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Dear Congregational Family,

Martin Luther’s Birthday: February 18 was Luther’s birthday, so this is a good week to remember his written testimony of what he referred to as his “Tower Experience” which was a new birth (conversion) experience for him in that he finally understood that “salvation was by grace alone” which God freely gives through Jesus!

“Then I grasped that the righteousness of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy, God justifies us by faith! As it is written, ‘he who thru faith is righteous shall live.’ There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is revealed by the Gospel. It is the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself thru open gates.”

1. Black History Month: Few people today realize the immense amount of theological scholarship and spiritual leadership which came from North Africa during the time of the early church and throughout much of the first 1,000 years of Christianity. This came to a halt when the Muslims came to power and the churches were destroyed and almost all Christians who would not convert to Islam, were slaughtered by the sword. Among the most famous and influential of African Christians was Augustine. He was born in modern day Algeria (354 AD – 430 AD). We know him today as St. Augustine. He successfully guided the church through the process of refuting a number of heresies, especially Pelagianism which minimized the seriousness of the Fall into sin and the ensuing spiritual bondage of humanity and therefore the absolute need for the pure grace of God. It was the writings of Augustine which most shaped and influenced Luther’s theology. One can especially see this in Luther’s solid understanding of salvation by grace alone, through the gift of faith alone! Augustine is most known for his books, “Confessions” and “City of God.”

2. Is it right to evangelize non-Christians?: A recent survey by the Barna Group found that “47% of Millennials felt it was wrong to share their personal beliefs with those of a different faith (Muslim, Hindu, etc.) in hopes of converting them.” This finding has produced a significant amount of controversy in the Christian world and you may have read about it in Christianity Today, etc. It certainly should produce some conversations! In defense of the Millennial generation (born roughly between 1980-2000), I would applaud them for their caution in that they have seen the poor results of “evangelistic bombardment” without lifestyle witness and relational connection. They also feel the need to know more about other religions and to be more respectful of them, than has sometimes been done in the past. However, this also gives concern to the church in that we are increasingly experiencing the inroads of our culture into the church in that many Christians:

a. Are no longer certain that Jesus is truly “The Way, The Truth, and The Life” and that “no one comes to the Father but through Me [Jesus].”

b. Have bought into the philosophy of relativism and tolerance, in that whatever one believes and does is fine as long as they are “sincere” and that it is their own private matter and not to be questioned or conversed about.

· In our witness we need to be Convinced of the Certainty of the Gospel, and Compassionate in our outreach and Conversant with our family members and neighbors.

3. Love: As we continue in this month of “love” let me share a quote by Cary Nieuwhof who I have come to appreciate. “Without God’s intervention in the narrative of the human story, life would be nasty, brutish, and short. Instead of letting our humanity be the final word, God entered the mess in human form through Jesus and conquered hate with love.”

God bless you as we continue,

“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God”

Pastor Carlson

Dear Congregational Family,

Part II:

When I was unable to write the “Two on Tuesday” yesterday, because of several pressing matters, I thought to myself, “does anyone read these anyway??” (Actually there has seldom been a week when I have not heard from someone regarding the email.)

Today, in the midst of many things, I quickly wrote the one for this week, and did not look up Martin Luther’s life dates, but simply recalled them from memory, BUT had his death date switched with his birthdate! How embarrassing!!!

I thought I should offer a prize for whoever first discovered it!!! (At least I would find out who all is a faithful reader!)
Bryce McMinn wins the prize, as he spotted the error within seconds!!! Bryce – I owe you lunch next time we are together!!

With all humbleness!
God bless you,

Pastor Carlson

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