Wednesday, December 21, 2016

That's Why I say Merry Christmas!

"I love Christmas, but I hate the stress."  That was what one person recently said to me as she stopped for a moment to say hello in my office.  

Sadly, Christmas often stresses us out because it heightens our relentless pursuit of perfection.  We work hard to find the perfect gifts and wrap them with the perfect paper.  We endlessly stress out to get the perfect foods for the party.  We worry about getting the perfect family picture taken and getting the perfect Christmas cards out on time!  Why all the stress about perfection when the only perfection we need comes from that baby who was announced to imperfect people?

The night that Jesus was born, the angels were sent by God to announce Jesus' birth to shepherds in fields nearby.  Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I wonder why God sent angels to shepherds.  Stop and think about it: angels are bright and shiny.  Angels are perfect.  Angels can't say the wrong thing.  Wouldn't it have been better for God to send angels to everyone to announce Jesus' birth, instead of shepherds?  But no, God sent them to shepherds.  People who were ordinary, dusty and dirty, and no doubt smelled a little bit...have you ever smelled a sheep?

Why would God send bright and perfect messengers to dirty and imperfect ones?  Isn't it because the perfect object of their message, Jesus, came to save those who are imperfect?  That's right.  The angels said, "Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you.  He is the Messiah, the Lord" (Luke 2:11).

The reason Jesus was born and lived perfectly 33 years on this earth and then died and rose again is simply stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "God made him (Jesus), who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  That's what makes Christmas worth celebrating.  That baby grew up to be my Savior, and yours.  He took my sin upon himself when He died and He gave me His perfection.  I'm righteous, in other words, right with God, in spite of all of my imperfections, because of what Jesus did for me.  And He did the same for you.  That's why I say, "Merry Christmas!"

You're invited to join us this weekend as we celebrate the timeless love of our Savior and what He did to save us.

Worship times on Saturday, December 24: 5:00pm and 7:00pm at our De Pere site (2066 Lawrence Dr, De Pere)

Worship times on Sunday, December 25: 9:00am at our De Pere site 9:00am at our Green Bay site (1167 Kenwood St, Green Bay - 2 blocks north of Lambeau Field on Oneida St.)

Merry Christmas from our St. Mark family to yours!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

You'll never fully understand...

         You cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. (Ecclesiastes 11:5b)

This was the striking verse of the day recommended on my phone this week. I was taken back by its beautiful simplicity. Solomon in all his splendor and wisdom and life experience came to this conclusion.

This verse is a reminder:

  • When things go wrong, it is okay to not know why. We're not God.
  • No matter how much we know, or discover, or invent, or create - we have limits. We're not God.
  • We can't and won't fully understand God. We're not God.
These conclusions, I suppose can be frustrating, scary, or disheartening to some. And yet, as I ponder Christmas this month I'm encouraged. He who is and works beyond our understanding became one of us so that we would understand that he completely knows and loves us. He knows what it is to be a toddler, he knows what it is to get hurt, he knows what it is to be tempted, he knows how much our sins hurt us. Perhaps the most unfathomable thing about God is how he, after becoming one of us gave his life on a cross for us. 

We may not understand the work of God but I'm thankful we can see and know his love through the Christmas story.

Blessed Christmas,

Pastor Eric Hansen

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How to Heal a Divided Nation

