Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Seen on a church sign

Love someone not because he is a Christian, but because you are.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My wife a NASCAR racer?

While rummaging through the house the other day, I saw some pictures that reminded me when my dear, sweet wife went for a ride in an official NASCAR vehicle.

This happened over 10 years ago but it is something that we still talk about.  One Christmas I gave Sherri as a gift a ride along pass for the Richard Petty Driving Experience.  She had to wait eight months to redeem the pass but it turned out to be worth the wait.

Before Sherri could get in the car she had to fill out about 24 release of liability forms (or so it seemed).  Then she was fitted with a helmet and before you could say, "Gentlemen, start your engines," Sherri and her driver, a guy named Mike, roared out of the pit area, making speeds up to 145 miles per hour.  The kids and I loved it and at the end of four laps Sherri climbed out of the car weak-kneed and with a huge grin on her face.

As we drove back home after Sherri's great day at the track, it occured to me that, in a small way, her gift mirrored the great gift God has given to us.  Sherri received her gift on Christmas day.  For eight months she'd had that gift in her possession.  Finally, on a Monday in August, Sherri enjoyed the gift.

In the same way, all who trust Jesus as Savior from sin and death have new life right now.  John 3:36: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.  That is God's sure and certain promise that no one can take away.  We will enjoy the gift in all its fullness when Jesus returns to gather His church on the Last Day.  But we hold the gift now.  The writer to the Hebrews wrote: For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

May we all rejoice in this precious gift of new life in Christ, whether we are working in our yard, laboring at our work, or flying around a race track at 145 mph!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Who Wants a Free Booklet?

My friends at "Time of Grace," the great television ministry seen in the Phoenix area every Sunday at 7 am on channel 10, have passed along to me a number of copies of Pastor Mark Jeske's new booklet, "Fathers and Mothers."  Raising a family these days is hard, challenging work.  Our broken economy puts lots of pressure on Moms and Dads trying to pay the bills and take care of their kids.  Pastor Jeske offers a number of tips and ideas on how Fathers and Mothers can love and support each other and, in turn, bless their children too.  The booklet will be available in the Narthex at church on Sunday.  Pick one up for yourself (if you're a parent) or for your children (if they are parents) or for a friend, family acquaintance, co-worker or neighbor.  I believe you'll find "Fathers and Mothers" to be a most helpful resource.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Most Interesting Man in the World

Everything He says...happens.

He walks on water.  By the way, He created the water.

He is fully God and fully man.  That's right, you heard me.

On Christmas, you celebrate His birthday but He gives the gifts.  Actually, He is the gift.  How do you top that?

He loved you enough not to fight for His own life.

His presence often strikes fear in people - must be the nail-scarred hands.

The President of the United States won't give you the time of day.  He'll give you all the time you want.

Thirsty, my friends?  Read John, chapter four to learn how to quench your thirst.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Is Jesus Really Serious?

If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  Does Jesus really mean this? Come and find out this Sunday.  Worship at Life in Christ takes place at 8 and 10:45 am with Bible class for adults and Sunday school, confirmation and High School classes at 9:20 am.  Join us!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Luther Says!

Imagine there was a doctor somewhere who understood the art of saving people from death or, even though they died, could restore them quickly to life so that they would afterward live forever.  Oh, how the world would pour in money like snow and rain.  No one could find access to him because of the throng of the rich! But here in Baptism there is freely brought to everyone's door such a treasure and medicine that it utterly destroys and preserves all people alive.

From the Large Catechism, part four - Baptism, paragraph 43

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Sign of the Cross

Finishing up my confirmation lesson for this Sunday.  We've started the year by studying the Sacrament of Holy Baptism - a good place to begin because for most of us Baptism is when we entered God's Kingdom.  Ordinary water and God's extraordinary Word came together to bring about a washing away of sins and our adoption into God's family.

In the baptismal liturgy we say to the one being baptized: "Receive the sign of the cross both upon your forehead and upon your heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified."  The sign of the cross is one way for a person to appreciate their Baptism, especially if they were baptized as an infant.  So I'm going to teach the kids how to do this.

Do you know how to make the sign of the cross? The left hand is laid flat against the body midway down the chest.  The right hand traces the sign by touching the forehead with the index and middle fingers...then moving down to touch the chest just above the left hand...then the right hand is raised to touch the right shoulder and then finishes by touching the left shoulder.  Some make the sign by concluding by touching the heart, the place where faith resides.

