Pastor’s November Blog

 

Pastor Mark’s November Newsletter Blog

“Some Things Change, Some Things Stay the Same!”
 
My cat, my cable company, and Blockchain Technology, what do these three have in common? They are indicators that change is in the air.
 
Tigger, my aging cat, snuck out of the house last night. When I go outside to retrieve wood for the fire, she is increasingly more intent on sneaking outside. The consequence was that she spent all night out on the deck, in the dark. I heard a faint meow in the morning and realized she was outside. In the past months, I have had to change from dry food to canned food because of her digestive problems. And joy of all joys, I’m getting more hair balls coughed up on my bed spread through the night. I’m sure as Tiggy continues to age, as do I, more change will unfold.
 
My cable company told me that I needed to change my recording equipment. A month ago, and four appointments later, I’m still waiting for that change to occur. Once again, I will have to learn a new way of working with new equipment; it’s not a big deal, but just one more change that requires attention.
 
 
Blockchain Technology. Have you heard of it? Now, potentially this IS a big deal. According to Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of “Blockchain Revolution”, the blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value. Now that’s a mouthful!  “In simplest of terms”, they say, “It is a time-stamped series of immutable record of data that is managed by clusters of computers not owned by any single entity.” The three game changers about this technology is that it’s 1. Decentralized. 2. Transparent. And 3. Immutable. And amazingly enough, it’s FREE! Transactions as we know it, in all sorts of fields, will be altered and changed. For the good? Yes, transparency and the inability to deceive, cheat and steal is great. But the fall out will potentially include many business closures and many employees losing their careers (look out Charles Schwab, Edward Jones and Merrill Lynch).
 
It’s interesting that there is a new potential technology involving a free transactional system providing the world with greater security, safety, transparency, and human interconnectedness and accountability.
 
Do you realize that there is already a system in place, in God’s technological platform that provides each one of us – security, safety, transparency, human interconnectedness and also accountability? This platform is through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.
 
And the great news is that it is offered to us FREE of charge. Yet, it is not free to God! He established this platform at great cost, commitment, intentionality, and passion. We are the recipients of this amazing technological transaction – which involved the divine becoming human. A transaction that we will never truly understand but are asked to accept, trust, believe and utilize. And this transactional system is available to us every day, at every moment, for every person.
 
The world’s transactional systems will continue to change and alter and evolve as technology develops. But rest assured that God’s transactional system will never change!

 

Life and salvation through Jesus Christ IS immutable.  

 
The abundant life God promises today, and the eternal life He points us to in the future involves ONE transaction – and Jesus provided that transaction for each one of us on the cross at Calvary 2000 years ago. Everything else of value in this life is to be seen and evaluated through this ONE transaction.
 

All other transactions perhaps can be summed up in the words of St. Paul in Galatians 5:6, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”  

  Therefore, hold on to the immutable truth, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”   Hebrews 13:5   Some things change, and some things will FOREVER stay the same. Praise God!
 
In Christ,
 
Pastor Mark
 
 
 
 
 


Pastor Mark’s August Newsletter Blog

Pastor Mark’s August Newsletter Blog

“We Choose to Go to the Moon”

On July 20, 2019, the United States celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the moon.  Neal Armstrong spoke those memorable words, “That is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”   The world watched in awe and amazement as the 2 American Astronauts staked the United States flag in the soil on the moon’s surface. That moment was the conclusion of an impossible dream.   Nearly eight years earlier, on September 12, 1961, at Rice University in Houston, Texas, President John F. Kennedy articulated an audacious dream during his speech to the large crowd. He said,  “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon, in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard…because that is one challenge we are willing to accept…”   What a ridiculous, reckless, irresponsible statement the president declared when the nation had hardly a space program to speak of. History records JFK having second thoughts the day after speaking those crazy words. Yet he had cast a vision of beyond. The dreams of a nation had been sparked to consider the stars. And in a few short years, reckless became a reality, even after he was gone.   2000 years ago, Jesus spoke some ridiculous words to some rather foolish followers.   He said…..

