Wednesday, December 24, 2014

VIDEO: Watch and See What Christmas Is

Share with your friends and family ... so they better understand the blessing at the end of the line!
video

Christmas With a Capital "C"

As of this writing, the GoFish song "Christmas with a Capital C" is one of the most requested songs on Christian radio. This song sampled my Christmas rant from “Put a Helmet On!” and has well over 17 MILLION hits on YouTube. The song and my routine is simply a response to the politically correct nonsense that has essentially censored the age-old American tradition of celebrating Christmas in stores, schools and businesses.

Of course “Christmas” itself is not being censored in that there is still a break given to school kids nation wide that has somehow morphed into a celebration of snow and winter, because after all, who doesn’t feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they see slush and freezing rain? It is the use of the word Christmas and its religious connotations that are being erased of course. The fact that we still have stores selling gifts, ribbon, trees, wrapping paper, tinsel, stars, ornaments, and the green and red theme colors is a sad testimony to what political correctness does to truth.

Even though all of these items are here ONLY because of Christmas, (not Hanukah or Kwanza or Ramadan) they pretend it isn’t there and by doing so it will force it to disappear. My beef with this fascism in the name of sensitivity by the way is not saying we shouldn’t be respectful of non-Christians and dissenting viewpoints. My problem was that this tradition has existed for well over 150 years in America. It is not about forcing non-Christians to celebrate Christmas, it is the fact that it has been taken away from everyone. Removing something that always was is a far cry from forcing it on others.

I could quibble about the immaturity and lack of tolerance from the small minority that is apparently outraged and traumatized by a dogmatic religion that would pound us over the head with such intolerant a concept as “Peace on earth good will towards men” when it suddenly occurred to me. Christmas is a gift. Christmas is a celebration of God almighty humbling Himself towards His creation in creating an opportunity for humanity to be restored to fellowship with its creator. Yet even from its inception there were those that refused the gift. Those who want the grace and forgiveness and love but are adamant that they want nothing to do with repentance, humbleness, and sanctification.

What has happened in America is a natural outcropping of the fallen man and his rebellion. We will accept God in small doses and only under the caveat that we get to decide who God is and what role He will be permitted to affect our behavior. We have the proof even in some Christian denominations that have kept the Jesus of “love” as long as love doesn’t conflict with the new cultural norm of morality. They allow the culture to define their faith instead of the purpose of Christianity and Christmas in redeeming culture.

Does Jesus love us all, you bet. Does love mean no perimeters for our choices? No. That is actually called hate. To allow someone to make choices that are repulsive to God without GENTLY and humbly steering them toward freedom isn’t love at all.

I guess what I’m saying is Christmas will never leave America. It will be celebrated by churches and in the homes of Christ followers who can decorate all they choose (for now). We are to offer the gift of Christmas to everyone and yet allow him or her the option to opt out. I feel sorry for America though. It was at one time such a beautiful tradition for us all. We are post modern now folks and secular, and so now we are to draw inspiration from holiday tree’s and freezing snow and wind to truly bring us as a nation together. What a gift we’ve been given huh?

-Brad Stine

**Brad Stine will be performing at St. Mark on Friday, March 20th!  Tickets on sale now by visiting http://www.stmarkdepere.com/bradstine

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's Your Favorite Christmas Song? Why?

There's just something about Christmas that makes even the worst singers among us belt out those old Christmas songs!  "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Andy Williams, and "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole are just a few of my favorite Christmas songs.  The tradition in our house is that on the day of Thanksgiving on the way down to visit family we tune into a Christmas radio station so that we can listen to our favorite Christmas songs.

What's your favorite Christmas song?  Why?  I'd like to hear from you what your favorite Christmas song is and why.  But let me ask a question: Why do you like to listen to your favorite Christmas songs?  Is it because they bring up favorite memories?  Is it because it just sounds cool?  What's the reason?

Let me ask you another question: Do you consider what Jesus did for you something worth singing about?  The apostle Paul put it this way, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16).  Both the Old and New Testament accounts are filled with the echoes of God's people singing His praises.  Even in heaven we will be singing God's praises (Revelation 5:13).  Why?

