Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year, Fresh Start!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Looking for a fresh start emotionally and spiritually as you start a new year?  St. Mark is offering two great opportunities for you: 

First, all are welcome to "start over" this new year with a new sermon series focused on positive change that Jesus brings into our lives.  Series starts January 2nd!
Second, if you're looking for a place to GROW in God's love and GO with His love to help our world, you're invited to join our Starting Point membership course beginning on Sunday, January 17, 10:30am or Monday, January 18, 7:30pm.  Click HERE for details and to sign up.

Here's what some recent Starting Point course participants had to say: 
"I absolutely LOVED attending Starting Point classes. Thank you for the opportunity to join St. Mark Church, we are so thankful that God has led us to you."
"It was reassuring, in the classes, to know that St. Marks teaches and preaches the true Word of God directly from the Bible."
"I really enjoyed the classes. I relearned a lot of information that I forgot about since I was confirmed 20 years ago."

May God richly bless you and your family as you start a new year.  You matter and are loved!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

THE LETTER ... that shows you make a difference!


The following letter is from a family that we served in our food pantry and with the Christmas giving tree.

My name is XXXX..my wife XXXX and I and our two sons XXXX and XXXX want to just say THANK YOU.  Its been a very hard year for us and St Marks has been the biggest blessing.  I have had multiple health issues and it has kept me from working a lot this year and i barely pay rent every month and it isnt looking good.  We pray a LOT lol.  We have been blessed with two amazing sons and it is my single goal in life to provide them, and my wife with a happy healthy life.  St Marks has seriously helped fill in those gaps my health has created. This christmas the only gifts under our tree were from you and your members and we know the gifts arnt the important part of this holiday..the gift from God of his son here on earth is. But to hear your own childrens laughter and joy when the paper goes flying really helps a parent connect our feelings with the enormity of Gods gift to us.  Thank you for helping us this year and we pray all of you have a very very blessed Christmas as well!  

PLEASE SHARE THIS LETTER WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THIS CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 18, 2015

10 things-not-to-say-to-your-kids

Every parent wants to be a better parent. There is a lot of great information out there that will help you be a better parent. Here is something my wife Lydia ran across just today.

http://thekidcounselor.com/2011/01/10-things-not-to-say-to-your-kids/




GROW & GO                                                        

 “To establish a dynamic Christian congregation that is an inspirational magnet for every member of our community providing an opportunity to GROW a meaningful personal relationship with Jesus and then to GO make a difference now and for eternity.”    

THE THREE PILLARS OF THE GROW & GO VISION
Offer compelling worship
Grow healthy adults

Intentionally serve others in Jesus’ name


See you this weekend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

God's People Are Shining Jesus' Light

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light...For to us a child is born...He will be called Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:2, 6).  

I love the lights of Christmas.  They remind me of the inspired words of Isaiah written 700 years before Jesus was even born.  Jesus came to shine in the darkness.  He came to erase the darkness of sin in our lives.  That darkness causes pain, guilt and shame.  Notice the red lace next to the lights on our Christmas tree in the picture?  That red reminds us of the real reason why baby Jesus was born: to shed His blood to free us from the darkness of sin and give us the hope of eternal life.

I thank Jesus for shining His light into my life.  I also thank Jesus for shining His light through my fellow Christians!  This past month, we had over 300 St. Mark partners, adults and children, involved in our Bake, Rake, & Take community service project around our school.  You shined Jesus' light of peace to hurting people.

Through our annual Christmas Giving Tree initiative, our partners have blessed 162 needy children this Christmas season with gifts.  You shined Jesus' light of hope to hurting children.

Thank you, God's people, for shining Jesus' Light of love this Christmas season.  I am privileged to serve with you.  Be bold.  Shine brightly.