“Go and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  Matthew 28:19-20

What a reckless statement to a group of disciples confused, arguably divided and certainly uncertain about their future. Yet the vision had been cast. The dreams of the disciples had been sparked to consider the world, and bring the message of salvation to all who would listen.   In the United States, we might think the message of Christ is diminishing. Fewer people are attending church and our culture has itching ears toward new and improved spirituality. But let’s not be misinformed. The message of Jesus Christ continues to spread across the globe. And in many areas, it’s spreading like an uncontrollable wildfire. According to the Joshua Project, currently there are roughly 2.3 BILLION Christians across the world.    New believers are accepting Christ in the thousands DAILY. Roughly 34,000 in South America, 30,000 in China, 25,000 in Africa and 16,000 Muslims are turning to Jesus DAILY.  Yes, it is sobering to hear that more and more people, especially young adults have left the church in the U.S. and find Jesus’ message antiquated. To be sure, affluence and the myriad of distractions have played a part in this. But also, the church has unfortunately also played its part, often offering a version of religion (focusing on many man made rules and efforts), rather than experiencing an authentic life giving relationship with our living God.   I hope you realize that….

at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, we have much to be hopeful and excited about.

The Holy Spirit is leading us and building a deeper, stronger, faith filled congregation. Sheri, our Treasurer, announced at the Council meeting that pledges are now above $380,000 for our remodel project. What an amazing expression of commitment and resolve to see God continue to build mission and ministry in this community and in our church. Alex Abdallah, our new Student/Family Ministry Director, has jumped in with both feet and is bringing a new level of excitement to our youth program. More people are visiting our church and lots of activities and ministries are moving forward.   Let us continue to carry Christ’s banner. Let us continue to….  “Go and make disciples  –  of all nations…”

We do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

We do this because it is a challenge we are willing to accept.

We do this because we are caught up in Christ’s audacious dream.

Let our eyes be drawn heavenward and let our hearts be sparked by the Holy Spirit to chase after it with all the love, faith and perseverance we can muster. And in a few short years, we will all travel to the place that has always been called Home – to be with our Heavenly Father. Your Fellow Foolish Traveler, Pastor Mark

 
 
 


Pastor’s July Blog

 
Pastor Mark’s July Newsletter Blog
 
“On Our Way Rejoicing”
 
As a boy, I can remember my dad often choosing hymn number 260, “On Our Way Rejoicing”, as our sending song in worship.  This hymn was an upbeat, celebratory song that always put an exclamation point on the service and energized us to move forward.
 
The refrain declares, “On our way rejoicing; As we forward move, Hearken to our praises, O blest God of love!”  
 
On June 9, 2019, Our Saviour’s Lutheran congregation met to discuss and vote upon the proposed plan to remodel our fellowship hall and fireside room. We gathered together for one worship service and the place was packed. You could feel the vibe and excitement in the room (which, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how the whole morning would go. We had done our homework, been on our knees in prayer – yet still we were not sure how the congregation, as a whole felt about the project.)
 
After a great time of worship, the table was set, and we feasted with a great breakfast. Then our President, Ken Christoferson, opened our meeting and gave an overall scope of the project. Marv Hansen, our project manager, then focused on all the details and particulars of the remodel. I followed trying to focus upon the “why” of this effort – to further strengthen our mission and ministry in our church and into our community. Annette Bowden then discussed the funds necessary and a vision for how this could be accomplished.  
 
Then a motion was made and a vote was taken to consider this remodel project.
 
Overwhelmingly the congregation approved the effort with a vote of 118-2. And we went on our way, rejoicing!
 
That day, commitment cards were passed out and on the following day cards were mailed out for those who could not attend. Annette explained that to begin the project, we would need to raise $200,000 in pledges to be given by September 30, 2019. Those pledges were to be made on the “green” commitment cards. The “yellow” commitment card is for a 3-year pledge, that would cover the remainder of the construction costs of $170,000.
 
It is now 7 days after our congregational meeting and to date Sheri, our treasurer, who is the only one who will count these cards, has communicated that we have received pledges on the green cards of $148,844 – that’s 74.4% of our initial fund raising goal of $200,000! 
 