Why?  Because God kept His promise and sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to be born in time.  That first Christmas, Jesus wrapped himself in human flesh so that years later on a Friday we call good, He could give His life to save us from our sins and three days later take His life back again to prove that we are forgiven.  The greatest event in world history, the resurrection, would never have happened if Jesus had not been born in time to be our Savior.  That's something worth singing about!  Take a moment to check out this video link that I hope will help you keep Christmas in perspective.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

CHRISTMAS QUIZ

Here's a fun quiz you can share with family and friends to share the REAL meaning of the season.  Do the quiz first and THEN look at the answers!  No cheating!

http://www.orlutheran.com/Christmas_Quiz.pdf

http://www.orlutheran.com/Answers.pdf

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pres. Lincoln's -- Thanksgiving Day

As you gather around the table (and TV) this Thanksgiving with family and friends, I thought you might like to know where the tradition of this day in America came from. 

Lincoln’s original 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation came—spiritually speaking—at a pivotal point in his life. During the first week of July of that year, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. Four months later in November, Lincoln delivered his famous “Gettsysburg Address.” It was while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he committed his life to Christ. As he explained to a friend: 
When I left Springfield [to assume the Presidency], I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.
As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving each year, we hope they will retain the original gratefulness to God displayed by the Pilgrims and many other founding fathers, and remember that it is to those early and courageous Pilgrims that they owe not only the traditional Thanksgiving holiday but also the concepts of self-government, the “hard-work” ethic, self-reliant communities, and devout religious faith(Christiananswers)

Have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

God loves you! That's something for which to be thankful!

"Give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind" 

(Psalm 107:8)

 I can remember a story that my grandpa told me when I was a kid about something he said to his daddy when he was a kid.  He was about 8-years-old and his dad had invited guests over for dinner.  They had finished up dinner and mom asked my grandpa if he wanted to help her cut up the pie and then bring it out for their guests.  He said, "Sure" and then proceeded to cut up the pie so that each piece was perfectly distributed.  He wanted to be perfectly fair.

So, he brought the first piece out to his dad.  Daddy gave it to the guest next to him.  He brought out the second piece and daddy gave that one to the next guest.  He brought out the third piece and as daddy reached to hand that one to the next guest, he couldn't help but say, "It's no use daddy.  You're not going to get a bigger piece.  I cut them all the same."

It's human nature to expect that we should get the biggest slice of pie, isn't it?  Who cares about anyone else, we deserve the biggest slice.  Now, that may sound harsh, but sadly, because of my sinful nature, and yours, which we inherited from our sinful parents, that's hard wired into us.  If there's anything that leads us to complain more and be thankful less, I can't imagine what it might be.  The single greatest thankfulness killer is entitlement: the attitude that everyone owes me something, including God.

Here's the harsh reality.  Actually, we don't deserve anything good.  Actually, we only deserve bad from God because of the bad we've thought, said and done.  However, God doesn't treat us as our sins deserve.  That's mercy.  Moreover, God gives us the good things we don't deserve.  That's called grace.  Why?  The Psalm writer says it well, "Give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind" (Psalm 107:8).

I have my faith, my forgiveness, my family, my friends, my food, my job, my house, my car and my future because of His unfailing LOVE!  I don't deserve it, but I have it, because He loves me.  And because He loves me, He gave me Jesus.  "God so loved the world that He GAVE His one and only Son" (John 3:16).  And because Jesus gave His life on the cross and took it back again when He rose from the dead, I have life, life to the full and life eternal.  Can you imagine anything better for which to give thanks than that?  So as you enjoy Thanksgiving one week from today, don't forget to thank the One who truly has given you everything!  He loves you!  That's something for which to be thankful!

If you want to hear more of this message, then join me for our Thanksgiving Worship on Wednesday, November 26, at 6:30pm or Thursday, November 27, at 9:00am here at our De Pere campus (2066 Lawrence Drive, De Pere).

Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Chris


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Choosing To Play God - Assisted Suicide

Ever have anybody talk to you about assisted suicide or "mercy killing" and you didn't know what to say?  Here is an article that has helped me with this subject.