Bring your family and friends to our Christmas services...
Christmas Eve: 3:00, 5:00 or 7:00pm at our De Pere site (2066 Lawrence Dr, De Pere)
Christmas Day: 9:00am at our Green Bay site (1167 Kenwood, Green Bay)

Merry Christmas!  - Pastor Chris -


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Click HERE for Answers & Video


How well do you know the Christmas story?
Most of us know the general outline because we’ve heard or sung it or watched it being enacted in the Christmas programs at the local church or in the storyline from those endless Hallmark Christmas movies. We know about the shepherds, the angels, the “Wise Men,” the star, the innkeeper, camels, the long journey of Mary and Joseph, the baby in the manger, and we know about the gold, frankincense and myrrh. But how much of what we know is tradition and how much comes from the Bible?
Let's see what your Christmas IQ really is? Please answer the following questions below without first looking at the Bible or your Bible app on your phone. This is a wonderful tool to use when you gather his family and friends to celebrate this Christmas season.

http://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/christmas-and-advent/christmas-iq-test.html
Many of you have requested the video of the poet who welcomes you to church during the FIVE2.  Here is the video.

video

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Jesus Loves Planned Parenthood Staff

I was finishing off a second plate of turkey when my news app flashed the message, "Hostage situation at a Colorado Planned Parenthood office". I don't know about you but my nerves where already a bit on edge because of the worldwide threat of terrorism. My first thought when I read the text... AGAIN, SERIOUSLY!!! Another violent shooting... Yet another example of a fool with a gun ending someone's life. My frustration only grew as I heard more...
The guy went on his senseless rampage because he was pro-life... 
Does this incongruity bother anyone else?

Does abortion end life that God has created? Yes. Is every life sacred to God? Yes. Does God want us to enter places where abortions clinics (like planned parenthood) and execute the staff? Certainly not. There are numerous ways in our country we can speak up and defend unborn children. Violence is not the answer because violence doesn't change hearts or bring people closer to Jesus.

Jesus loves all people, enough to take the punishment we deserved for sin. Jesus loves all people and loves to lead them toward godly changes in their life. This is the message that we need to promote. This is the message that brings peace to a woman who has had an abortion. This is the message that can change the staff person who stands behind Planned Parenthood.

There is an amazing story about Abby Johnson, a planned parenthood advocate who changed. It was the shock of seeing an abortion performed and the genuine kindness of the Christians next door changed her and led her to Christ. I recommend checking out a 2 minute summary of Abby's story Here to see what our peaceful witness to Christ can do.

This current event reminds us of the value all life has to our Savior and much more his desire to spend eternity with each of us. Check out and support organizations that are reaching out to mom's facing a scary reality, they're pregnant and don't know what they are going to do with the little life inside of them. Bay Area Life Center is doing a great job of helping mom's choose life for their child and know Jesus their Savior. 




Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How Should Christians Respond to Terrorism?

The picture to the right is the scene outside the Bataclan concert hall where Helene Muyal-Leiris was one of 129 people who were murdered by terrorists in Paris this past Friday.  Her husband Antoine Leiris posted an incredibly moving message on Facebook telling the terrorists, "I will not grant you the gift of my hatred."

Antoine's response to his agony over losing his wife of 12 years prompted me to ask the question, how would I respond?  How should I respond as a Christian to yet another attack by terrorists?

Our natural response is to take justice into our own hands.  Just remember, that's the government's job.  They don't "bear the sword" for nothing (Romans 13:1-4). The government's job is to defend its people and bring to justice those who hurt us.  Some have argued that going to war against terrorists in other countries isn't defense.  That may be true.  It depends on the motives of those who are making the decisions.  If they are choosing to go to war as a way of defending us, then that's their God-given right.  They are acting as the arm of justice of God when they punish wrongdoers.

However, how do we as Christians respond in the face of such evil?  Listen to what God tells us in the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans in Romans 12:9-21.  Take a moment to read those verses.  God's answer is simple to say, much harder to do.  Overcome evil with good.  How?

1) Love as God first loved you.  The key is to view everyone as a soul for whom Jesus died and treat them accordingly.  Love changes people.  Just ask any former Muslim now turned Christian how powerful a force Jesus' love really is.

2) Pray for them.  Follow Jesus' example when He said in Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them..." even as they inflicted awful torture on His body.  Praying to forgive someone who has done awful things isn't easy.  Yet, the power to forgive comes from God.  Talk to Him about it.  He listens and then acts.  After all, He forgave you (and me.)  Forgiveness releases us from the pain.

3) Defend yourself, but don't take revenge.  If danger is imminent to you or those you love, take legal action to protect and defend yourself.  However, if harm has already been done leave room for God's wrath on the wrongdoer.  Remember, that's the government's job.  It's no accident that Romans 13 follows what God says in Romans 12.  As Antoine said, "I will not grant you the gift of my hatred."  He is leaving room for justice to be served.

