August 11

Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church Member Devotion:

 

Dear Members and Friends;

As I mentioned in my last devotion, I would be taking a break for a few weeks. During this four- week hiatus, a suggestion was made that perhaps some of our members might be interested in writing a devotion. I reached out to a number of our people, and they answered affirmatively. So, for the next few weeks, you will receive a devotion from a fellow member of our church, who is willing to go public with their faith. It’s pretty exciting.

A year ago, I remember Annette Bowden sharing a devotion, written by her father, years ago, from a booklet that was put together at Our Saviour’s as an Advent Devotional. The year was 1989. As I thumbed through its pages, I recognized many names of people who contributed writings that are still active in our church today. One of those contributors was our beloved, Elsie Pritchard. As we begin these next few weeks  – listen to a reflection from Elsie. While her writing was intended to point us to Christmas, it forever points us to Christ!
 
Each Tuesday and Thursday, there will be a new devotion that you can access from the link on our home page –
 

P.S. – Don’t you think it’s time that we put together another OSLC Member Advent Devotional for 2020? Something to think and pray about.

Yours in Christ, Pastor Mark



Pastor Mark’s Devotions, April 10

“Death”

“He breathed his last.” Luke 23:46

Today is Good Friday. This marks the day Jesus breathed his last and died on the cross. It’s also hard to believe, today, that over 100,000 people worldwide have breathed their last due to Covid19.

This virus has attacked the young and the old. This virus has attacked the high risk and low risk; men, women, children even infants. It has attacked the rich and the poor. It has gone after Prime Minister, Prince, and pauper. Yesterday’s news reported a New York Police Officer, a bus driver and a man getting his hair cut died within days of contracting the virus. Not all have been infected but all are affected by this coronavirus pandemic. When all this dies down, further measures will surely need to be taken to guard against further outbreaks.

Jesus’ last breath on the cross was not just a loss but it was a sacrifice. Jesus willingly sacrificed his life in order that the infection of sin would be crushed. All of humanity has been infected with this virus of sin since the Garden of Eden. Since that moment, God the Father set in motion a rescue operation that would destroy the virus and its effects, namely sin and death.

At God’s appointed time, Jesus was sent into the world with the vaccine. No, rather he WAS the vaccine and he would give new life to all who by faith would receive him. Today, we remember his sacrifice. Today, we give thanks for his gift of life.

Over the past number of weeks, we have watched one improbable recovery while another faces impending death. We have witnessed sights never seen before in our country. Countless trailer trucks have lined up to receive those who have died. Mass graves have been dug to receive their caskets. Families cannot even line up to receive their loved ones. This is a sobering time; a serious time, let it be a sincere time.

Hebrews 10:22-23 states, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

The final night before the cross, Jesus made a promise to his disciples. He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me, because in my Father’s house are many rooms and I go to prepare a place for you. And if I prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-3)

Jesus had to accomplish the purpose for which he was sent. He would sacrifice his life for a world infected with sin. In so doing, he promised a place. He promised a home in heaven to live with him forever.

On this Good Friday, with death all around us, NOW is the time to draw near to God and hold unswervingly to this promise of Christ with a sincere heart.

What is a sincere heart? The Greek word means real, genuine or true. A sincere heart is an open heart. A sincere heart does not mean that one does not have moments of doubt nor fear. Rather, it is a humble heart willing to approach God and to remain open both to Him and his Word.

For so many, this promise of Christ seems to either be too good to be true or a nasty lie. How can this promise be true when 100,000 bodies lay dead on the streets and more tragedy awaits around every corner? But it is precisely because there are 100,000 on the streets that this promise is true. Jesus came into the world and was put on the cross at the hands of those in the world, that he would transport all of us beyond this world of tragedy and death.

The truth is, we might avoid death by Covid19 – but none of us will avoid breathing our last in this world. We will all face this fate. Even Lazarus, whom Jesus miraculously raised back to life after four days. He was given extra days but still would ultimately take a final breath.

Even though we cannot escape the reality of death., we can PREPARE for it.  