A 29-year-old woman named Brittany Maynard, suffering from an aggressive brain tumor, died this past Saturday.

But not from the tumor.

She took her own life in the name of "death with dignity."

It became national news because she had taken to social media to announce her decision to take her life. She even landed on the cover of People Magazine. Collectively, it brought the issue of "right to die" to the forefront of public conversation.

The Bible is very clear about the taking of a human life. In Exodus 20:13, in the sixth of the Ten Commandments, God says, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13, NIV).
The key word there is "murder."

Murder is the deliberate, willful, pre-meditated taking of a human life out of hatred, anger, greed, or self-centered convenience. The sixth commandment is not talking about the killing that takes place in war, in self-defense, or even in capital punishment. Those are important discussions, but they're not the focus of the sixth commandment.

And the sixth commandment doesn't speak to the killing of other creatures - such as animals,
…but of human beings.

The reason is simple - it's because life is sacred. Not just some lives, but every life. The fact that each and every one of us was created in the image of God gives each and every one of us infinite worth and value. Taking it upon ourselves to end a life is the ultimate act of defiance against God, for life is His and His alone to give and take.

It doesn't matter what the quality of life is for that person. It doesn't matter what the cost of their life will be to society. It doesn't matter how productive they are, smart they are, beautiful they are. It doesn't matter whether we like them or not.

All human beings have infinite worth because they are made in the image of God. And the taking of a life - any life - is showing contempt for God and His image. Life is sacred. It is not ours to do with as we please. Only God can end it or direct its ending. Euthanasia is the practice of assisting or enabling death, usually because the person is old, in pain, or terminally ill. The word "euthanasia" is from two Greek words, "eu", which means good, and "thanatos," which means death. So the word literally means "good death." 

And those who support euthanasia use terms carrying that sentiment, such as "mercy killing" and "death with dignity." The rationale is that individuals or family members have the right to end their own or someone else's life if they feel it seems unbearable. There are two kinds of euthanasia – passive, and active. Passive euthanasia is when the individual or family members decide not to use extraordinary means to extend the process of dying when there is no hope for extending life. Very few Christian ethicists would challenge that choice. They would add, however, that food and water are not extraordinary efforts. That is basic to anyone living. The real issue is active euthanasia, which is the direct killing of a patient because a disease may be terminal, or the choice to withhold basic assistance that would prolong life in a substantive way, ...simply to avoid pain or difficulty.

The more direct term is assisted suicide. And it is every bit as much the taking of a human life as any other form, because it's not our life to take, or our decision to make. Compassion can be poured out on people who are suffering, and we can and should stand with them, pray for them, and encourage them to take advantage of everything that is available in terms of pain management and hospice care,... 
...but the taking of a life, for the sake of the quality of life, is against the sanctity of life. 
So while ending our life on "our" terms sounds like a statement of personal rights that should be embraced, it's not.

It's playing God with our own lives.

And we're not God.

James Emery White

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Something that really matters: Philippians 1:1-11






Christians will live and die by the Word but rarely actually read it. Let's change that. Join me in my studies.

Philippians 1:1-11
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus
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 and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Last month we finished talking about Paul's 1st and possibly only visit to the city of Philippi (Acts 16:12-34). Paul began a church there with some unlikely founders: a rich business woman – Lydia, a former slave girl (I’m assuming that she continued to follow Jesus after the demon was driven from her), and a middle class jailer. With such random backgrounds it would be easy to think this church was destined to fail but today we read perhaps the dearest, sweetest letter of Paul in the New Testament. This letter, although small in size, is packed full of verses that show up today on walls, coffee mugs, and t-shirts. It is from this book we get the impression of what church (an assembly of believers) should really look like.

From the start, Paul shows complete love and concern for his fellow church people. He's thankful for them, prays for them, has joy in their partnership and is hopeful for them to endure in their faith to the end. The church people are in his heart. Paul longs for them with the affection of Christ. In these statements there is no stronger way to express how much they meant to him. He loved them as much as Christ, thinking them more important than his own life. All Paul's love leads to one continual prayer for them: Love abounding in more knowledge and depth of insight. Whatever they knew of God and however they were showing it in their everyday life Paul's desire is that they would always grow in it.