4) Don't be afraid.  In case you forgot, God is still God.  He is always with us.  His words to Joshua so many centuries ago are still words for you and me today.  Read Joshua 1:7-9.

Terrorists may take our life, but they can't take our soul.  When Jesus rose from the dead, He proved His promise in John 14:1-3,  Jesus is coming back.  On that day, everything will be made right.  Terrorism will stop forever.  We will live forever.  In the mean time, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

SEX -- 5% and 41%

Fast forward to 2015. 41%. That is now the percentage of unmarried mothers in our "more enlightened" culture today. Some ethnic groups have a number that is as high as 77%. That is due, in large part, to the belief that sex is just physical, it's just an activity for you to enjoy when ever you want! So is that philosophy really good for our culture and the next generation of children and families?  How is the philosophy "I can do whatever I want with my body" working?
Consider the results of a recent government study on the subject:
Children born to unmarried mothers are more likely to grow up in a single-parent household, experience instable living arrangements, live in poverty, and have socio-emotional problems.  As these children reach adolescence, they are more likely to have low educational attainment, engage in sex at a younger age, and have a birth outside of marriage.  As young adults, children born outside of marriage are more likely to be idle (neither in school nor employed), have lower occupational status and income, and have more troubled marriages and more divorces than those born to married parents.
Women who give birth outside of marriage tend to be more disadvantaged than their married counterparts, both before and after the birth. Unmarried mothers generally have lower incomes, lower education levels, and are more likely to be dependent on welfare assistance compared with married mothers. Women who have a nonmarital birth also tend to fare worse than childless single women; for example, they have reduced marriage prospects compared with single women without children.
A majority of unmarried births now occur to cohabiting parents. Between 2006 and 2010, 58 percent of unmarried births were to cohabiting parents: in 2002, the proportion was 40 percent. Children born to cohabiting parents are more likely to see their parents eventually marry than are those born to non-co-residential parents.  Nevertheless, children born to cohabiting parents experience higher levels of socioeconomic disadvantage, and fare worse across a range of behavioral and emotional outcomes than those born to married parents.
What does a loving God have to say about this "three letter" subject? "What you believe about sex isn't working!" Come this weekend and you'll learn more about Jesus' love for you in this important area of your life.  Remember you matter and you are dearly loved!
Resources:
- See more at: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=births-to-unmarried-women#sthash.ReEchZDi.xpoUa9Gn.dpuf

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Grow your Kids' Talents and Gifts

As children reach different developmental milestones, they also begin to show signs of emerging abilities. God blesses each of us with talents such as in music, sports, and art. The New Testament says God also gives us special abilities known as spiritual gifts, such as serving, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy. 


Children don’t need to wait until they’re older to use their talents and gifts. But they may need help discovering and applying those things. And as their abilities develop, kids gain confidence by becoming more competent at the various activities they enjoy. 

Here are fill-in sentences to help your kids identify their talents and gifts. 

  1. I feel great when people notice how well I __________________. 
  2. My friends would say one of my best qualities is ______________. 
  3. I get annoyed when I have to ___________________________. 
  4. If I had a free afternoon, I’d enjoy ___________________________. 
  5. If I could volunteer, I’d really like to ___________________________. 
  6. The two happiest times in my life are ________________________. 
  7. One thing I do well without having to think about it is ____________. 
  8. People would be surprised to know that I __________________. 
  9. I feel like I help others when I ___________________________.
I found this and many other helpful parenting hints in St. Mark's Parenting Christian Kids Newsletter. Check it out by clicking here. Each month there is a new one available on the St. Mark Youth Page under Parenting Christian Kids - www.stmarkdepere.com/youth

In Jesus,

Pastor Hansen

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Do You Agree With This List?

What if I gave you a list of ten things that any church could do that would bring almost immediate renewal and a larger audience for the Gospel?

Would you be interested in the list?

Most would be.

