Gerhard Forde on the Christian Life…

” The Christian life will be hidden to this world and inexplicable to it.  Sometimes –  perhaps most of the time – the Christian life will appear to follow quite ordinary, unspectacular courses, no doubt too ordinary for the world.  But sometimes it will appear to go quite contrary to what the world would deem wise, prudent, or even ethical…. Why should costly ointment be wasted on Jesus?… Why would it not be better to sell it and give the money to the poor?…Why should a Christian participate in an assasination plot?…The Christian life is tuned to the eschaltological vision, not to the virtues and heroics of this world….The attempt to break the hiddenness is precisely the dangerous thing.”

                                             – Gerhard Forde   (“The Christian Life”, Christian Dogmatics, 2:441)

Claire’s First Communion!

Today is a very blessed day indeed, in the life of one Miss Claire O’Connor.

Claire, the daughter of Mark and Mary Margaret O‘Connor and sister of Garrett O’Connor, will be making her 1st Communion and recieving the body and blood of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The importannce of this occassion cannot be overstated as it is for the first of many, many times that Claire will recieve Christ as He strengthens, comforts, sanctifies, forgives and makes her into the person that He would have her be. All this He does for Claire in the partaking of His Holy Supper.

 My prayer is that Claire will always remember this day and cherish it as a day in which her Lord acted in a very personal way for her, not just for today but for the rest of her life.

So, congratulations to Claire, and the O’Connor and Davies clans as they gather to celebrate the First Communion of Claire and bask in the Glory that is our dear Lord Jesus.

‘The False gospels of Accommodation’

    The following article is by  Pastor Mark Anderson,                                                               Lutheran Church of the Master  Corona del Mar, CA

    The religion of accommodation is everywhere today, and it shows. Seeker-friendly churches allow those who couldn’t care less about the church to define the church, jettisoning everything that resembles historic Christian worship in favor of the latest pop fad. Many mainline pulpits have become nothing more than stumps from which the latest political cause is trumpeted as the folks in the pews are admonished to care, and care deeply about the myriad plights of the world, as if that were the essential business of the Church. The religion of accommodation proclaims the false gospels of slick marketing, false optimism, uplifting self-help techniques, and a fussy do-goodism. It has no need for Christ, His cross, and His costly forgiveness.

    God’s message of judgement and mercy to this pride-soaked world is not meant to make us feel good about ourselves, meet our percieved needs, or prop up our ideas of what we value as crucially important. God’s message – the entire scope of the biblical revelation – condemns the way we have broken His immutable law while at the same time announcing God’s decision to forgive us. And God forgives not because of us, or in spite of us, but because He chooses to forgive us out of His sheer goodness and mercy. “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith and this is not of your own doing. It is the gift of God – not because of works -lest anyone should boast.(Ephesians 2:8-9) The task of announcing God’s Word to this world must reflect an unflinching resolve to proclaim both the judgement of God’s law on each and all of us ( we have nothing to offer God towards our salvation) even as we proclaim the bloody cross and the glorious ressurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ as God’s merciful, compassionate response to our sin and rebellion (we are saved by God’s grace through faith alone for Christ’s sake).

     The following quote from Gerhard Forde says it well;

   ” Christ is the end of the law to everyone who has faith. Christ is the only end. There is no other. That is the reason the treatment of the law can and must be so uncompromising. For where the law is watered down or jettisoned we come under the most diabolical illusion of all – that there is no longer any need for Christ. We must not take that road. What the church has to offer in all matters, is not accommodation, but absolution and a new life. That is the greatest service to the neighbor we can do. True, many today may find this to be of small comfort. But that may be only because they fail to realize how desperate the battle is.”

                                                                                       – Pastor Mark Anderson

  Do you think that getting people in the door should be a consideration with respect to the types of worship practices that a church engages in?

                                                        – Steve M.

‘Tis another quote from Brother Martin…(not me)

“The law is spiritual.” What does that mean? If the law were physical, then it could be satisfied by works, but since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy it unless everything he does springs from the depths of the heart. But no one can give such a heart photosexcept the Spirit of God, who makes the person be like the law, so that he actually conceives a heartfelt longing for the law and henceforward does everything, not through fear or coercion, but from a free heart.”

                                                                                                           – Martin Luther

Immersion or Sprinkling ? Does it Matter?