I don't know about you, but I've been very troubled by what I'm seeing across our nation in the past week.  When demonstrations turn violent and become riots and destroy property and hurt people, that's wrong.  There have been hundreds of hate crimes since the election.  Hate crimes are wrong.  Click on the following link for the story:  
Personally, on Facebook and other social media avenues, I've been shocked to see the hateful comments being used as carelessly as the two leading candidates used their words.  Do we really want to continue that?  
People are asking me how we can heal this nation?  Here are three points to keep in mind in the coming weeks:
1) Be careful what you say.  I am reminded of what it says in Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  Believe it or not, words have power.  What you say influences people around you.  Let's make sure that what we say benefits those who listen.
2) Pray for our nation and our communities every day.  "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:1-4).  I know of a few of our partners who have put "prayer for our nation" on their calendar every day.  That's a great idea!  
So join me in praying for our nation and our nation's current and future leaders. Join me in following Jesus more closely so that wounds will be healed, families will grow stronger and our communities will see what real peace, love and hope looks like.
3) Keep everything in perspective.  Jesus said, "Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:27)  The answer is?  Nope.  I can't.  If anything, I actually subtract hours from my life when I worry.  You do too.  So don't worry.  Instead, keep everything in perspective.
At the end of the day, sinful candidates were voted into office by sinful people like you and me. We may not agree with the outcome, but personally, I thank God for an opportunity to vote. There are billions of people around the globe who would love to get the chance to do what we did on November 8.  Lest we forget, regardless of who the president is, all of us answer to Jesus. He is the real King. He is the One to whom I prayed that His will be done in this election. He is the One that I trust, not Trump or any of the other elected officials. People will always let us down at one time or another. Jesus never will.
As I wrote in my blog a couple of weeks ago, "Remember, the greatest good for all people occurred when Jesus died at the hands of a pagan governor named Pontius Pilate. Through Jesus' death and resurrection our sins are forgiven and our eternal home in heaven is guaranteed by faith, no matter who is in charge as governor or emperor or even president. If our all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God could pull that off, then He can handle bringing good for His people from this election as well." (…/…/decisionsdecisions.html)  Jesus is still the only Savior of this world.  Keep that in perspective.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on how we can contribute to healing our nation.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The 300… (Better than the movie)

Picture Thanks to Deviant Art
Have you ever felt the need to pad your prayers? Ever feel there are things you just couldn’t ask God because of their unlikelihood? Today I read a Bible story that reminds us that our God is more powerful than we can think or imagine.

The Lord can do a whole lot with even a very little.

In Judges 7 we find the nation of Israel dealing with an aggressive foe, the Midianites. Israel had their crops destroyed, their cities raided and were left to flee to caves for safety. Then the Lord calls Gideon to rescue his people. Gideon amasses an impressive army of 32,000 soldiers. To this the Lord says, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’” So, those who were afraid could go home and 10,000 are left.

Still the Lord says, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there.” Depending on how the soldiers drank water from the river, some could stay, the majority could go home. Finally, there were only 300 left!!! The Lord brought them from a fighting force of 32,000 to only 300…  The size of their initial force demonstrates the size and power and fear Israel had for the Midianites. But can you guess who won? The 300.

Throughout the Bible the Lord is in the habit of doing amazing things in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Just look at the focal point of the Bible – a humble Jesus dying in our place to give us freedom from sin, death, and the devil. Talk to the Lord always and especially highlight and ask for things that seem impossible. Our Lord makes the impossible routine.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I'm not going to tell you for whom to vote in this year's presidential election.  But I am going to offer some biblical advice on decision making so that you can be at peace with the decision you make when you vote on November 8.

In the conversations I've had, many are struggling with their decision because there are questions surrounding the integrity of both candidates.  Which brings up a great question: When I don't know what to do, how do I make the best decision?

Here are a few principles of decision making I've learned from God's Word over the years.

Principle #1 - Pray about it.  This is what God says about prayer and decision making, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God..." (James 1:5).  Great advice because God is all-knowing and all-powerful.  If we don't know what to do, God always knows what to do.  So we need to listen to Him when faced with difficult decisions.  At times, He makes clear what He wants us to do as we read the Bible.  If we don't know where to look in the Bible, ask a trusted Christian friend or pastor.  The Psalm-writer put it this way, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105).  At other times, He reveals what He wants us to do through the advice of godly friends.  "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm" (Proverbs 13:20).  So when we pray, look for God's answers for wisdom and guidance in His Word and through the advice of His people.  Not only that, but when we pray for guidance, let's ask God to keep us focused on His will that all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

That brings up another very important point.

Principle #2 - Be informed.  That involves listening.  Often times, when it comes to politics, emotions run high and people don't want to listen to each other.  That's a big mistake.  Again, God offers great advice, "Be quick to listen; slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19).  When faced with a decision regarding candidates, it's wise to be informed and to know where they stand on the important issues.  A good resource to find out where the candidates stand on the issues is this link:

