So much for Jesus cultivating your bit of goodness…

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He takes what you already have and improves upon it.

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Right?

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click here > If you would gain your life…  (11 min. mp3 audio)

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Thanks, Pastor Mark.

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And thanks to flickr and Albion Europe ApS, for the photo.

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We are NOT a “faith based community”

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This (announcement) shook them up. It shakes us up, too;

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click > We are NOT a faith based community

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Or…

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

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And thanks to flickr and CatholicInfo, for the photo. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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John 1 …

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from Pastor Mark Anderson’s Daily Devotional blog site

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…”who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

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The holy trinity of American evangelicalism were Moody, Finney and Sunday. You can Google them and learn more if you wish. These three were the original purveyors of mass revivalism, mass evangelism and “Big Box” tents, the forerunners of “Big Box” churches. The actual peak of this form of evangelism was in the decade prior to World war I. Well over a thousand itinerant evangelists plowed the country, while hundreds of others, in established communities, developed that unique American version of showmanship religion which made the ministries in neighborhood and country churches seem dull in comparison. Sheep stealing was rampant as these free-will purveyors railed against established churches and their meaningless sacraments. During the height of it’s lather, from about 1910 to 1913, church membership in America actually declined slightly. Go figure.

 

For many people, confrontational revivalism (the gospel at gunpoint, as one called it) is assumed to be the default way in which the church does evangelism. Give people a choice; heaven or hell, which will it be? Everyone must make a decision. First, accept Jesus as savior, then you must make Him Lord of your life. Salvation and this life are in some strange way unrelated, separated. Salvation becomes adherence to an ideology. The Christian life becomes a morality project, a striving after perfection.

 

What we have going on here, it seems to me, is the religious equivalent of a sales pitch for a consumer decision about a product, rather than the proclamation of the decision God has made about sinners. And it is no accident that what has characterized these ministries from the 19th century up to the present is a reliance on the end justifies the means. All that matters is closing the deal. No method or gimmick is too outrageous, provided we can bring people to the point of decision. Then, once the decision has been made, the job is to keep the whip of spiritual growth on their backs so that Jesus will really become their Lord.

 

But since when does the manipulation of a sales pitch play a part in the open and free proclamation of God’s grace? The only possible way to find any of this in the New testament is to ‘cherry pick’ verses and bend them out of all shape and context.

 

The New Testament witness does not separate the saving work of Christ, His will to save from His will to be Lord. His Lordship and salvation are inseparable because He is the one who has done the deciding and He is the one whose life now defines the life of the Christian and Christian community. The only will that is free to do any choosing where God is concerned is God’s will. For us to claim such freedom is not the key to salvation, it is blasphemy. For it is claiming something for ourselves that belongs to God alone. 

 

Evangelism, therefore, is being brought by God’s grace – through Word and sacrament – to be with those whose great need is God’s concern. To trust God, to believe the Gospel, is not a consequence of my decision, it is the form God’s decision takes for me.

 

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

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

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And thanks to flickr and O, for the photo.

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  A  sermon by Pastor Mark to go along with this post for those so inclined:  Strength-and-Effort-to-choose-Jesus

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Some choices to make because of your Baptism

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The Lord gives us permission, and freedom.

We can either be gracious…or grumpy.

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click > Choices to make because of your Baptism

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Or…

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Thank you, Pastor Mark Anderson, for your sermon for the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, 2013.

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And thanks to flickr and Philip Dehm, for the photo.

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If someone could make a CD from this audio file and send it to me, I’d be very grateful.

I haven’t figured that one out yet on my computer.

Please e-mail me for my address            sma9231961@aol.com

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Thanks.

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From the Book of Job

from Pastor Mark Anderson’s blog

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“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”

 Job 13:15

Hope is hard for narcissists like us. Oh, I don’t mean the kind of hope that expects God will safely tuck us away in His pocket while others suffer misfortune. The less said about that phony hope the better. I mean the hope that entrusts all to God when everything is falling apart and prospects are dim – on a good day.

 

Any sober reading of the Bible will see that the polished God on the pedestal who delivers the goods here and now, is largely a fiction. The God we meet in the bible is a deliverer all right, but His methods often, quite often, bring those who trust Him right to the brink of catastrophe and sometimes beyond. This accounts for some of the problems we have when we encounter this God in the Bible. This God brings down and raises up. He kills and makes alive.This God forgives the unrighteous and blasts the religious with withering words of judgment. This God sent His own Son and lead him all the way to suffering and death. There is a grittiness to this God, a refusal to be in any kind of denial about the mess He confronts in this world.

 

The book of Job is among the greatest literary accomplishments in human history. For it looks at God and the suffering of the faithful with the clarity and harshness of a Klieg light. Job cuts right to the chase. “I’ll hope in Him even if He kills me.” These are the words of a faith so raw and so real, one can only marvel and remember Jesus words when he said, “When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?” 

 

The true sign of Christian hope is not in the winning (as we variously define it) but in the losing, in the tears, sack cloth and ashes when we are caught in the crucible of God’s judgment and mercy. Faith in God is just that, faith inGod. It is to entrust one’s life to God no matter what, without expectations. Job’s last and only hope after all, as his world crumbled around him, was the God who permitted it all to happen.

 

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

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Baptism actually works

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You may not have heard these things about Baptism before:

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click > How Baptism actually works

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Or…

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

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Thanks to flickr and Jerry, for the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Galatians cruise

This is a re-run, but some of our newer folks may not have taken this short bible cruise with Pastor Mark, yet.

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Watch out for the 2 sea monsters towards the end.

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