Return to your Baptism…each day.

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“As your days, so shall your strength be.”  Dueternomy 33:25

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A man once laughingly observed to a friend, “God has extremely high regard for my capacity to endure hardship; for hardship is pretty much all I know!”

As we stand on the threshold of a new and untried day, we do not know what this day will bring. Will it bring good? Will it bring unwelcome misfortune and hardship? Perhaps it will bring both. It’s probably best to not dwell too much on these questions as we make preparation to enter the day. Instead, God invites us to dwell on His promises.

He has promised to give strength for every need. He has promised that no burden is too great for us to bear because we have Him. He has promised to those who belong to Him that He will work all things for our good.

With these promises going before us we may enter the day with gratitude, anticipating the opportunities it brings; the chance to provide daily bread, be with friends, share the love of family, enjoy our interests and serve others where we may.

When hardships come it may be more difficult to see our Lord at work in them. Faith may falter. When this happens we are invited to return to our baptism and kneel at the foot of the Cross, under the steadfast love of the Redeemer who gave Himself for us. There we are reminded that no trial, suffering, discouragement or hardship fall outside the vast perimeter of God’s grace.

Therefore, we may step across the threshold of each day in the sure and certain knowledge that we are held in the baptismal promises of God; and that the story that will be written, even this day, will be the story of God’s faithfulness to us – in all things.

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

 

                          – Pastor Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Purpose of Jesus’ Parables

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

Why?

 Listen to > The Parables of Jesus

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

Thanks to WikiArt.org, for the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Thank you, Pastor Mark.

 

 

 

 

“Love”

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

 Listen to > “Love”

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

Thanks to wehacklife.com, for the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do NOT miss this discussion of “free-will”

Thank you, Pastor Mark!

 Listen to > So-called, “free-will”

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.

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

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

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

 

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Thanks to nicolearnoldphoto.com, for the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The State of the Promise”

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:

 Listen > The State of the Promise – Chapter 10

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.