This text leads me to:

Be thankful for...
I'm thankful for fellow church people. I know that as I face all the battles of trying to live my faith in this hard, sinful world there are many others at St. Mark who can relate and remind me of Jesus' love for me as I also in turn remind them. We certainly need each other. I'm thankful we have each other.
Confess...
It is easy, so easy to talk past each other and get defensive in church world. I'm sorry for times I've jumped to conclusions and forgotten to love people as Christ does.  
Ask...
I'd ask that God provide the same kind of compassionate love Paul had for God's people to the people of St. Mark. Show us Lord that Church is not a big building and nor is it a guilt ridden obligation but it is real people bonded together in the truth that by nature we are lost in our sin and in Jesus fully forgiven. 
Do...
I'm going to talk to my church family about more than just the weather. I'm going to ask questions like, "How's it going..., really?" and then listen.


What does Philippians 1:1-11 lead you to Be thankful for, Confess, Ask, and Do?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Do you have to believe the whole Bible?

Q:  Do You Have To Believe The Whole Bible?
A:  Your chest feels as if an elephant is dancing on it. You're gasping for air. Sweat is glistening on your face. You are in the emergency room of a hospital. Nurses are hooking wires all over your chest. Another nurse is searching for a vein to start an I.V. Another nurse is putting a small pill under your tongue. After looking at the monitor and the EKG tape, the doctor informs you that you are having a heart attack. It's a frightening scene. Other tests prove that there is a blockage in your heart. The doctor tells you what has happened to your heart and then proceeds to explain what needs to be done to repair your heart so that you can continue to live.
Are you going to believe everything he says? Or are you going to pick and choose what you want to believe and disregard the rest, which could cost you your life? Your life depends on believing everything the doctor tells you.
There are people who believe the whole of the Bible. There are people who don't believe anything in the Bible. But how can a person believe just some of the Bible? How does a person pick and choose what parts of the Bible are true and what parts are not true? How can a person believe that Jesus died on the cross to take the sins of the world away and yet not believe that Jesus rose from the dead? How can a person believe that Jesus did miracles, but that Jonah could not have spent three days in the belly of a great fish?
What is true and what is not true? The Bible is God's Word. Not believing some of the Bible will lead to doubting all the Bible. The Bible is not a collection of human ideas and thoughts. The Bible is God's Word, given word for word by the Holy Spirit to human writers. If any part of the Bible is merely human thoughts, and not God's Word, then all of God's Word can't be trusted. If it is God's Word, then all of it is true and is to be believed.
We believe the entire Bible is God's Word and it is true. Our belief is not founded on shaky ground. First, there is more evidence for the documents of the Bible than for any other ancient book. Second, all the writers of the New Testament wrote within the first century of Christ's birth. They all knew Jesus. Third, even historical facts cited by the writers have been proven to be true. Fourth, God promised that the writers would tell the truth. The Holy Spirit guided them so that they did just that.
We believe all of the Bible because in it God tells us that he loves us sinful human beings so very much that he sent His Son Jesus to live, suffer, die and rise for us so that we could be with him in heaven. That is why God tells us that his words "are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).
God's Word is all true. You can trust every word of it from beginning to end.(wels.com)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Still Time To Sign Up For St. Mark Fall Activities!

"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."
(Proverbs 16:9)


This is a lesson that I've been learning my whole life.  There are still times I get frustrated when life doesn't go my way.  Can you relate?  Here's what I've learned.  God is good.  God is wise.  God is powerful.  God is my Friend.  God is my Savior.  He tells me, "Use your head and heart to plan your days, weeks and years.  Do your best to glorify me each day in what you do.  However, remember that in my loving wisdom, I establish your steps.  I am the One who makes all things work for your good.  Trust me."  So the next time you get frustrated because your way didn't work out, just remember the One who loves you has a better plan.  Trust Him.