Jesus prepared himself for death. God the Father helped to prepared Jesus for his death. Jesus had a sincere heart. He drew near his Father. His Father drew near to him. There are many moments when the Father and the Son are drawn together; Jesus drew near to his Father at the temple as a young boy. The Father drew near to Jesus at his baptism and at the mount of transfiguration. The Scriptures tells us that Jesus drew near to his Father, in prayer, in isolated locations alone. He gets up early before dawn to be with him. He goes upon on a high mountain to be with him. He enters a garden, leaves his friends and drops to his knees to be with him. 

John chapter 17, describes another prayer in which Jesus sincerely reaches out to his Father.

Jesus prays, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” The Father and Son are of one heart and mind. They have the same purpose, desire and intention. The Son is sincere in following the will of his Father.  Jesus continues to pray, “That they (future believers) may be ONE AS WE ARE ONE: I in them and you in me.” (John 17:22)

How do we prepare for our future death date? The secret is to be ONE with JESUS as Jesus is ONE with the Father. The truth is – to be prepared for death – is the same as preparing for life – the key is to be ONE WITH GOD! When we come to know this truth – life and death, it’s all the same. Life is death! (death to self). And death is life! (Life in Him). When we are one with God then we are prepared for either life or death – for it is all God!

To be ONE with God is to KNOW God! Jesus points to this truth in the same prayer. In John 17:3. Jesus states, “Now this is eternal life: that they may KNOW YOU, the ONE true God AND Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

The Greek word to “know” points to a close, vital, personal relationship. How do we come to prepare for life and death – It emerges as we continue to grow in deep and vital relationship with him. There is room to stumble and fall in this relationship with God. He will never leave us nor forsake us. But let us continue to turn to Him in all things.

Today, as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross – we see the sincere heart of our Savior extending his hands to each one of us.

May we, with sincere hearts, draw near to Him in full assurance of faith!  

One with You in Christ,

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 January Newsletter Blog

 
 
 

“3 Days of Prayer” – January 1, 2, 3, 2019 LCMC 7th Annual Three Days of Prayer “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best…”     Philippians 1:9-10

Mark Batterson writes in his book, “Draw the Circle” (page 224) “One day as I was on my knees praying about praying, I felt the Holy Spirit lovingly and playfully asking, “Did you think this was going to be easy?”  
 
Learning a spiritual language is like learning Spanish, French or German. We don’t become fluent in a few minutes. Acquiring a prayer language is like learning a foreign language. Expanding our vocabulary of praise is as difficult as conjugating verbs in another language. I love the story about the grandfather who walked by his granddaughter’s bedroom one night and overheard her praying the alphabet, literally. “Dear God, a,b,c,d,e,f,g,” She prayed all the way to “z” and said, “Amen”. The grandfather said, “Sweetie, why were you praying that way?” The granddaughter replied, “I didn’t know what to say so I figured I’d let God put the letters together however He saw fit.”
 
Batterson continues, “Sometimes I feel that way too. I have no idea what to say when I pray. And that’s ok.
 
The first objective of prayer is praying about what to pray about. Prayer isn’t about outlining our agenda to God; it’s about getting into God’s presence and getting God’s agenda for us. Billy Graham once noted: “Prayer is not about using God, it is more often about getting us in a position where God can use us. I watched the deck hands on the great liner United States as they docked that ship in NY Harbor. First, they threw out a rope to the men on the dock. Then, inside the boat the great motors went to work and pulled on the great cable. But, oddly enough, the pier wasn’t pulled out to the ship; the ship was pulled snugly up to the pier.
 
Prayer is the rope that pulls God and us together.
 
But it doesn’t pull God down to us… it pulls us to God. We must learn to say with Christ, the master of the art of praying: ‘Not my will; but Thine be done.’” I hope you will join me in beginning the New Year with 3 days of focused prayer. Our LCMC Association has been encouraging congregations to join together in prayer over the past seven years. This year, I hope we at Our Saviour’s will join the concert of prayer. Enclosed in the newsletter is a general outline that you can follow – or join in prayer however you like. On Wednesday, January 9th – our first Connexion of 2019 – we will share dinner together and then celebrate with a “Night of Prayer and Worship”. May we enter into God’s presence and see what He has for us. God Bless you all in this new year! In Christ, Pastor Mark


Pastor Mark November Newsletter blog

 
 

