Greetings from the southwest corner of Wyoming

This blogspot is a way for our members and friends around the globe to stay informed. Make yourself at home. Create yourself a bookmark, friend us on FaceBook and join in as we keep the crucified God ever before our eyes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

St. Mark, the Evangelist

Today, April 25, is the feast day of St. Mark, the Evangelist. We call him “the Evangelist” because he is the author of the Gospel (Evangel) According to St. Mark. For this we are eternally grateful. God has given Mark as one of four Evangelists who preserved the words and deeds of Jesus in writing.
According to Eusebius’ church history (310 AD) Mark arrived in Rome with the Apostle Peter around 42 AD. As he worked with Peter over the following year, he wrote down Peter’s account of Jesus’ ministry before leaving for Alexandria, Egypt. So, he not only left a copy of the Gospel in Rome, he also brought one with him to Egypt.
In Alexandria, Mark established the earliest Christian Church on the African continent. This Church became one of the five centers of Christianity in the ancient world. Mark, himself, was its head pastor (Bishop) for the next two decades until he was martyred in 68 AD. This “Coptic Church” continues to be in the news today. This is the church where suicide bombers attacked on Palm Sunday (April 9), and where 20 men were beheaded in February a year ago.
Mark’s impressive legacy as a church planter and an author of the New Testament should not cause us to lose sight of his humble beginnings. It seems that he was not always so brave and steadfast as his martyrdom showed.
The Church that he founded also remembers him as the young man who ran away naked from the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of Jesus’ arrest (Mark 14:51-52). He was the one who abandoned Paul and Barnabas in the middle of their first missionary journey into Asia (Acts 13:13; 15:38). He may, also, have been the rich young man who “went away sad” when Jesus invited him to “sell everything he had, give to the poor, and come, follow Me” (Mark 10:21).
On a more positive note, Mark’s family apparently owned the home in Jerusalem where Jesus gathered with His disciples to celebrate the last Passover. This was the same home where Jesus visited his disciples on the day he rose from the grave. He came back to it again a week later and showed his hands and side to Doubting Thomas. Moreover, it was this house where the Holy Spirit descended in tongues of fire on the day of Pentecost. All of this makes it the oldest Church building in Christendom.
But my favorite part of Mark’s story comes from some of the last words that the Apostle Paul ever wrote. In 2 Timothy 4, as he was imprisoned and facing his imminent death, Paul wrote: “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. … Do your best to come to me soon…. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.
In these touching words, we see that after Mark had turned away from Jesus’ call to follow Him, after he deserted Jesus in the Garden, and after he had deserted Paul on his first missionary journey, he is not remembered for his failures, but for his usefulness.
Mark stands before us as an example of God’s grace. Mark stands among Matthew, Luke, and John as one of the pillars of the Church. But he is not there because of his personal selflessness, bravery, or strength. He is there because Jesus rose from the dead. He is there because Jesus makes us who are nothing into those who are something.
“For Mark, O Lord, we praise You, The weak by grace made strong.
Whose labors and whose Gospel Enrich our triumph song.
May we, in all our weakness, Reflect Your servant life
And follow in Your footsteps, Enduring cross and strife." (Horatio Nelson)


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Monday, March 6, 2017

CrossTalk: Lent - Fixing What's Wrong with the World

The story has been told that G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) once received a letter from The Times of London asking him to write on the theme, “What’s wrong with the world today?” According to this anecdote, Chesterton got out a sheet of paper and wrote,
“Dear Sir,
I am.
Yours, G.K. Chesterton”
This story is usually told as a punch line, an end to conversation. But today, Let’s see it as a starting point. Because once Chesterton is taken to heart, there is an awful lot still to say.
 
First of all, notice that the problem is not “out there.” The world’s evils, terrors, and pain are not because of external circumstances, and especially not because of other people. This may be our first and most constant thought, but it is a lie.
 
We see this clearly when somebody is blaming us for their problems. We can even see it, sometimes, when we are a neutral observer watching the blame-game happening between two friends. But we almost never see the truth of Chesterton’s quip while we are seeking the reasons for our own misfortune. It’s time to start seeing.
 
Second, notice that the problem is not just in me, but me. “I am,” the problem with the world. If the problem were only something inside of me, I could take some medicine, or do something to fix it. But if the problem is me, myself, the solution requires somebody other than me.
 
So, while the first thing is to stop seeing the problem outside of yourself, the second thing is to start seeing the solution outside of yourself. Sin is the problem, and I cannot fix it. So I should abandon that project.
 
The problem with me is that I am a sinner. The solution is that Jesus takes away the sin of the world. Sin is the problem, and Jesus can fix it. So I should bring the problem to Him.
 
This is the whole point of Lent. Rather, it is the whole focus of the Christian life. When John the Baptist came preaching repentance, it was not some new self-discipline which would finally achieve salvation. “Repent,” means: turn away from yourself and your own self-help projects, and to “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
 
Repentance is the daily exercise of taking serious the fact that “I am the problem with the world today.” Repentance takes a sober look at my own contribution to the mess we are in. Repentance looks at the evils I do and says, “I don’t want to do that anymore.” Repentance looks at who I am and says, “I don’t want to be that anymore.”
 
But repentance doesn’t stop there. It is neither an exercise in self-loathing, nor an attempt to boot-strap yourself out of the hole. In repentance, we uncover these ugly realities because we want to bring them to Jesus. We know that what we cannot change, Jesus can. We know that the unforgivable can, indeed, be forgiven.
 
Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross earned forgiveness for the whole world – not just the best of us, or the chosen few. And Jesus rose from the grave to give out that forgiveness freely in His Church. “Wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there I AM in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).
 
When and where your crucified and risen Creator forgives yours sins, you are truly forgiven, repaired, and restored. And where the one who is wrong with the world is fixed, the world is fixed with you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Hope and Guidance

Pastor Lange recently published the following article in the January, 2017 Lutheran Witness


Until recently, Living Wills were rare. But now we are compelled to consider them with every visit to the doctor. Living Wills convey our wishes to care-givers when we no longer can. They can either designate durable power of attorney for someone to make our treatment decisions, or they specify treatment options, like “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR), hospice, etc.

Does faith in a gracious God who creates, redeems, and sanctifies human life make our approach to these things different from the world's? Yes, as different as heaven and earth.

We believe that every day we breath is God's gift. “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses and still takes care of them.” (SC).

The unbelieving world is afraid that medical miracles might keep their bodies alive long after their souls have become useless. But Christians have no such fear. We know that the miracle of life is for body and soul together. When you are in God's hands, there is never any danger that He might keep our bodies alive longer He Himself wants to. And we are always in God's hands.

"Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's” (Rm 14:8). We need not fear either living too long or dying too soon. The real danger is not what might happen to our bodies, but what is happening to our souls.

Jesus' human life began with his conception and continued right on through His burial. So also our own. At His crucifixion, He remained True Man, not vegetable. He was loved and served to the very end. Then, in faith until His dying breath, He commended His soul into God's hands.

Living wills can and should help the people whom God has given you, to love and serve you. For this reason, you may wish to grant a Durable Power of Attorney in order to ensure that they remain able to serve you. Guided by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, they can see to it that God's will is done.

We pray, "Thy will be done," while we have full use of our faculties. This remains our only wish especially when our capacity to confess it is gone.

Bullet Points:
1. Don’t be pressured. No one is required to have a living will. U.S. law prohibits health care providers from discriminating against those who do not.


2. Study: A SmallCatechism on Human Life by John Pless. This is an excellent scriptural resource.


3. Confess your fears to your pastor and christian family. They can help you quiet them by encouragement from the Word of God.