Trusting God's plan and purpose for us, here are a couple of upcoming events with which we invite you to get involved: 

There are still seats available at this Excellent Marriage Seminar in which you will be given tools for an excellent marriage!  You have until October 21, 2014 to sign up.  The cost is $50/couple, cost includes lunch!  Go HERE for information and to sign up.



We need your help!  We have seven different projects that we are using to serve people with the love of Jesus this Fall!  Go to the Welcome Center or the PIC and sign up for one or more service projects coming up.  You also can sign up for four of them online HERE.  Sign up by Tuesday, October 21st!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Something that really matters Acts 16:26-34

God wired us with an internal desire for more. The satisfaction for this desire is only found in Him. This is why I'm devoted to something that really matters - God and finding out his desire for my life. With this in mind I'm reading the Bible. Join me at the beginning of each month I'll post a portion of what I'm studying. With the Lord's blessing we will continue to uncover what really matters -- God's will for our lives.

I'm using a real simple system to focus in on the text. I'll read and listen to the text and ask what God might be leading me to Be thankful for, Confess, Ask, or Do. I'll journal out what's on my heart and mind. I invite you to do the same.

Our Bible reading continues… (Acts 16:26-34, NIV84)

“Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.”
___________________________
            We last left Paul abandoned in a dark, dank jail cell, bloodied from the unjust wounds of the days selfless and godly acts on behalf of a poor servant girl. Paul and Silas had the right to be angry let alone furious but they sat singing praises to their God. Amazing! But it gets even better. God sends a violent earthquake. The jail is open and justice is served. God hears their prayers and rescues his people. But God was not telling them to run out of there as fast as they could. God had something even more important for Paul to do. This middle class worker, the jailer, had in this moment an opportunity of a life time and Paul was there to be part of it. Roman soldiers were duty bound and if any of their prisoners escaped on their watch they would receive the punishment of that prisoner, or worse. After near suicide, the jailer looks to Paul for salvation from what we can’t be entirely sure but Paul makes the most of this moment and directs the jailer to believe in Jesus. This short sentence no doubt unpacked that evening to not only the jailer but his whole family. They were filled with joy because he had come to believe in God. The beating that Paul and Silas received, the false imprisonment was worth it. The pains and trials we go through in order to share our faith are always worth it. Trust God our Savior. He brings good for his people.
And so the church in the city of Philippi is started with some unlikely founders: a rich business woman – Lydia, a former slave girl (I’m assuming that she continued to follow Jesus after the demon was driven from her), and a middle class jailer. If God can start a church with this ragtag team I wonder what he can do with us?

This text leads me to:

Be thankful for...
Lord you are always working to bring more people into your family. It is truly a highlight of a lifetime to be used by you to impact someone’s eternity.  
Confess...
There are too many times I would like to have it easy in this world instead of doing the hard work and living through the hard situations that are part of your will for our life, that bring us closer. Forgive me for my impatience.
Ask...
Give me the words to speak as boldly as Paul, that in the moment, one more family might be brought to faith in you.
Do...
Lord give me the eyes to see each person I interact with as a special treasure that you were willing to die and rise for. Help me share the same kind of mercy you first showed to me.
________________________
Those are my thoughts. Please read through the text one more time and let me know if you notice anything else.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

REMINDER -- The Police say ...

"10 Things Every Police Officer Wants Parents To Know - NOW!"

Thursday, October 9th - 7:00-8:15 pm at Riverside Christian Childcare in Allouez. 
Thursday, October 16th - 7:00-8:15 pm at the St. Mark De Pere site in the Hillside room 

Capt. Todd Thomas will discuss what you can do to keep your children safe.  Some of the subjects that will be discussed are signs of drug/alcohol use, dangers lurking on the internet, home security, gangs, and smart phone issues.  Childcare will be provided.  Bring your friends!  MARK your calendars now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2014 Fall Activities at St. Mark!

"Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17).

No matter what we do as a congregation it is our goal to impact our community in a positive way in the name of Jesus through relevant teaching, engaging worship, servant leadership, honest friendships, fervent prayer, and expressions of compassion.

We have a lot of ways to get involved in making a difference in our own lives and the lives of others, always giving thanks to God for the opportunities we have.  You may be asking yourself, what exactly is going on at St. Mark?  How can I get involved?  Great questions.

