St. Peter’s Lutheran Church

A Message for You

July 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

Shouldn’t God expect our best? by PASTOR MARK W. LOVE St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Some children were playing with an old replica of Noah’s ark from VBS and all the animals in miniature. In their conversation about Noah, they remembered that Noah sacrificed some of the animals on the altar as a thank offering for God’s special love that called them, protected them, and delivered them from the great flood. So they decided that they would do same and, without mom or dad’s notice, they built a small fire and sacrificed their defective or broken toys: a camel that had no legs, a giraffe that had lost its head and neck, a boat with a broken hull. Now you may be smiling as I was when I heard this story. Smiling and thinking that it sounds just like kids. When a professor of mine finished telling this story to a church full of people, he smiled and said, “Cute kids, eh?” But then his smile faded and with a pondering face he asked, “Do you think God looks at our often defective and broken sacrifices—and smiles? Does the Lord God who says ‘Your lamb shall be without blemish [Exs 12:5],’ smile at our second rate, and often bottom-of-the-barrel offerings and says: ‘CUTE KIDS!’” Let’s look at it from a different perspective. How cute is it when a husband or a wife thinks, expects and lives for themselves in deference to and the neglect of the spouse they’re supposed to love? How cute it is when a parent spends the vast majority of their income and time on themselves to the neglect of the child they’re supposed to love and care for? How cute is it when a person will only talk with you when they need you to do something for them? So then the questions must be laid upon us: How cute is it when a believer thinks, expects and lives for themselves in deference to and the neglect of the Lord and Savior they’re suppose to love? How cute it is when a believer spends the vast majority of their income and time on themselves to the neglect of the church they’re supposed to love and care for? How cute is it when […]

A Message for You

December 22, 2011 // 0 Comments

A Journey of Christmas with Joy in Hope by PASTOR MARK LOVE St. Peter’s Lutheran Church I loved the old Calvin and Hobbes cartoons during the Christmas season. During the days leading up to Christmas, Calvin’s thoughts and hopes became more and more haunted by Santa’s rule of gift giving: “If you’re good, you’ll get lots of toys and, if you’re bad, you’ll get nothing.” Trusting in the words, “He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake,” the ever in trouble, ever self-absorbed and self-serving Calvin is worried about Santa’s judgment. Knowing his guilt and mischief, Calvin tried anything that would enable him to be judged as good. In a Sunday spread of Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin is dreaming, and he sees Santa consulting with his elves about Calvin’s past year. As the panels of the cartoon flow, Calvin’s case grows worse and finally Santa declares, “I’ve made my decision,” and the dream ends. Calvin awakes as if from a nightmare and says with a frightened and horrified look, “I can’t take it.” For Calvin the days before Christmas were a long journey down the corridors of his life toward the day of judgment. It’s said that humor is born of tragedy and hard times. What made Calvin’s dilemma so humorous to me was all the creative ways he would think of to try and receive a good judgment. First, Calvin wanted his friend Hobbes to be his attorney pleading extenuating circumstances. Second, he would try to do all kinds of good things to prove he was good, but that lasted only as long as the next temptation. Third, he would try to reason away Santa’s ability to know about all the bad things he had done. As troublesome as Calvin and Hobbes‘ journey to Christmas may be for them, this journey is a joyous one filled with hope for all who believe in Jesus Christ. The angel proclaims, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling […]

