) and yours truly adding a withering obligato on the electric guitar ( a bright red 1966 Gibson 335) complete with distortion pedal and major rock n’ roll attitude.  Mr. Han-Carl-John-Lars-son was neither inspired or edified.  “I want to congratulate you, Pastor Anderson, he said dryly.  “You have managed to overshadow the Word of God this morning and drag Luther’s hymn into the gutter at the same time.”  Ouch!  At the time of course, I dismissed him out of hand.  Now I can only marvel at the miles of passivity that old Scandinavian had to cross in order to confront one of his pastors.  I also wish I could sit down with him – which I should have done then – and listen to him.  He was onto me.  He came from a Lutheranism where laity understood they had a responsibility to the Word of God just as much as the pastor.  He was exercising his stewardship of that Word but I was too full of myself to hear him.  I was too busy being ‘relevant’ instead of being his pastor.

 

What I finally did hear while sipping coffee with those old Norwegians – and a few misplaced Swedes – was that faith in Jesus Christ and His promises was the marrow in their lives.  And they had not come to this faith because some clergy person stuck his\her finger in the wind and then blathered on from the pulpit about the indelible wonderfulness of now.  The message that gripped them was the Gospel; the old, old story of Jesus and His love often expressed in their favorite hymns; Beautiful Savior, The Old Rugged Cross, Abide with Me, and yes, In the Garden.  During the years I was their pastor I had to bury some of these folks.  Often, in those last days before the end sitting by their bedsides I would sing these old hymns accompanied by a guitar and read passages from the Bible.  And that is when I learned something that had taken me too long to learn; if you can’t sing it or say it at someone’s deathbed it probably isn’t worth singing or saying  at all.

 

 

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

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Photo from flickr and  côte d’ivoire
 
 
 
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How the Law Trumps the Gospel

What if this were the last day of your life?

 

Jesus Christ by LoveCats2006

What would you do?

 

 Jesus gives us the new commandment.

 

  There is law here (on steroids). There is gospel here.

    It kills, and it raises (by the grace of God).

 

Fasten your seatbelts.

          click here >    The-last-day-of-your-life

I know, this is a Maundy Thursday sermon. But I like it a lot and I listen to it throughout the year. And we’re not liturgical legalists here!

I’ll post it again on M. Thursday.

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Thanks to flickr and LoveCats2006 for the photo

 

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Giving recipes to the hungry?

Beat until light by Patrick Snook

 

Well, isn’t that what is happening in so many churches?

You’ve got someone who is starving to death (spiritually) and you lay out for them your favorite recipe on just how they can get what they need?

Then you add another ingredient to the recipe each week, so there’s no way this much needed, life giving meal will ever come out of the oven and be finished, and enjoyed. It becomes impossible to ever ‘arrive’. 

I’m here to say that that is a terrible way to “help” people.

 

Hand Him over!

 Give them the True Bread which comes down from Heaven, which is the meal that is completely finished for you and ready to “take and eat”.

‘How to’, ‘instructional Christianity’,  just throws gasoline on the fire. It keeps alive the Old Adam and Old Eve. It creates phonies and Pharisees. It drives people to despair. God is not interested in cleaning up the Old Adam and Old Eve in us. He wants to kill them off! He will create in their places, the New Man and New Woman, and He does this through the announcement of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus’ sake. And He does this in His Holy Supper which He lovingly prepares for you with His Body and Blood that was nailed to a bloody cross in your place. And He does this when we speak of Him and the great things He has done for us, one to another. And when we comfort each other in His Name.

This is what people need. They don’t need a ‘program’ that puts them on the fast track, slowtrack, or any other track, to greater obedience or greater spirituality.

If the non-denoms, or the Baptists, or the Roman Catholics, or the Calvinists, or the Mormons even, would hand over this bread that comes down from Heaven for broken sinners, and not put any conditions on it, then I would say “AMEN! Thanks be to God! We are in agreement!” 

To the extent that they do not hand Him over without strings attached, I will always be critical… never judgemental. Their final destination is not my business. The Lord is after the heart and knows each heart individually. He is certainly capable of making someone His own apart from any particular denomination, or church, or institution.

But we want the light of the gospel and the freedom that Christ gives to burn ever more brightly…don’t we?

So we continually place Christ at the center of it all towards that end so that some will hear and be freed from the religious project and the propping up of the self.

Don’t hand them picked-over recipes, that feature ‘what they ought be doing’. 

Hand over the One true and everlasting food that is Jesus Christ Himself and His forgiveness of sins for sinners in need of new life. And keep handing Him over, again and again, and again…in the face of all those who object that that is just not enough.

He, and He alone…is enough.    He is enough.

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You got a problem wit dat?

 

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“For You”

This is key.                     

 

The gospel is not ‘because of you’, or ‘if you’, or ‘why don’t you?’, or ‘will you?’

The gospel is… FOR YOU!

It is a free gift of God’s grace and mercy. It is His desire to give to you that which you need… authentic life, the forgiveness of your sins, and salvation.

Not because of anything that you ‘do’ or ‘don’t do’.

It is absolutely free to all real sinners who are in need of the Lord Jesus.

It’s a promise from God, and it is FOR YOU!

You are loved! You are forgiven! There is a place for you in God’s house!

 

That’s the gospel.

 

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Do you have a ‘yeah but’? 

If so… you should get rid of it.

 

Do you look good on wood?

PIC00001.JPG by PeterVogelPhoto

Each and every person on this planet faces their own cross.

We will either go to it in this life, or the next.

When I see a cross, that is the first thing I am reminded of…that I will not escape it. The world will have it’s way with me unto the grave.

But that grave will not hold me. Death’s power, it’s sting, is no longer permanent thanks to that very same cross.

Romans 6:3 -11

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?   4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.   5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.   7 For he who has died is freed from sin.   8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.   9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.   10 The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.   11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

In my baptism, God has already put me to death…along with Christ Jesus.

But He has raised me from the dead, also…along with Christ Jesus.

This is His promise.

Maybe our promises aren’t always fulfilled, but God never breaks His promises.

That is something we can count on.

And if that is not enough for us, He reinforces that promise and works in us His good and gracious will, giving us the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation each time we ingest His body and blood, and each time we hear His Word preached or taught. And that is apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think.

No, it’s not magic. 

It is the power of God through the gospel for all who have faith.  The very same faith that He gave us when we were dead in our sins and trespasses.

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Does this post give you trouble?  Do you feel uneasy with it?

Or do you feel relief?  Freedom?  The joy of a new life…yet given to you once again?

 

 

 

Off to be killed…

…and then raised again.Be More Human / Mehr Mensch Sein by an untrained eye

Not going to receive any special instructions. Not going to find out any secrets for spiritual living.

Not going to get prodded with the stick of how I should be feeding the poor and helping the sick, and visiting the lonely…(all of which I should be doing).

I am going to receive the Word of God. I am going to (by the grace of God) receive from Him His law, in order to kill me off yet once again to my little ‘No  thank you God I can do it myself ‘ project. And then recieve from Him His promise of life, the forgiveness of my sins, my salvation…in the gospel, and in the body and blood of our Dear Lord who has poured out Himself for me (us)…which is pure gospel (no law).

This is a picture of baptism, by the way.

Death and Resurrection.  Repentance and Forgiveness.  Dying and Rising.

 

Isn’t that enough?

 

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