Here are some suggestions for you to explore!

New to St. Mark?  If you are not a partner at St. Mark and want to find out more about why we do what we do, then join us for our next Christian Life and Service Seminar (CLASS) series starting Monday, October 6, 7:30-8:30pm.  For more information go to http://www.stmarkdepere.com/frequently-asked-questions.

Want to explore a Small Group Bible study (Oasis Group)?  Life is best done in circles of other people.  Want to connect on a deeper level?  Get plugged into one of our Oasis groups.  We have something for just about everyone.  Go to http://www.stmarkdepere.com/oasis.

How Do I Share My Faith?  Join Pastor Chris in a practical and biblical discussion about engaging in spiritual conversations with people far from Jesus.  Sunday, September 21, 10:30am-11:30am.  Childcare provided.  For more information go to http://www.stmarkdepere.com/care.

Divorced or Going Through a Divorce?  Our Divorce Care group runs from 9am-10am Sunday mornings at our De Pere campus.  For more details contact us at churchoffice@stmarkdepere.com.

Family Matters Parenting Seminars  All parents are welcome to join us for these excellent opportunities to hear from the experts!  

Thursday, September 18 at our Riverside Campus (3235 Riverside Drive, Green Bay) “The Do’s and Don’ts of the first 10 Years.”  This presentation will be held from 7:00-8:15pm on these evenings and will offer a physician’s advice for parents.  No registration needed.

Thursday, October 9 at our Riverside Campus and Thursday, October 16 at our De Pere campus “10 Things a Police-Officer Wants Parents to Know Now!”  These presentations will be held from 7:00-8:15pm on these evenings and will offer great advice from police officers as to how to protect your children online and elsewhere.  No registration needed.

Mission Builder Seminar  Do you wish you felt more fulfilled in life?  Join us for this seminar that will help you grow your understanding of who you are and how you can best use your abilities to make a difference in this world!  Saturday, September 27, 9:00am-12noon at our De Pere campus.  Register by Sept. 24 by e-mailing Pastor Chris at chris.johnson@stmarkdepere.com.




SMiLe for PreK-4 and Kindergarteners  It’s held every Sunday morning during the 9am and 10:30am worship so that children can have God’s Word brought to their level.  To  register, e-mail Mr. Tad at tad.schubring@stmarkdepere.com.

Intergenerational Gatherings  Gather with a small group of people and talk about being a Christ follower in today’s world.  The inter-generational idea is for our adults to model to our teens what a maturing Christ follower acts like.  Go to stmarkdepere.com/youth for more information or call Mr. Tad at 920-336-2485.

Girl Talk—1st & 3rd Sundays of the month, 6:00-8:00pm

Guy Talk—2nd Sunday of the month, 6:00-8:00pm

Guys Night Out—4th Thursday of the month, 5:00-7:30pm

Mentor Training Workshop  Connections...it’s all about connections.  We need strong Christians to help connect today’s young people as well as our new partners to God and to others.  We need mentors.  Join us for this training opportunity on Saturday, October 4, 8:00am-12noon at our De Pere campus.  For more information e-mail Mr. Tad at tad.schubring@stmarkdepere.com.

"An Excellent Marriage" Marriage Seminar  This is for all married or engaged couples.  On Saturday, October 25, 9am to 1pm, Pastor Mark Jeske will be presenting better communication methods and how to appreciate each other's uniqueness.  Register before October 1 for the early bird price of $40/couple!  
Go to http://www.stmarkdepere.com/care to register.


Faith in Action Service Opportunities  We have many volunteer opportunities from our worship service support such as greeters, ushers, little lambs nursery childcare, soul cafĂ© servers and so on to our Food Pantry which serves many people in our area.

Coming up on Sunday, November 2, from 1-4pm, we will have a special opportunity to reach out to the community with Jesus' love!  If you want to get involved, go to http://www.stmarkdepere.com/serve for more information and to sign up.  We need your efforts and abilities!

These are just a snap shot of all that is going on!  There's more!  Go to http://www.stmarkdepere.com/calendar for more events on our calendar!