A Message for You

October 13, 2011 // 0 Comments

Peace of Mind or Peace with God?  by PASTOR MARK W. LOVE St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Rockford It is becoming more and more obvious that many of the ears of today are listening for the spiritual but are unable and therefore unwilling to hear the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. What they would call a spiritual quest is in truth an emotional quest—cast in spiritual terms. The contours of both their spiritual struggles and the solution to them are determined purely by subjective feelings and sensations of peace and wellness. Michael Horton writes in Christless Christianity: “Once you make your peace of mind rather than peace with God the main problem to be solved in your life, the gospel becomes radically redefined,” (p. 39). Where the Gospel is redefined, so also must sin and sinfulness be redefined. What is forgotten in this quest for peace of mind or sense of wellness is the very captivity of the mind to sin, which is hostile to God (Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21). If I as a sinner cannot make peace with God, why am I so easily deceived into believing I can make peace with myself? At this point, self has become the almighty I must answer to rather than God the Almighty. The deeper reality of this deception is that where I have made my own peace of mind or peace within the main issue and purpose of my life, there I have made my sinful self the god to whom I and all others must answer. Having made God in my own image, I must go in search of those preachers and pastors who will shepherd not me, but the things I have done, the things and people around me and what they do so that I may have peace of mind and a happy heart. Horton describes the sad consequence of this quest. “‘How can I, a sinner, be right with a holy God?’ is simply off the radar… Once the self is enthroned as the source, judge, and goal of all of life, the gospel need not be denied, because it is beside the point,” (p. 40). How gloriously merciful our Lord is in that He makes us new creations born not of […]

A Message for You

August 11, 2011 // 0 Comments

Wisdom from above, wisdom from below  by PASTOR MARK LOVE St. Peter’s Lutheran Church “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace,” James 3:13-18 (ESV). Because the devil’s very nature is pride, we are all by nature vain, conceited, proud and self-willed. No one is born meek and gentle. However, some are wiser than others in their own eyes. When such people struggle with spiritual awakening, then God’s Spirit indeed can humble them and God’s chastisements can keep them humble. In general, sooner or later they will come forward with their wisdom. Such wisdom is offered for the sake of the others and the church. What is unknown to such wise ones is that what they call wisdom; God’s calls foolishness and idolatry for it rests not on the whole council of God. Inasmuch as it has not the unifying power of God’s Word, it soon begins dividing those God has made on in Christ. Such wise ones think that they alone have the eyes to see the flaws and defects of the church and its members. They believe themselves called and obligated to correct and improve the church. So certain are they in their ideas and wisdom that if others do not follow where they lead, it confirms their wisdom rather than making them question it. Such wisdom is born of our sinful pride and as such creates “envy and self-seeking.” It causes many in the church to be tossed to and fro from this idea to that, causing “confusion and every evil thing.” Such sages of wisdom are not easily persuaded, for while they would never admit it, their attitude, words and […]

A Message for You

April 7, 2011 // 0 Comments

Going for the Highest Good by PASTOR MARK W. LOVE St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Rockford “Silence is a text easy to misread.” These words taken from the “Quotable Quotes” in Reader’s Digest speak a great truth about the way people communicate with each other. The lack of communication in any relationship leaves those in the relationship to be guided by ignorance, assumptions and guesswork. The lack of honest and continuous communication is the chief cause for relationships to breakdown, whether in marriages, families, friendships or faith. Jesus Christ was born into the flesh for the purpose of accomplishing several things. One of the most important purposes was that God might speak to us in these latter days by His Son (Heb.1:2). This Jesus did and still does to make sure that there is no lack of honest and continuous communication from God to us. There is no silence on the part of God for us to misread. God offers us no reason for our relationship with Him to be guided by ignorance or guesswork and no reason for it to break down. This is not to say that God tells us all, that is, He tells us everything there is to know. God tells us all that is necessary for a vibrantly living faith life with Him. Let’s be clear, there are many areas where God would have us be ignorant, because our minds cannot grasp what He is able to do in every single thing, nor are we able to comprehend the “how” or the means through which He does things. God’s communication with us is living and fresh every day. While this seems hard to believe, we must remember, “The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart,” Hebrews 4:12. As we approach the Holy Week it is important we do not travel with a “been there, done that” attitude. This journey is with the living and active Word of God, a Word that will speak with a freshness that is new every day. This God promises us “His mercies are new every morning,” Lamentations 3:22-23. Now if His […]

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