One of the big issues when it seems that you can't trust the candidates who may become president is to look at who they have as their supporting cast.  What kind of people will they surround themselves with?  This question was addressed well by one of my buddies who is a pastor on the West Coast.  This is what he had to say recently, "As I watch what’s unfolding in the presidential race, I can’t help but think that if I struggle with the morality and speech and lives and lies from both candidates (surprise, surprise, right?!) that I should spend some more time looking at the supporting cast they have chosen, or that they are looking to choose for help and guidance, and to influence our great nation along the way. I think back to the VP debate and saw a major difference between supporting cast members. But one of the most important questions to me in the last debate was the one about appointing a new Supreme Court Justice. I won’t feed you my thoughts directly, just ask you to look back on the answers from both candidates. I believe my Christian friends will receive some help from that question alone in your decision this November.  Practically speaking, “water seeks its own level,” and you can tell a lot about someone by the people they surround themselves with. Examine not just Hillary and Donald, examine their current surroundings and who they are looking at bringing to the national stage (VP, SCOTUS, etc.)"  (Pastor Andy Schwartz).

Principle #3 - Trust the Lord above all.  "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6).  No matter who becomes president, as Christians we are blessed to know that all of us answer to a higher power, God.  He simply asks us to trust Him with this election.  Trust Him with our decisions.  Trust Him with our prayers.  He will bring eternal good for Christians no matter who becomes president.  Remember, the greatest good for all people occurred when Jesus died at the hands of a pagan governor named Pontius Pilate.  Through Jesus' death and resurrection our sins are forgiven and our eternal home in heaven is guaranteed by faith, no matter who is in charge as governor or emperor or even president.  If our all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God could pull that off, then He can handle bringing good for His people from this election as well.

Peace to all of you in the name of Jesus,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Just ask... Prayer Pointers

I've noticed phrases like these pop up in action flicks pretty regularly. The hero usually tries with all their might 3-4 different strategies and nothing seems to work. Then someone in the group says with a defeated sigh, "There's nothing more we can do. All we can do now is pray." From my perspective this is more than a little up-side-down and backwards.

Why do we have such a hard time coming to God in prayer first? Surveys will tell you these are the reasons:

Don’t have time.                        Doubt if it does any good.
Not important, no great needs.   Satan is opposing it.
Don’t know how to pray.            Trying to avoid God.

I have therapist to talk to.           Don’t care enough for others

Perhaps some of these have prevented you from going to God first with an issue. Instead of dwelling on sins Jesus paid for let's remember the privilege and value that prayer really is. Every Christian has the following promises from Jesus.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. -- John 15:7-8
 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. -- Luke 11: 9, 10
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  -- Mark 10:27
Prayer is an awesome blessing and powerful because it is talking to an awesome God. I encourage you to pray first and then take action on whatever you're facing today.

And at St. Mark we love to pray for people. If you would like to be on our prayer team or be prayed for please email us at:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Police Shootings and Violent Demonstrations... When Will It End?

"Several protesters and a dozen police officers were injured, and about five people were arrested after violent protests erupted after a deadly police shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday.
Officers in riot gear deployed tear gas into a crowd of protesters after individuals targeted police cruisers, ABC affiliate WSOC-TV Charlotte reported."  (
Some people I've talked to say that they don't even turn on the news anymore because they're sick of hearing about the next officer-involved shooting or ISIS scare.  That's their choice of course, but the fact is that we live in a violent and scary world and whether we tune into the news or not isn't going to change that.  
Perhaps the most poignant question I've received from someone recently is this one: when will it end?  Sadly, violence won't end until THE end.  This is what God has to say about the times in which we live, "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power" (2 Timothy 3:1-5).  That's the reason why we live in a violent and scary world.  
The distrust between police and people isn't because the police aren't doing their job.  It's because sinful people don't always make the right choices.  That was very true of some of the protestors in Charlotte.  Some of them didn't make the right choices when they began to throw rocks at police, destroy police property and loot.  Even though there will be times when those in authority over us don't always make the right choices, they are human after all, that doesn't mean we shouldn't love and respect them for who they are: "For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good" (Romans 13:4).  Police officers and the governing authorities are in our communities for our good.  Thank God for them.  Respect them by obeying the rules.  When you talk to them, thank them and encourage them to keep protecting our communities.  Pray for them, our community and all those who are hurting due to the recent violence in our nation.  
The good news is that even though people with a free will, yet not so free because sin influences their thoughts and choices, are responsible for violence, there will come a day when Jesus will call everyone to account.  "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
When will that happen?  I don't know.  Jesus put it this way, "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows" (Mark 13:32).  However, I do know that the violence will end because Jesus says so.  To a man who was crucified next to him, a man who was there because he had been violent and deserved what he had coming to him, Jesus said to that man when he confessed his sin, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."  (Luke 23:43).
That's Jesus' promise to all who believe in Him.  When will violence end?  When Jesus calls us home to heaven or when He returns in judgment, whichever happens first.  Either way Jesus will give us what He has promised, because only He saved us from the penalty of sin by giving His life on the cross and then taking it back again three days later (John 3:16).  Trust Him.  And until that day when we meet Him, keep living for Him by loving others.  "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:9-12).