Are you rejoicing? I CAN’T HEAR YOU! How exciting and what a wonderful expression of enthusiasm from our congregation to see this kind of generous giving so quickly. Yes, we still have a way to go – but it is very exciting as we forward move. May God hearken to our praises, O blest God of love!
 
On the day of our vote, I told two stories involving Pastor Tony Campolo, pointing to the power and purpose of why we are here as a church and why we do what we do. Whether remodel or not, we are here to bring the message of reconciliation from Jesus Christ to a lost and broken world. And we have been given the opportunity and privilege to participate in His mission.
 
I close with one final Tony Campolo story:  Tony was giving a major address at a women’s conference. At a point in the program the women were being challenged with a several thousand dollar goal for their mission project, the chairperson for the day turned to Dr. Campolo and asked him if he would pray for God’s blessing on the women as they considered what they might do to achieve their goal.
 
To her astonishment, he went to the podium and graciously declined. He said, “You already have the necessary resources to complete this project right here in this room. The necessary gifts are in your hands. As soon as we take the offering and underwrite this project, then we will thank God for freeing us to be generous, responsible and accountable stewards.”
 
When the offering was taken, the mission goal was overreached. Then Dr. Campolo led them in a joyous prayer and song of thanksgiving. I wonder if the song was, “On Our Way Rejoicing”?
 
Thank you for your partnership and participation. More specifically, thank you for your partnership and participation in the mission of the Gospel.
 
In all that we do, may Jesus Christ be honored, glorified and praised.
 
Join us Sunday, June 30th at 9:45 a.m. in the fellowship hall  – as we eat breakfast together, hear from Sheri the results of our progress and then sing together,  “On our way rejoicing; as we forward move, Hearken to our praises, O blest God of love!”
 
Yours in Christ,
 
Pastor Mark
 
 


Pastor Mark’s June Newsletter Blog

Pastor Mark’s June Newsletter Blog “Free Stuff” This past weekend, I had a clear goal in mind. Clean out the clutter in the garage so that I could park my truck inside. This was one major goal. After remodeling downstairs, cleaning out the closets, storing the kids extra belongings and accumulating all of my needless treasures, I didn’t know how long this cleaning effort would take. But systematically, bit by bit, I began to see some daylight. I didn’t want to waste time with a garage sale, so I simply put my unwanted junk, I mean treasures, out by the street with a sign that said, “Free”. I even put a broken lawnmower out there as well as retro, antique, old and just plain old cheap trinkets.   It was amazing to watch the items disappear one by one. Usually it happened when I left the house. Each time I would return home, another item would be gone. I’m not sure if they would have disappeared if I would have had a price tag on them. But with their being “free”, people were willing to take them home with them.

It’s interesting to read the final words in the Bible. . . . .

Revelation 22:17 states,

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”

And let them who hear say, “Come!”

Whoever is thirsty, let them come, and whoever wishes,

let them take the free gift of the water of life.”

So why is it that so many people are willing to take my free junk out along the road, but when it comes to the free gift of salvation, so many hesitate to take it home with them?   Is it because they think that there is a price associated with it? Certainly, people need to know that there was a steep price associated with this free gift of eternal life – but that price was paid by Jesus Christ, suffering on the cross, bearing the sins of the world. And yes, there is a price to be paid on our part, that we would surrender our selfish ways and live in step with God. But doesn’t that supposed price become a privilege as we experience a spirit filled life providing us with greater purpose, meaning, love and the reality of eternity?    Or does the basic truth smack us in the face that most people don’t really care and really are not that interested in spiritual things? Barna Research tells us that the opposite is true. That your average Joe, driving down our streets are indeed interested in spiritual things. So what gives?   Perhaps people just do not know about this free gift of God described in the Bible and delivered through Jesus Christ. So, if someone stopped in front of your house and was picking up an old, used water hose with a mashed end that says “free”, and happened to ask you, out of curiosity, about the free gift of Jesus Christ – would you have something to offer him/her?   A few weeks ago, one of our members was with a co-worker, and they had a conversation about Jesus. He texted me after the conversation that night and was so excited as he shared, “He didn’t know anything about Christianity, and I knew what to say.”   This is why we are continuing Connexion into June – so that we can continue to learn simple ways to respond to honest questions when people ask. Perhaps it will not be a stranger by the road, but your son or daughter at the kitchen table or your grandchild at bedtime. The gift that Jesus has freely given us, let us freely give. And may it be our privilege to pass on the truth that indeed, the price has already been paid!   Connexion, Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

And if interested, I still have some free stuff out by the road! Feel free to stop on by!