So here is one such list from one of the top Christian leaders* in America:

  1. Simplify your structure by putting the authority to make most decisions related to the practice of ministry in the hands of those with responsibility. Translation: let your leaders lead.
  2. Call/hire young, have singer who are young, program young. Why? You attract who you have lead worship, and most churches are growing old.
  3. Become more contemporary in terms of music and graphics, d├ęcor and topics, website and signage. It's 2015. Really. You can check.
  4. Stop preaching and start communicating practical truth. There's a difference.
  5. Shift the outreach focus away from the already convinced toward those who are not.  It's called the Great Commission.
  6. Prioritize your Sunday morning children's ministry in terms of money and staffing, square footage and resources. Do you really not know, after all this time, that the children's ministry is your most important ministry for outreach and growth?
  7. "It's the weekend, stupid."
  8. Help everyone find their spiritual gifts and then help them channel those gifts toward ministry.
  9. Target men. Get the man, you tend to get the family.
  10. Proclaim the full counsel of God without compromise or dilution. All you get with a watered-down message is a watered-down church. And a watered-down church has nothing to offer the world it does not already have.

Now, what I just shared with you that the vast majority of churches already know this list.  Not only do they know the list, they would agree with most if not all of it.

But they refuse to act on it.

It's true.

And the reason tends to be the same, in church after church, around the world: they don't want to change.

Which brings up another list.

It's the list of the seven last words of the church:

"We never did it that way before."


Sources:  Adapted from James Emery White, The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bake Rake & Take Community Service

St. Mark staff, students, families, and friends are partnering for a community service opportunity where all can serve our neighbors around our Green Bay site (1167 Kenwood, GB).

Bake:  We are asking families to donate homemade (or similar purchased) breads by Wednesday, November 4th.  You may bake or purchase (pumpkin, banana, apple, cinnamon, etc.)  Please label all breads (NO NUTS PLEASE) and be sure to wrap them well.  Breads may be brought to the church or school.  Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st grade students will be decorating cards to include with the bread inviting neighbors to church services as well as sign up to have their lawn raked. All bread will be delivered by 2nd, 3rd, 7th, & 8th grade students on Thursday, November 5th.

Rake: Team up with students from our school and rake the lawns of elderly and disabled people around our Green Bay site.  Meet at the Green Bay site at 9am on Friday, Nov 13.  If you can't commit to a morning time slot to help, then meet at the Green Bay site at 3:30pm on Friday, Nov 13 for phase II of our raking project.  Be willing to commit to a 2 hour time commitment.

Take: Team up with students to collect donations to our food pantry from our neighbors who wish to participate.  Meet at the Green Bay site at 9am on Friday, Nov 13.  Be willing to commit to a 2 hour time commitment.

Sign up for the Rake and Take portion of this event is at http://stmarkdepere.com/serve.  Thank you!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Two HUGE EVENTS in October!

OCTOBER NEWSLETTER

October brings the cascade of Fall colors, the aroma of brat-filled tailgating and the fashion challenge of hunter orange camouflage!  October also brings TWO MAJOR events in keeping with the GROW & GO vision.




The most dangerous lies are the ones you never notice. They can twist your thinking in ways you'd never expect and can leave you with a life you never imagined. Your ability to recognize them can spell the difference between happiness and the loss of all you hold dear.  Do you see them?
The Twisted series will expose some common ways God's truth gets twisted and how we can recognize and overcome it.  Each one has the potential to destroy your relationships, cloud your decisions, and distort your perception of Jesus.  Starts October 24th!



St. Mark is please to offer a parenting seminar to our community entitled "Love and Logic.  Here is a little about what will be presented:

We are passionate about the real hope Love and Logic provides for parents and teachers.
We are a family business guided by the belief that nothing is worthwhile if it doesn’t improve lives.
We provide a loving, balanced approach that is neither permissive nor punitive.
We show adults how to discipline kids without losing their love and respect.
We focus on helping children develop personal responsibility, self-control and good decision making skills.
Unlike some approaches we don’t use complicated reward or punishment systems only focused on short-term compliance.
Instead, we focus on nurturing long-term relationships and reinforcing good character.
Sunday, October 25th @10:30a
St. Mark – De Pere   in the Hillside Room



GROW & GO
 “To establish a dynamic Christian congregation that is an inspirational magnet for every member of our community providing an opportunity to GROW a meaningful personal relationship with Jesus and then to GO make a difference now and for eternity.”    