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Your Money. Your Story. Your Life. This Changes Everything.

We all need a plan for our money. Financial Peace University (FPU) is that plan! It teaches God's ways of handling money. Through video teaching, class discussions and interactive small group activities, FPU presents biblical, practical steps to get from where you are to where you've dreamed you could be. This plan will show you how to get rid of debt, manage your money, spend and save wisely, and much more!
Here is a true story from someone who took the class in our area.
The journey began in February 2014. We enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course with over $76,000 in debt. This course taught us to learn to work together as a team. It was challenging but with a plan, discipline and dedication, we have arrived at this day where we feel at peace.
It took 13 months but with student loans, 2 vehicle loans, Invisalign, credit card debt and a wedding loan out the window, we can finally say WE’RE DEBT FREE!
Trust us, this works, it really works! #‎DaveRamsey ‪#‎FinancialPeaceUniversity
Join us this fall for the Dave Ramsey Class at St. Mark! And share it with a friend - you just might help change their life!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Operation Clean Start - Helping the Homeless in Green Bay

Meet Jordan McClellan, a single mother of three.  She’s gone from program to program, never getting far from the brink of homelessness.  “There have been many days where I just wanted to give up,” she says. “I felt nobody heard me, nobody cared.”  It began eight years ago when McClellan had two small children and was pregnant with her third. She lost her telemarketing job and was evicted from her apartment.  As many families do, she went to live with a parent, but that didn’t work out. So she moved into a homeless shelter for a year, then transitional housing where her rent was subsidized. When she got a job as a medical assistant, her subsidy went down.  “And literally, the month that my rent went up, I lost my job,” says McClellan. (

This account is not unique.  There are many who face the challenge of getting back to independent living right here in Green Bay.  That's why we are creating "Operation Clean Start" which will be an ongoing ministry of our Green Bay site.  Operation Clean Start will provide basic household supplies to newly housed persons who will be coming from shelters, half-way houses and returning to independent living.  We will be networking with Freedom House and the Brown County Jail system.  There is potential that we may be helping transition up to a dozen families and individuals per month.
The effort will provide basic cleaning products to assist with reentry to independent and productive living.  St. Mark will also provide a Bible and information for spiritual growth as well as a resource folder with places to go if they are in need beyond what St. Mark can assist.  Our goal is to help these individuals and families not only get a clean start in their new place, but also a clean start with God.  
We do this knowing that our greatest need is a clean heart before God.  "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).  A clean heart is only made possible through the forgiveness that Jesus earned.  It's because of Jesus that our yesterdays are cleaned, our todays can be new and our tomorrows can be steadfast.  That's why we want to share Jesus through Operation Clean Start.
Volunteer opportunities for this project include: 1) Helping coordinate this project; 2) Helping collect donated supplies each month; 3) Helping package the donated supplies into our Operation Clean Start kit; 4) Distributing the kits to those in need each month; 5) Becoming a prayer partner for those seeking God while seeking to regain independent living.
Do you want to learn more about this opportunity to make a difference in someone's life?  Are you sensing the Lord's calling to get involved?  Attend our next Outreach Team meeting at our Green Bay site on Monday, August 29 at 6:30pm.  Our Green Bay site is located two blocks north of Lambeau on Oneida St. (1167 Kenwood, Green Bay).
Got questions?  Contact Pastor Chris at

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Is it better to view pornography, if it makes you more likely to resist premarital sex? -- Guest Blog from Summer Vicar David Spaude

At a recent small group Bible study I got into a rather timely discussion. The group consisted of young people and so it was really no surprise when this discussion arose. This discussion took the direction of sex, pornography, and lust. The question came up, “Is it better to view pornography, if it makes you more likely to resist premarital sex?”

I had to do some extra research to better grasp the question and form an answer. What we need to remember with these two sins is that both are manifestations of lust of the flesh. Lust of the flesh or desire of the flesh is sinful because it “comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16). However, this doesn’t answer the question. It’s a question of comparison. So which is better? Or more accurate yet, which is worse? Viewing porn or having premarital sex?