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you

to give the reason for the hope that you have.”     1 Peter 3:15

 In Christ, Pastor Mark

 
 


Pastor Mark’s March Newsletter Blog

 
 

Pastor Mark’s March Newsletter Blog The Lenten Journey – “Our Path in the Wilderness” A few weeks ago, Travis Kauffman was running in the wilderness. He was running alone in the foothills of the Horsetooth Mountain Park in northern Colorado. He reported that he heard something behind him on the trail. As he turned to investigate, an 80 lb. mountain lion lunged at him. Travis said that he was bitten on the face and wrist, but he was able to fight back. He was able to fight off the mountain lion and eventually suffocate and kill him. Exactly how Travis did so was not immediately clear, but the cat is dead, and the man is recovering in a local hospital. 

1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring (mountain?) lion looking for someone to devour.

Resist him (fight him off), standing firm in the faith…”

News traveled around the globe, retelling Travis’ courageous effort to fight off an attacking lion. St. Peter warns us of another lion that prowls around looking to destroy our hopes and crush our dreams. Jesus faced that lion, the devil, in the wilderness for 40 days before he began his public ministry. He had to stand up to this enemy before he marched to the cross and achieve his ultimate victory over death. As we begin the Lenten Season, March 6 (Ash Wednesday), this 40-day march to Easter is a recognition of the real fight Jesus faced for the faith.

Jesus journeyed through the wilderness,

enduring Satan’s temptations,
and returned to Galilee IN THE POWER of the SPIRIT!
 
Jesus models a journey of faith we all must take into the wilderness as his followers. At some point, we will find ourselves, as Jesus did, in a wilderness, in unfamiliar territory, to face a formidable enemy. The wilderness is not meant to destroy us but rather that we might learn to reject Satan’s lies, resist his temptations, remain in the Truth, and return home – walking in greater power and life in the Holy Spirit. 
 
Daniel, in the Old Testament, faced his own wilderness journey. Staying faithful to God, on his knees in prayer, it led to betrayal, arrest and a sentencing by King Darius. Daniel would be thrown into the den of lions. Daniel faced a formidable enemy in both animal and accusation, yet he rejected the lies, resisted the temptations, remained in the truth and returned home – walking in greater power than he had ever known.
 
If we are to walk through our own wilderness successfully and stand firm in the faith, Jesus and Daniel model for us a standard that will always carry us through. In order for us to reject the lies, resist temptation and remain in the Truth – Jesus relied upon the Word of God.
 
“Jesus said, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone.’‘
It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’

‘It says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’   (Luke 4:4,8,12)

Jesus stood his ground and wrestled the animal to the ground and took him out in the strength of God’s living Word. And Daniel, in his deepest time of torment, trusted in the power of his God.

“Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him,because he had trusted in his God.”  (Daniel 6:23)
 

God heard Daniel’s prayers. God sent an angel to shut the lion’s mouths and preserve his life. On what trail are you running? We are about to run into the Lenten Season – a time and a path that perhaps will lead us into temptation. Be self-controlled and on alert. We have One who will deliver us from evil. The God of our salvation will watch over us as the Good Shepherd watches over his sheep. Take up the tools, seize the weapons that have been given to us – the Word of God: his living, written and spoken Word, the prayer of praise and petition, and child-like trust that will never forsake us. Whatever trail, whether Horsetooth Mountain or into the valley of the shadow of death – fear no evil, the Lion of Judah, runs by our side. He is our protector, He is our provider, He is our salvation! Can you hear Him roar? Thanks be to God!! Pastor Mark