 Many say you must be immersed to have a valid baptism. Many say sprinkling, or pouring a bit of water over the head is alComing Clean In Dirty Waterl that is needed.

       Are there good biblical arguments to be madeIMG_5623 on both sides?

“Don’t Judge Others!”

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this in response to the critiqing of some other churches on the way they handle the message of the gospel…

“You shouldn’t judge others! Who are you to say if they are Judge Mablean!!!Christians or not?”

Well, I want to make this pefectly clear to those of you that feel this way whenever I might be critical of the another church’s doctrine or church practices. I cannot possibly know (therefore I would not attempt to know) the eternal disposition of that person, or persons, with respect to God. Jesus said, “don’t judge” (another’s salvation), so we don’t judge…”lest we be judged.”   I do not judge them.

I do, however, have a perfect right to criticize persons or churches that are mishandling the gospel and teaching things that are not in scripture with respect to Christianity.   In fact, if I didn’t take the time to try and correct or point out their errors I would be part of the problem.

For example, there are certain churches (and loads of individuals) that believe that becoming a Christian (having faith in Jesus) is a choice. It is a decision that we make. Scripture tells us the opposite is true. So why why would we want to let them get away with teaching people the wrong doctrine without letting them know the truth?

Basic dishonesty is another problem that plagues many churches that claim to be “non-denominational”. They have no point of view? That’s ridiculous! Of course they do. In fact, their point of view is Baptist. Their theology is basically Southern Baptist and almost all of their churches started out as Baptist churches (if you trace back their origins). They became “non-denominational” as part of a marketing strategy to bring more people in. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, that is debatable, but my point is that they should at least be honest about it. They are ‘anti-traditional’ churches with a Baptist theology.

“Non-denominational” churches are a denomination. But they say they are not. Not only is it dishonest but it shows a real ignorance of the meaning of the word, ‘denomination’.

The mishandling of the gospel message itself is another area that deserves harsh criticism. To lead people on a path of performance with respect to their Christian lives just places them back under the law and relegates ‘the gospel’ to a meaningless, religious term. All over the place in this day and age people are being fed the law and are being told it’s the gospel. That is flat out wrong, and dangerous! If you think I am overstating the problem than read the book of Galatians. St. paul uses his strongest language to warn those that are engaged in such teachings and practice.

The mainline churches don’t get a pass here either.

What the mainline churches have done to the Church over the last few decades is enough to make a grown man cry. They have turned strong Christian churches with real traditions of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness of sins into social clubs and do-gooder organizations where the name of Jesus Christ to an outside world is something to be ashamed of and kept quiet. The greater church body that my own congregation is a part of (the ELCA) is engaged in this stuff as well. It makes me sick.

The Roman and Eastern churches are also guilty to a large extent as well with their stubborness to see that it is Christ and His work alone for us that makes us worthy to enter the kingdom of God.

The message is in “earthen vessels”. We will make mistakes. I know I make more than my share of them. I am not a better Christian than anyone I criticize.

Let’s use our criticisims as an opportunity to examine scripture that we might all be better informed about, and grounded to the One who makes His Church and holds it together. 

                    – Steve Martin

Know any Searchers?

Do you know anyone searching for meaning? It’s got to be out there..somewhere in the universe.

Do you know anyone that is trying to figure all thisImagine Peace Tower stuff out?

Do you know anyone that is trying to find the true God?

Have them listen to this message…  Searching? 

 If they don’t have time to hear the whole thing, have them at least listen to the last half. Their search may just end right then and there.

Don’t be like this guy!

My hope and prayer for all of you this 5th Sunday in Easter, is that you get Christ handed over to you, fully and freely. The crucified and risen Christ. The One who forgives real sinners… not those half-righteous, half-sinful type shead-in-the-sandAAinners…but the full blown variety of mega sinner. The kind we know we are.

If you get something other than what you have a right to expect, (a full and lethal dose of the law and a full and complete absolution for Jesus’ sake) than grab your pastor, priest, or preacher, by the collar ( or for you So. Cal. non-denoms…by the puka beads) and ask, “what gives?” “Where was Jesus today?” “Did  Jesus miss His connection in Cleveland, and Moses took His place today?”

Keep asking him, or her, those questions until they do hand Him over. And if they refuse to hand Him over you might think twice about staying there, unless of course you like poison.  Anything else short of the gospel, is another gospel, and that’s poison….it’s just that simple.