When Pilate was deciding Jesus’ judgement before the Jews Jesus told him that the one who handed him over to Pilate committed the greater sin (John 19:11). Scripture doesn’t explicitly tell us to whom Jesus was referring, but it was either to the High Priest Caiaphas, the Jews, or Judas. We know that Caiaphas, the Jews, and Judas played crucial parts in handing Jesus over to Pilate and should have known better. Pilate, on the other hand, didn’t know Jesus was the Son of God, but still sinned in handing Jesus over to crucifixion.  So Jesus calls the sin of Caiaphas, the Jews, or Judas a "greater sin" than Pilate’s sin. 

Scripture speaks of deliberate sins (Luke 12:47-48, Numbers 15:29-30). In doctrinal terms, these are also known as voluntary sins. The danger with voluntary sins is that they can result in a person losing faith in Jesus and falling from grace (Romans 8:12,13), which leads to eternal death in hell. It’s a deliberate sin like the sin of Caiaphas, the Jews, or Judas that can lead to a fall from grace, ultimately hell.

Back to the original question, which is the worse sin? Viewing porn or having premarital sex? If they are done deliberately, they are equally destructive because they can lead to a fall from grace and ultimately hell. 

Sexual temptations are all around today and are especially pressing for young people. It’s a daily struggle to fight these temptations as it is with all temptation (Romans 7:15-25). But it’s in Christ that we find forgiveness, comfort, and strength to fight lust in any form it may take. Paul put it this way in Romans 7, “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vv 24b-25).

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Encouragement Along The Path To Pastoral Ministry - Guest blog by Vicar David Spaude

“I want to be a pastor like my Dad.” As a child, these were the words I spoke to myself and to others when they asked me my future plans. It was an ignorant response because I had a minimal idea of what it took to become a pastor. I knew there was college and Seminary to complete and that’s about it. My opinion might have changed had I known the type of training a WELS pastoral candidate needed before stepping into that preaching and teaching role full-time. 

All I knew was I wanted to be like my Dad sharing God’s Word week after week.  Finally, when my eldest brother, Paul, enrolled at Martin Luther College (MLC) I started to understand what that type of study really looked like.  I had known the time frame for becoming a pastor was long, but what I didn’t know was how long it could be.  Paul told me some of his friends attended high schools which have an emphasis on ministry. WELS has two preparatory high schools including Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, MI and Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, WI. Add this training to college and Seminary and you have 12 years of ministry training under your belt. It is certainly a long road to the pastoral ministry, if you start in high school. Yet, those are extra valuable years of Christian education from which to benefit.

Paul shared with me his class schedule which included the basics – English, Math, Science, etc. What was really interesting were the Greek and Hebrew classes he had scheduled, too. Not only his foreign language study, but also the education that he would continue at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary after graduating from Martin Luther College interested me. There he would study four different types of theology – Biblical, Historical, Systematic, and Practical theology.

Maybe you’re a young man who’s aspiring to become a pastor or you know a young man who has the gifts to become a pastor; however, the time and intellectual dedication seem a little daunting. Be encouraged or encourage the young man by returning to the fact that sharing the gospel full-time is a privilege. Help them see the truth in your statement by encouraging them to go on mission trips, to shadow a pastor for a few days, or to get involved in leading the youth at church. Encourage them to try Martin Luther College for a year and see how they like it.

I’ve heard people say to young men that they should consider becoming a pastor because they have the gifts and there is a pressing need for pastors these days. Jesus words to his disciples will always stand true, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” If you compare the numbers of Seminary graduates from the Baby Boomer years to now, that number has decreased by about 50%. That means there is an even greater need for pastors these days. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Let our plea before our Lord be the same as that of the disciples, but let us not use the lack of pastors as a guilt trip to lead young men into the ministry. Rather, know there is a need for pastors and so encourage young men by showing them the great privilege it is to be in the ministry.

In my years at home, my years in college, and still today it is nice to hear that encouragement from my parents that the gospel ministry is a great privilege in which to spend your life. As a result of early encouragement I attended MLC to become a pastor. To be honest with you during my years at MLC I struggled on and off wondering if the ministry was for me. I was looking for experiences that would spark my interest a little more. I found some of those experiences in mini-mission trips and even a summer-long Christian Camp. Now that I’ve completed my first year at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary I’m having the chance to serve St. Mark as a summer vicar. These experiences have greatly encouraged me to enter the holy ministry full-time. I also encourage you to seek opportunities of ministry to see if it’s for you.