I'd be interested in hearing from you what you have been doing in your neighborhood or community to share the love of Jesus!

- Pastor Chris

Monday, September 8, 2014

Spiritual Growth Falls on the Adults

Five percent versus 41 percent. Back when I was growing up in the era when basketball shorts were, well … short, only 5 percent of the children were born out of wedlock. Now more than 41 percent of children in America are born out of wedlock; that percentage is even greater is some communities. Due in part to divorce rates being painfully high, many American adults have chosen to jettison "marriage," creating a new non-marital underclass that passes on disastrous consequences that will harm generations to come. In some American neighborhoods, children and teenagers have never even been to a wedding, since marriage has simply ceased to exist as an expectation in their culture.

The "family" has drastically changed. The dynamics of single-parent families, blended families, the impact of new technology and social networking, not to mention overloaded schedules, have presented parents and even the church with a whole new set of challenges. In the wake of all this cultural change, the church has too often been content to pretend they are boldly leading people into the 1950s. The key question is: How can the local church help the families of today? The answer is: Focus on adults, not children!

We need to learn from our past … mistakes. In the past decades, the Christian church has spent far more time teaching and entertaining children than growing healthier adults and equipping parents. In an effort to help families, the church has offered confirmation classes, Sunday school programs, youth ministries, Vacation Bible Schools, Christian day schools, Christian daycares, etc. Originally, such programs were in large part to be tools designed to help parents disciple their own children in the faith, but too often these well-meaning programs morphed into "ecclesiastical crutches" and "substitutionary parents." Regardless of the approach chosen, the problem was parents were clearly given the secondary role of the discipling of their own children and the primary role was given to the "church professionals." This was in direct contrast to what the Bible taught and reformers like Martin Luther emphasized on the first page of his Catechism: "As the head of the family should teach them in the simplest way to those in his household." If your child or teen knows more about the Christian faith than you do, if she can answer basic questions like "Why did Jesus have to be true God and true man?", "Why is Good Friday called 'good'?", or "What really happens to a person when he dies?", "What's my purpose on this earth?" and Dad or Mom can't answer, the local church has not helped that family. The tragic truth is, today, very few parents are actively involved in discipling their own children, which has brought about a plethora of unintended consequences. That's not healthy, and the local church doesn't help the family if it continues to perpetuate such a debilitating practice.

So what can the church do to help the family? The church needs to return to the priority of adult spiritual growth. We, in Christ's church, need to remember children grow best when adults are spiritually well-fed. The importance of adult spiritual growth is critical to the nurture of children. That's the biblical model that needs to be recaptured. Continual spiritual adult growth is not an option but a biblical expectation. The Apostle Paul said, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things" (Philippians 3:12-15). "All" of us need to be straining and pressing on. And you thought after just a few years of being involved in a small group Bible study, maybe three years of volunteering in the Sunday morning children's program and after a mission trip to Mexico, you could put a check in the spiritually mature box. Apparently not. Apparently, according to the Bible, the quest for spiritual maturity is a lifelong endeavor.

And it is this lifelong endeavor that benefits the family! When children see Mom and Dad taking their faith seriously, growing in it, intentionally practicing it, they often will, too. No one has a greater impact on a child's faith life than a parent. "Churches, on average, have about 40 hours per year to influence the family vs. parents, who have 3,000 hours of influence per year." (Reggie Joiner, "Think Orange") The local church that makes the spiritual growth of adults a top priority accelerates the effectiveness of its ministry to marriages, families and … the community. Remember, adults who haven't grown in their faith or have forgotten much of what they once learned, not only will they not teach their faith to their children but they will not share it with others! That is one of the main reasons the local church has little to no impact in the community. We can do better!

Christians are rightly concerned about the family crisis in our society. There are many contributing factors in the breakdown of the family today, and the church needs to be honest about its contribution. One thing the local church, in an effort to help families, can do is staff, budget and plan around this biblical maxim: The family is stronger and children grow best when adults are spiritually well-fed. It's about the adults!

Dr. John Parlow is pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 2066 Lawrence Drive, De Pere.

