You have a “free-will”…right?



This is a very easy class to listen to. Just like you were discussing it with a friend:


Listen to >Your “free-will”


Thanks, Pastor Mark.


Thanks to, for the photo.






Christian Growth



Here’s another gem from Gerhard Forde:

“Christian growth is forgetting about yourself.”     
  (…and your Christian growth)

                        – Gerhard Forde

* The parenthetical statement is my addition.



Personally, I don’t think there is anything more tedious and boring than talking to, or hanging out with someone who is engaged in working on their “Christian growth”.

I’d rather gouge out my eyes with a claw hammer.




photo by joeyplanting








How does God tie us to the Cross?


Listen > 


He uses real stuff.

(don’t let the imperfect sound quality keep you from hearing this vital message)




Thanks, Pastor Mark.




How do you know that Jesus is Lord?


Lay preacher, Brian Seaman, delivers the sermon for Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014:

Listen to > How do you know?

Thank you, Brian Seaman.



 Thanks to, for the photo.






On the need to be “re-Baptized”



Also titled, “Faith“:

Or  … > faith (downloadable mp3)

This one (below) on becoming more “religious and spiritual” is a good one, also:


Thank you, Pastor Mark.

God’s Grace Trumps God’s Law


Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s true.

We are inveterate ‘doers’. The law is written upon our hearts. We want to justify ourselves if it kills us.

Ignorance of, or inability to distinguish God’s law from God’s gospel is a plague in the church.

“Well, it says right here in 2nd Macedonians 11 that we really ought to be doing good works to please God.”

So, then… why aren’t you?

Why are we so consumed with what the Bible has to say about good works and then utterly ignore them unless it is to tell our neighbor to do them?

Have you noticed that?  The do’s and don’ts of the law are never really taken seriously by the one who speaks of them. But the accusing finger is wagged in every direction but back at the self.

There is law language all over that Book. And there is gospel language all over that Book.

Should we, as Christians, ignore the law and ignore the needs of our neighbors?

Of course not! We ought jump in with both feet! We ought do all we can!

But not to aqcuire anything at all for ourselves. We already have all that is needful…in Christ. We have put on Christ in our baptisms! (Gal.3:27)

How can doing good works make you any better of a Christian than that?  It can’t!

But if you mix up doing good works for the neighbor and doing good works to gain some elevated status in God’s eyes, then you may be a modern day Pharisee, and you may be in the process of cutting yourself off from God’s grace.

“We’ll then, how am I to know that I’m really a Christian?”

Remember 4/4 … Romans 4:4&5 , that is. “Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but his due. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.”

Grace trumps Law… and it trumps it every time.

By the way, you are now free (because of Christ) to go out and do all the good works you want, without having to fear messing up in any way.

Your friends, family, neighbors, homeless people, old folks in nursing homes, young people in cancer wards…they could all benefit from your desire to do good works.

So…have at it, friend!

– Steve Martin


Are you a godly worker? Or are you an ungodly truster?

Sometimes it is a hard thing to admit. But when he was hanging there on that cross and asked the Father to “forgive them, for they know not what they do”, he was speaking about you and me, also. Not just those there in front of him.



Thanks to, for the photo. 

“Spiritual…but not religious”


On airplanes, I dread the conversation with the person who finds out I am a minister and wants to use the flight time to explain to me that he is “spiritual but not religious.” Such a person will always share this as if it is some kind of daring insight, unique to him, bold in its rebellion against the religious status quo.

Next thing you know, he’s telling me that he finds God in the sunsets. These people always find God in the sunsets. And in walks on the beach. Sometimes I think these people never leave the beach or the mountains, what with all the communing with God they do on hilltops, hiking trails and . . . did I mention the beach at sunset yet?

Like people who go to church don’t see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. How lucky we are to have these geniuses inform us that God is in nature. As if we don’t hear that in the psalms, the creation stories and throughout our deep tradition.

Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn’t interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself.

Thank you for sharing, spiritual but not religious sunset person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating. Can I switch seats now and sit next to someone who has been shaped by a mighty cloud of witnesses instead? Can I spend my time talking to someone brave enough to encounter God in a real human community? Because when this flight gets choppy, that’s who I want by my side, holding my hand, saying a prayer and simply putting up with me, just like we try to do in church.


                       by Pastor Lillian Daniel, First Congregational Church. Glen Ellyn, IL.


Thank you, Pastor Daniel.

And thanks to Digital , for the photo.

Hat tip to Howard Nowlan and Pastor Mark.





Wars, and rumors of wars got you down?



   …then read the latest posting here:





You, Turmoil, and Jesus


We have been in it.  We will be in it, again.  We might even be in it right now.

 Listen to > You, Turmoil, and Jesus

Pastor Mark’s sermon for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost


Thank you, Pastor Mark.


 Photo by














“But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”


– Romans 5:8

Years ago I sat with a couple who were preparing for marriage. The young woman ran through a lengthy list of all the reasons she could think of as to why she loved her fiance’. He was generous, hard-working, handsome, thoughtful, funny, and so forth. When it was time for the young man to speak he said,” I don’t need a reason to love her. I just love her.” He was not far from the Kingdom!

When we examine the Bible it does not provide us with God’s reasons for loving. Nowhere is there an assessment of humanity from God’s vantage point where He lists our numerous virtues as reason for loving us. If anything, the Bible is a collection of evidence that suggests there is not much lovable about us. Our generous self-assessments are not reflected in the mirror of heaven. This is hard for us to take, to be sure. There must be something in me that God values, something I can do or be, some potential, at least, that God sees in me.

If that is so, then God’s love is a conditional, qualified love which looks for something lovable, desirable in the object of love. But that is not the way of God’s love.
The key verse that says it all is this one, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” There is no expression of worth or value here that motivated God to spend Himself for us. Jesus gave Himself for the unlovely, unlovable and ungodly – for us.

Human love examines the attractive attributes of the other to look for something WORTH loving. The agape’ love of God seeks no such validation. God loves. Period. Such love is a stunning reversal of our way. Doubtless God is deeply concerned with us and all our works and all our ways, but they do not serve as the basis for His love. In Christ, God loves us for no other reason than He chooses to do so. That is His glory, and our hope.

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


From Pastor Mark Anderson’s blog, 2013