- Summer Vicar, David Spaude

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Guns Are Not the Real Issue

I have been doing a lot of reading the past few days regarding the tragic shooting at a gay bar in Orlando.  First of all, please join me in praying for the people who have been directly affected by this tragedy:

Lord Jesus, you promise that you are always at work in all things for the good of those who love you, who have been called according to your purpose (Romans 8:28).  We ask, that as our all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving God that you work good from this awful tragedy.  Heal those who are hurting.  Bring hope to those who have lost a loved one.  Help your followers who are directly connected to those who are hurting to bring them comfort and hope through your power and promises.  We ask these things trusting your answers.  Amen.

It's no surprise to me that this shooting has brought a strong rhetoric from our government regarding gun control.  It has also brought a strong emotional response both toward the gay community as well as the Muslim community.  How do we, as Christians, respond to this?  The answer in short comes from Jesus' statement: Love God above all and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-38).

Guns aren't the real issue, neither is the homosexual community, nor radical Muslims.  The real issue is far deeper than a weapon, a way of life or a religion.  The real issue is sin.  And before we can go pointing fingers at anyone else we need to realize that the middle letter of the word sin is "I".  That's right.  I am part of the problem when it comes to evil and violence in this world.  I am a sinner because I haven't always loved God above all things and loved my neighbor as myself.  The same is true for you.

Gun control won't control the evil that lurks within each person.  Only God-control can do that.  Only God-control, called the work of the Holy Spirit, brings us to repentance, which results in a changed way of life.  I don't know about you, but I suspect what's true of me is true of you.  I need to repent every day.  I need to turn away from my sin and turn to Jesus every day.  I need to trust that Jesus took all my sin to the cross and the empty grave.  I am called to live differently in response to what He did.

And that's where Jesus' statement guides us in Matthew 22:37-38.  As a forgiven man, Jesus calls me to love God above all and to love my neighbor as myself as a way of saying "thank you" to Him.  Jesus is the only One who can bring about a change in ME that will bring about a change in WE.  In other words, the only way that I can change relationships gone wrong is to change what's going on inside of me.  The only way that I can change what's going on inside of me is to put my faith in Jesus, who instead of slaughtering His enemies, died for them, and you, and me.

Change in ME will bring about change in WE.  Do you want to bring an end to the senseless violence we are witnessing in this world?  It begins with you and me.  It begins by praying for those who are living differently than God's will.  It begins by respecting those with different views and life styles and yet calling out sinful behavior and attitudes when we see it (beginning with ourselves).  It begins by loving our neighbors through kind words and helpful actions.  It begins by having hard conversations (including religion and politics) and letting Jesus guide our words.  It begins by pointing people to Jesus' love and forgiveness every chance we get.

An excellent article from an ex-Muslim turned Christian  in response to the shooting in Orlando can be found by clicking this link:  

God bless us all as we seek to bring His healing love to our broken world.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Did God Die?

You heard in Sunday school that Jesus died for your sins, but did you ever hear that God died for them? It’s something I certainly didn’t hear and I’d venture to guess neither did you. Can the one who is eternal and sent his only Son so that people may believe in him for eternal life die? It doesn’t sit well with our human logic so many of us would think that God can’t die; however, here are some reasons why we simply need to agree that He did.

  • Passages in Scripture testify that God died; Acts 20:28 (“the church of God, which he bought with his own blood”) and 1 Corinthians 2:8 (they crucified “the Lord of glory”).
  • The human and divine natures of Christ cannot be separated. They are “personally united” (Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VIII, par. 1). There is only one Christ who is both the Son of God and the Son of man (Lk 1:31-35). “Jesus is true God. Therefore, in Christ, God died” (Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Professor Joel Otto).
  • The incarnation allows it. Through the incarnation God became man. Therefore, Jesus is both God and man. Since Jesus died, we can say God did, too. (Joel Otto)

“God died for your sins.” 