THE THREE PILLARS OF THE GROW & GO VISION
Offer compelling worship
Grow healthy adults
Intentionally serve others in Jesus’ name

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Set a Bible 'Trap' for Teens

National Bible Week, observed in November, probably isn’t on your teens’ radar. But is the Bible? Surveys show that Americans of all ages revere God’s Word yet don’t really read it. The solution is to set a “trap” that gets young people magnetized to Scripture. Parents can adapt the strategy with these steps:

· Begin with yourself. Admit when your relationship with God seems dry, and use Scripture as a path out of that desert.

· Equip kids with the “how.” Use a teen-friendly Bible (and version like the NIV), as well as a journal. Choose a good starting point and read in small chunks.

· Create opportunities to explore “what.” Discuss how words and concepts tie into the bigger story God is telling.

· Help teenagers find time to read. Begin with a commitment to read every day for five minutes. It takes about 21 days to start a habit.

· Make use of opportunities to foster Christian friendships. Dig deeper with resources such as "The Way" student ministry. Hang out with friends in a casual atmosphere. More info on the web or facebook page  

· Raise the bar. Give teenagers an epic challenge, such as reading the Bible in one year. Never underestimate the power of high expectations!

Want more Parenting pointers? 

  • Check out ParentLink, a free resource we provide monthly at St. Mark.
  • Sign-up for the Love & Logic Parenting Seminar. All parents who want to raise faithful and motivated children are invited to the Love & Logic Parenting Seminar on Sunday, October 25. This seminar will be held from 10:30 AM-1:00PM at the De Pere site in the Hillside Room. Lunch and child care provided! Registration is open now for $5.00 per person at this address. We hope you can join us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Preaching to the Eyes

The Lindisfarne Gospels, a 1,300-year-old manuscript, is revered to this day as the oldest surviving English version of the Gospels. Lindisfarne is a small island just off the Northumberland coast of England. It is often referred to as Holy Island.

Its pages reveal curvy, embellished letters, strange creatures, and spiraling symbols of exquisite precision and beauty. Its artwork and symbols helped convey its message to those who could not read. Professor Richard Gameson from Durham University sees it as a precursor to modern multimedia because it was designed to be a visual, sensual and artistic experience for its audience. 

There are many strategies needed for the church to have an open "front door" – to help those who were previously unchurched to come, and feel not only welcomed but to feel connected. In reaching the culture today it is clear that the church needs to be focused on a key element of this: be visual.

Scholars point to many striking parallels between our day and that of the Middle Ages. But if we are entering a new era that is similar to the earlier medieval era, what does that mean? If we are following the medieval pattern – and I believe that in many ways we are – there will be at least five dynamics:
  1. widespread spiritual illiteracy
  2. indiscriminate spiritual openness
  3. deep need for visual communication
  4. attraction to spiritual experience
  5. widespread belief that "truth" is relative
These parallels have moved many to regard our Western society as neomedieval.  But it is the emphasis on the visual that churches today neglect to their peril. Over the last twenty years, we have decisively moved to a visually based world. The most formative influences are not books, theater, or even music.
They are films. Throw in videos and the rise of YouTube, and you have the essence of a cultural revolution – not to mention something of a return to the medieval. For example, during the Middle Ages, there was widespread spiritual illiteracy, as well as actual illiteracy. People couldn't read. This is why pilgrimages mattered so much to the pilgrims. Beyond the relics and holy places they thought might bestow grace, usually the cathedrals they visited held relics that told the story of faith through a medium they could understand: stained glass, pictures.

So while people couldn't, or didn't, read, they couldn't help but see, and from seeing, understand.
It's no different today. We are spiritually illiterate and are visually oriented and visually informed. Only now, instead of stained glass, we have film. At St. Mark, there is very little we don't try to convey visually, whether it's a song during worship or a point during a message.  It is the very reason a director of digital engagement will be hired in the future.  It's easy to see!   Using the visual is simply how people best receive information and meaning, content and context. And because its part of the visual age, it has a way of sneaking past the defenses of the heart.

Sources
Adapted from James Emery White, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated (Baker). Click here to order this resource from Amazon.
Flavia Di Consiglio, "Lindisfarne Gospels: Why is this book so special?" BBC Religion and Ethics, March 20, 2013, read online.
Umberto Eco, Travels in Hyper Reality: Essays, trans. William Weaver (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986), p. 73.