**Column courtesy of Green Bay Press-Gazette - Friday, September 5, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Something that really matters Acts 16:16-25


God wired us with an internal desire for more. The satisfaction for this desire is only found in Him. This is why I'm devoted to something that really matters - God and finding out his desire for my life. With this in mind I'm reading the Bible. Join me at the beginning of each month I'll post a portion of what I'm studying. With the Lord's blessing we will continue to uncover what really matters -- God's will for our lives.

I'm using a real simple system to focus in on the text. I'll read and listen to the text and ask what God might be leading me to Be thankful for, Confess, Ask, or Do. I'll journal out what's on my heart and mind. I invite you to do the same.

Our Bible reading continues...(Acts 16:16-25)
"Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them."
___________________________

When I read through this section I hear Paul and the other believers doing what Christians do, gather together for encouragement and prayer. The girl with a demon speaks out the truth but Paul is annoyed by it. Perhaps because everyone knew she was demon possessed and that would give the wrong impression of who Jesus is and what he stands for. Paul drives that demon out and perhaps this servant girl becomes the 2nd named person to be converted in Philippi. Interestingly enough Lydia most likely rich from her title and this servant girl are the people mentioned. God doesn’t play favorites based on social/economic status. What a crazy beginning for this Church at Philippi!
Paul did what was right by driving out that servant girl. The men who were using her were filled with anger over their earthly loss of money. They drag Paul and Silas to the magistrate with trumped up charges. (Not to mention a bit of racism, "these… Jews".) It's hard to imagine how unfair it must have felt for Paul and Silas, having done the right thing, to be severely flogged and locked in prison. Yet they were, praying and singing hymns to God. Awesome! I want some of the boldness and faith that God gave to Paul and Silas.

This text leads me to
Be thankful for...
God reaches out to all different kinds of social statuses - the rich and poor alike. I'm also thankful that our country doesn't currently persecute Christians to the extant as was seen in this text.
Confess...
It is far too easy for me to complain or get angry when things don't work out or the kids do something wrong. I spend more time whining than being thankful for a God who loves me and has heaven waiting for me.
Ask...
Give me boldness like Paul and Silas so that in the face of injustice I would have a level head and be grounded and safe in you. Lord, I also pray for those Christians in other parts of the world that are suffering at the hands of ISIS and other groups. Give them boldness to stand firm. Protect them that they would continue to live and be a testimony to the power of your grace.
Do...
Lord lead me to do what I know needs to be done, not just what is comfortable to do.

Those are my thoughts. Please read through the text one more time and let me know if you notice anything else.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

FAMILY MATTERS - Seminars Announced!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11


FAMILY MATTERS Seminars  

"Dos and Don'ts for the First Ten Years:  a physician's advice for parents.”


Thursday, September 11th - 7:00-8:15 pm at the St. Mark De Pere site in the Hillside room 
Thursday, September 18th - 7:00-8:15 pm at Riverside Christian Childcare in Allouez. 

Dr. Erik E. Johnson and Dr. Jennifer Hoyer will be helping parents better care for their children.  Some of the subjects that will be discussed are nutrition, vaccines, common childhood illnesses, safety and trauma issues.  Childcare will be provided.  Bring your friends!  MARK your calendars now.



"10 Things Every Police Officer Wants Parents To Know - NOW!"

Thursday, October 9th - 7:00-8:15 pm at Riverside Christian Childcare in Allouez. 
Thursday, October 16th - 7:00-8:15 pm at the St. Mark De Pere site in the Hillside room 

Capt. Todd Thomas and Lt. Jeff Engelbrecht will discuss what you can do to keep your children safe.  Some of the subjects that will be discussed are signs of drug/alcohol use, dangers lurking on the internet, home security, gangs, and smart phone issues.  Childcare will be provided.  Bring your friends!  MARK your calendars now.


The Next Sermon Series
           
THE GOSPEL JOURNEY (Sermon on the Mount)

August 17, 2014               Gospel Journey      The Power of Presence

LET'S TALK ABOUT ... SEX

August 24, 2014               Pornography & Homosexuality

August 31, 2014               Outside the Fence of Marriage


I look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Pastor John Parlow