Pale Blue Perspective  

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

 the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”    Psalm 19:1

  A few months ago, I watched a news program highlighting NASA’s space probe Voyager 1. Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 to explore our outer solar system. By 1990, it had traveled 3.7 billion miles from earth and sent back photos and information about space, the first of its kind. After completing its primary mission and before leaving our solar system, astronomer, Carl Sagan, asked NASA to turn Voyager’s camera back toward earth and take one last photo. What was captured on that photo seemed miraculous. One tiny pale blue dot, seemingly suspended in a beam of light, over 3 billion miles away – our very own planet earth, against the giant black backdrop of the universe. If you have ever seen the picture, there is cause to pause and ponder, and perhaps readjust your perspective. Our existence is so small and our planet so tiny in relation to the vastness of space and yet here we are. We might be small and we might feel insignificant but at this point, we are one of a kind. As of today, the Voyager continues to travel at 38,000 mph through interstellar space. It is 13.4 billion miles away from earth and only has to travel another 40,000 years for another chance at a flyby with the next closest star. We are talking about 40,000 YEARS, folks!! No, you won’t be alive to see it! What does it mean that in over 13 billion miles traveled, and over 41 years of time, there has not been a sniff of any other living creature nor inhabitable planet? Scientists continue to search the skies in hopes of finding some planet similar to earth that could sustain life – but as of today, the search goes on. While our eyes are drawn to distant galaxies, wondering about life in other places, I feel led to suggest that we pause and pray and give thanks to God for providing this planet and this life that we have to share together. As far as we know, there might not be another one like it in a quadrillion miles – that’s 1,000 trillion miles – that’s a long way! I hope you feel special right now. I hope you realize how unique you are and how incredible this planet is that has been given to us. 3,000 years ago, King David tried to capture this magnified reality when he wrote,

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him?

You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and

crowned him with glory and honor.”   Psalm 8:3-5

November is approaching, the month for giving Thanks. If you are like me, this year has flown by as if we have been on the space probe. As the year 2018 will soon be in the history books, perhaps we might take a look back, take a snap shot, maybe we will see something special, something miraculous, something pale and blue that draws your attention upward and outward toward our God who has made the heavens and earth and you and I. Tomorrow, my daughter, Jeriah, my youngest, turns 21 years old. I look back on October 23, 1997 at 9:38 a.m. – and remember the miracle, the tiny babe, held in my hands, having no doubt that the God above had blessed us here down below.

We have so much to be thankful for:

life, love, children, family, friends, faith, laughter,

adventure, even the miscues.

So, let us pause and ponder and thank God for placing us on this tiny pale blue dot, that He knows each of us by name, and the mighty miracle that we are suspended in the light of his glory forever. Yours in Christ, Pastor Mark



Come and have breakfast

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast”   John 21:12 This past July 29, we held our first “5th Sunday Breakfast” between worship services. We hoped to create an opportunity for our congregation to fellowship together. You all decided it was a great idea because every table was filled and the fellowship hall buzzed with conversation, laughter, and fun. The next “5th Sunday” is September 30, but because the Men’s Retreat is happening that weekend – we decided to not miss the opportunity and move our “5th Sunday Breakfast” to the 4th Sunday on September 23. Did you know that studies have shown that 90% of people decide to attend church because of a personal invitation.  Ed Stetzer also has stated in his book, “Comeback Churches,” that 97% of people come to faith in Jesus through already existing relationships. As a church, we can attempt to evangelize our community through mass media, canvasing and waving on the street corners, but it seems the most effective way to reach people with the love of God is by word of mouth – friend to friend. It is important, for us as a church, to use many and various methods to reach our community for Christ – but the tried and true method seems to be friend to friend. We hope to create more and more ways to strengthen the “friendship factor” inside our church. We also hope that it sets the table for you to invite a friend or neighbor who might be interested and/or need a church community. As we gather together on these “5th Sundays” for breakfast (or 4th Sunday in this case) – let’s deepen friendships with each other and also… ask the Lord if there might be someone waiting for an invitation.

Joining you for breakfast can be a safe way to begin.
P.S. – If you are interested in helping cook the breakfast, please contact Carol Curtis   206-271-8535
 
Your Friend in Christ, Pastor Mark