Perhaps you and I didn’t hear it in Sunday school since it doesn’t make sense to our logic. How can an eternal God die? Yet, just as the Bible teaches the concept of the trinity, so also the Bible teaches that God died for our sins. It is a concept we need to believe even if it doesn’t make sense to us because it is what the Bible teaches. And what a comfort to know that the creator of the universe would die for you!

In Christ,
David Spaude


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Transgender Access to Bathrooms Isn't the Real Issue

Photo Courtesy:

It occurred to me that I blogged this topic about this time last year when Caitlyn Jenner had her big reveal.  If you're interested in hearing what I had to say in that blog, HERE it is.  I'm going to begin this blog with the caveat that I don't have all the answers.  Only One does and that's Jesus.  If you have a problem with that, then chances are you will not agree with anything else that I write in this blog.  However, I recommend that you keep on reading purely from the standpoint of understanding.  A wise man by the name of James was inspired to write, "Brothers, we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19).  Seek understanding before seeking to be understood.  That's a good mantra to live by regardless of the discussion you're having.  With that in mind let's seek understanding of this complex issue at the same time that we seek understanding from the only standard by which we judge everything and that is God's Word.  

Some people suffer from a condition called "gender dysphoria" which means that they "have an experimental mismatch between one's psychology and one's biology."  How many people are affected by this?  "The American Psychiatric Association estimates the number of transsexual adults to be as low as .005 to .014 percent of men and .002 to .003 percent of women." (

In Genesis 1:27 it says, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."  God created male and female.  He created these roles to be complementary, which means they complete each other.  That's the reason why in Genesis 2:18, God said, "It's not good for the man to be alone."  These complementary roles are needed for the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of society.  As it says in Genesis 1:31, "God saw all that he had made and it was very good."  God was perfectly satisfied with the way He had made male and female.  God did not make a mistake when He made you with the gender that you have.  In Psalm 139:14, the psalm writer was inspired to say, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."  

People with gender dysphoria struggle with being content with their sexual identity.  They feel like they are trapped in the opposite gender's body.  For some, it truly is a psychological disorder.  There is treatment for those who struggle with gender dysphoria.  God also gives us a wonderful promise when it comes to specific temptations.  He says that "God is faithful.  He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).  For others, their challenge with gender identity may be a sinful lifestyle choice.  When I express discontentment with who or how God has made me, then I am sinning against Him.  I am not trusting His loving plan and purpose for me and I am not praising Him for His works in me.

The real issue here isn't about granting access to transgender people for their bathroom of choice.  While some Christians are thinking that they should boycott Target and pull their kids from schools who may promote or allow transgender bathrooms, remember who is behind this transgender issue.  It's Satan.  Satan wants Christians to join the culture war and misrepresent Jesus.  Satan wants Christians to make bathrooms the issue, when in reality the real issue is that transgender people, just like you and me, are sinful and in need of a Savior.  

Based on Genesis 1 and Psalm 139, God has created us and wants us to be content with how He has made us.  Whether we struggle with the temptation to be discontent with our body weight or with our sexual identity, God has called us to praise Him in loving response to all that He has done for us.  Remember, Jesus came to seek and to save all people, even transgender people.  He shed His blood on the cross to pay for all sins of all people.  This includes those who struggle with their sexual identity.  God wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So, let's say Tony wants to become Tonya and walks into our church.  She looks like a he, but identifies as a she.  How do we react?  Do we immediately cast judgment without knowing her story?  Then we are a Pharisee, whom Jesus harshly condemned.  Do we ignore her?  Then we are not speaking the truth in love.  Do we allow ourselves to be drawn into a friendship with her?  I bet that's what Jesus would do.  Don't approach her as a problem to be fixed, but a person to be loved and saved.

Our culture preaches tolerance and love.  They say that it is unloving to discourage someone from doing whatever she wants.  If Tonya's attitude and actions are leading her away from Jesus, then the loving thing to do is to speak up in a loving way.  Remember, listen first, then speak.  Seek understanding before seeking to be understood.  Always approach the situation in prayer.  Talk to Jesus.  He knows the situation better than anyone.  Ask for wisdom and guidance.  He will answer your prayer.

What's at stake is where Tonya will spend eternity.  There's only one of two places: heaven or hell.  Jesus wants us to do all that we can so that when Tonya's life ends, she will be in heaven.  The real issue isn't access to a bathroom.  It's access to heaven.  That's what matters to Jesus.  After all, He gave His life on the cross and then took it back again three days later to make that possible.