A different take on Baptism (other than the symbolic view and the sacramentarian view)

Full Lecture Hall by Thomas Conner

Class is in session.


You’re probably going to hear some things you’ve never heard before about the Christian faith in this mp3 audio.



It’s not important that you agree with them. Only that you hear them.




Click here > Baptism, “free will”, and other stuff




Many of you have already listened to this before. So have I…a few times. But it doesn’t hurt to hear it again.


Thanks, Pastor Mark.

Thanks to flickr and Thomas Connor, for the photo.



Cultivating your ‘spirituality’

4 Minutes After Daylight [on her way]

Is the Christian life an adventure in ‘spirituality’?  Should it be?  Or should we leave the things of the Spirit up to God and concentrate on being human?  

Give a listen to this sermon by Pastor Mark.

If you can’t spend the whole 20 minutes, the first 30 seconds is worth it for a good laugh.



click here> Becoming more spiritual 




 This is an oldie but goodie that I thought you might enjoy listening to again.

Not that your enjoyment is the goal of a sermon.

But Someone is after you to kill you (that Old Adam or Eve ), so that he can raise you again.

I think that is something that He enjoys!



On Death to Self

Pastor Tullian Tchvidjian of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL has a post up http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2011/08/13/on-death-to-self/?comments#comments  on the importance and ramifications of dying to yourself.


Pastor Tchvidjian has discovered Gerhard Forde and has been reading quite a lot of him as of late.

While there are things we can do to get out of ourself that will free us for the neighbor, and we ought try and do those things, I believe that God isn’t relying upon when it comes to putting ourselves to death.

I left a comment about Romans and Baptism over there (as I have done before), but the discussion usually ends up back in the arena of what we should be doing, saying or feeling.

Am I being too Lutheran persnickity about the external Word which acts for us and upon us, or is a little talk about ways we can die to the self alright?






Discussion of James Nestingen’s article

Pastor Mark’s class this week deals with an article titled ‘Scriptural Authority and the Lutheran Confessions’  by James Nestingen. It’s found in a book put out by the Word Alone folks titled ‘By What Authority?’ 


It’s a very interesting class.   And it may ruffle a few feathers.  I don’t think anyone gets away unscathed in this one.


We never shy away of feather ruffling if it is to promote Christ and His gospel for the forgiveness of sins.


Listen in and feel free to comment pro or con or indifferent.


click here > Scriptural Authority and the Lutheran Confessions




Thanks to Jim Nestingen, Word Alone, and Pastor Mark.

Thanks to facebook for the photo of Jim.




If you could just be a little more faithful, a little more serious, God will take away those rough spots in life


You can do it. Become more earnest. Understand the Scriptures better. Try harder.

God wants this for you so He will unleash His blessings for you.


Here’s Pastor Mark’s sermon for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost :


____click here > The Real Truth of the Matter


Thanks, Pastor Mark.

Not “the centered life” – but “hidden in Christ”


You’ve heard it said:

1. Faith gives power for works.

2. Faith reveals what God wants you to do.

To the contrary:

“Firstly, it is usual to regard the relation between faith and works – and for that we can now also say, between what God does and what man does – in the first instance as a relationship between power and performance. Faith is supposed to give the power for works. This way of speaking requires to be very critically examined. The basic relation of faith and works isnot the communication of power for works, but the communication of freedom for them – that is, freedom to do the works in their limitedness as works and therefore also in the limitedness of the powers that are at our disposal for them. Just as faith too does not, though it is easy to misunderstand it so, primarily receive the revelation of what is to be done; but faith gives the freedom to perceive the right, because faith assigns works to their due place” 1


 1. “… faith … is not the communication of power for works, but the communication of freedom for them….”


Faith is not a psychological push to do good works. In other words, faith is freedom from having to do good works, now that Christ has done it all, so that I don’t have to deal with sin, death, and the devil. I am free to be myself, living for others.


2. “… faith …does not …receive the revelation of what is to be done….because faith assigns works to their due place.”


 Where is Christ working in the world and in my life? We are told that if we live “a centered life,” we will be able to see how the work we “do everyday contributes to God’s work in the world.”2

And yet real life doesn’t seem to work out this way. The life I live is ambiguous and broken. Where is God in our lives and in the larger world? We cannot dial up a list of what God is doing.

How do Lutherans sort this out? Faith is hidden. Apart from Word and sacraments, Christ is hidden. Contrary to the popular Bible Camp song – you cannot tell Christians by their love – and every attempt to do so leads to pride, hypocrisy, or despair.

To think that we can identify where God is working in our lives and in the larger world is a temptation. Luther frequently cited 2 Cor 11:14: “Even the devil disguises himself as an angel of light.” And Paul, when pressed by his opponents, declared:

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Cor 4:3-4).

Like being humble, we all know that if you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it. All of which is to say that we live by faith, not by sight, by forgiveness, not “by seeing how God is sending me to do God’s work” (See footnote 2, #49). We trust him to know how to build his kingdom. Let God be God.3


1Gerhard Ebeling, “The Necessity of the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms,” Word & Faith (London: SCM, 1963), p. 404. 2See “Centered Life: An Initiative of Luther Seminary” and the following survey statements:

#44: I can easily see how the work I do everyday contributes to God’s work in the world.

•#47: I see how the tasks of my every day work connect with God’s work.

 •#49: Each day, I am able to see how God is sending me out to do God’s work.

3 What about bearing fruit? That will have to be dealt with in another post, in which we would take up 1 Cor 4:3-4 more extensively.


Thanks to CrossAlone-Lutheran-District .




Understanding Luther

“Anyone who is but a little familiar with Luther knows that his different thoughts are not strung together like pearls in a necklace, united only by the bond of a common authority or perhaps by a chain of logical argument, but that they all lie close as the petals of a rose about a common centre, they shine out like the rays of the sun from one glowing source: the forgiveness of sins. We should be in no danger of misleading the would-be student of Luther, if we expressly gave him the rule: Never imagine you have rightly grasped a Lutheran idea until you have succeeded in reducing it to a simple corollary of the forgiveness of sins.”

 from Our Calling by Swedish theologian Einar Billing



photo of Einar Billing from this site http://hem.bredband.net/wall/gen/

 h/t  to Pastor Mark.