Falling in Love

Have you ever fallen in love with someone, but they didn’t love you?

You tried everything possible to get that person to fall in love with you. Yoa walk on the beachu told funny jokes, you gave them gifts, you complimented them, you adorned yourself as much as possible. All to no avail. The love you were seeking from the other person was just not there.

Sometimes third parties try and get two people to fall in love. Those attemps often fail, and sometimes they succeed. But when it does happen, can the matchmaker take the credit for them falling in love, or rather should they take credit only for making it possible that they meet?

I have in mind those that try earnestly to make other people fall in love with the Living God.

There are some that call for us to have a real passion for Jesus. They say we ought realize how awesome and wonderful and gracious Jesus is, then we can fully have the love and passion for Jesus that He truly desires from us. Some folks rattle off long flowing lists of Heavenly adjectives describing God in such a way as to make any person with a hint of common sense realize that they too ought be feeling the same way about God. And if they don’t, well, then they ought try a little harder, pray a little harder, attend more bible studies, be with and emulate those that do. They maybe some of it will rub off on them.

This is a normal attempt by normal people to try and do what is right and good as far as God is concerned. They want to tap into all the benefits of a wonderful love affair with Jesus. They desire all the blessings and all the praise of a supreme God that ought be worshiped and glorified above all other things in their life. They really want to be all that God expects them to be.

The trouble is that we don’t want a love affair with God. Not only do we not want to fall in love with Jesus, we take just about every opprotunity we can to spit directly in His face. (every time we sin…no matter how insignificant you think it might be)

The scriptures make it quite clear where we stand with regard to wanting and loving and seeking God.  We don’t

St. Paul lays it out quite clearly in Romans 1:18 – 3:20   If you think I’ve got the wrong take on it then I’d advise you to go and read it again. And again. And again, if necessary, until that word of law does it’s job on you. That’s you and I he’s speaking about you know. When Paul says, “No one seeks for God”,  well believe it or not , that includes little ol’ you.

So after getting a handle on our true condition and our true attitude concerning Jesus, we can then make an accurate assessment about our ability to whip up some kind of sticky-sweet emotional feeling for our Creator. Although, I must say, we can surely fake it when we don’t want to appear as we really are (to others that are probably faking it as well)

When He came for them 2,000 years ago…they didn’t want Him.  When He comes for us today… we don’t want Him.  That hurts, because I really want to believe that I do want Him.  I want to believe that I was serious when I made that decision for Christ.  I want to believe that somehow I’ve got something special within me that is really desirous of God.  “If others can do it, then so can I !”

The trouble is others can’t do it. Only Christ can get this love affair going and then it’s pretty much a one-sided affair. His giving to us and loving us and forgiving us… and our taking from Him and rejecting Him and ignoring Him. (for the most part)

But Jesus knows this about us. Look at how He treated Peter. Look at how He treated the others. Look at how He treats you and me.

He loves us. In our broken, fallen, selfish, God hating condition…He loves us and forgives usnow !  Not when you’ve cleaned up your act. You don’t even know how to clean up your act.

And He gives us new life and forgives us… daily. He gives us His Spirit, and works repentance in us, and molds us into what He wants us to be.  He gives of Himself in baptism and in His supper. Freely, with no strings attached. No expectation that we will have to add anything at all.

This is the supreme Glory of God as manifest in His Son Jesus and His Spirit. That He loved us so much that “He sent His only begotten Son to die for us, that whoever believes would have eternal life.”

Can we love Jesus at all from our side of the equation? Yes we can. But our love is tainted by sin, by self interest, by all of the distractions of a fallen creature. Our love is spotty and is not as it should be. We can and do love Him, but never on our own. “We love because He first loved us.”

So, if you can’t seem to really muster up all that much passion for Jesus, don’t worry about it so much. For “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And that includes you!

The Law…

“It’s not your worst that you do that should bother you…but rather your best.

For it is not good enough, either.”Beautiful old lady from Darap(Sikkim) village

                      – Pastor Mark Anderson


The theology of Glory takes God’s Law and works it. 

It heats it and bends it, and softens it, then fashions a ring out of it ,  then places it in your nose so it can lead you here, and lead you there.

The theology of the Cross takes God’s Law as it is, a perfectly straight, sharp, iron rod…and drives it through your heart… in order to kill you off.

Which would you prefer? (neither sounds good)