Lutheran worship is not a passive act.  We use our whole bodies to worship God on Sunday morning.  We stand; fold our hands to pray or extend our hands to others in extending God's peace; bow our heads in awe and respect; we use our voices to speak and sing.  Making the sign of the cross at appropriate times during worship is one more way we use our bodies during worship.  All these actions help us to express the faith that we believe and confess.  They give testimony to everyone else in worship of our love and devotion for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Good Prayer for a Monday

O God, You make me glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of Your Son my Lord: Give me this day such blessing through my worship of You, that the week to come may be spent in Your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Take Courage!

Acts 23:11(b) - "Take Courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."

Paul had every reason to be afraid.  He had spent the day before the Jewish high court.  Paul's bold testimony about the risen Jesus has filled the members of the court with hatred and rage.  It was this group that orchestrated the death of Jesus.  They have the power to do the same to Paul.  His life hangs in the balance.

While chained and under guard in the barracks, the Lord suddenly appears to Paul.  The apostle hears the words that the Lord utters to those who are afraid: "Take courage!"  Paul receives reassurance that his mission is not going to end in Jerusalem.  The Lord has another place where Paul will proclaim the good news of the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus - Rome, the seat of the world's power in that day.

The Lord's comforting words remind us of another time when the disciples were filled with fear.  Read Mark 6:45-52 sometime this week.  The disciples were out in a lake, caught in the middle of a violent storm.  It was all they could do to keep the boat afloat.  Exhausted from their struggle, the disciples were filled with fear as they saw what they thought was a ghost walking on the water.  Instead, it was the Lord that they saw.  "Take courage! It is I.  Don't be afraid."  And as the Lord climbed into the boat, the winds died down.  They relaxed.  The Lord was with them.

The Lord is with you each day.  He is present always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).  The next time you are afraid, remember the words God spoke to Joshua.  These words apply to you too.  "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jesus in the Gospel of Mark - Read all about it!

Our daily devotional, "Treasuring God's Word," will feature the Gospel of Mark beginning this coming Monday, August 22.  We'll spend about 8 weeks or so reading through what many scholars believe is the first Gospel written.  Mark doesn't linger very much - he moves quickly from one event in Jesus' life to the next.  If you don't have a daily devotional tool to use, I encourage you to give "Treasuring God's Word" a try.  Pick yours up this Sunday at worship or find it by going to the "Listen to God's Word" tab on the home page and scrolling down to "Treasuring God's Word."

Luther Says!

Let me tell you this, even though you know God's Word perfectly and are already a master in all things: you are daily in the devil's kingdom.  He ceases neither day nor night to sneak up on you and to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against these first three commandments and all the commandments.  Therefore, you must always have God's Word in your heart, upon your lips and in your eyes.  But where the heart is idle and the Word does not make a sound, the devil breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware.

Luther from the Large Catechism, Third Commandment, paragraph 100

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Modern People

The trouble is that, as modern people, we have too much to live with and too little to live for.

Os Guinness from "The Call"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fancy Dive

I wonder if you can relate to this poem, entitled "Fancy Dive," by author and illustrator, Shel Sivlerstein?

The fanciest dive that was ever done
was done by Melissa of Coconut Grove
She bounced on the board and flew in the air
with a twist of her head and a twirl of  her hair
quadruple gainered and reached for the sun
and then somersaulted nine times and a quarter
And looked down and saw
the pool had no water.

The Apsotle Paul was having one of those days in Corinth (see Acts 18 for the details).  He discovered that his hearers were not listening - they had closed their hearts and souls to the good news that Jesus was the promised Messiah.  Rather than continue to dive into a pool without water, so to speak, Paul turned the focus of His ministry to another people who were hungry for the truth.

Are you unsure about your next move? Seeking reassurance that the important decision you've recently made was the right one? The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision (Acts 18:9).  The Lord will speak to you in worship and as you daily read and reflect on His Word.  Give it a try and see if you don't receive the comfort and guidance that your Lord and Savior can offer.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stuart Townend's "The Journey"

Don't recognize the name? I think Stuart Townend is the best modern hymnwriter today.  He has written such wonderful songs and hymns like "How Deep the Father's Love For Us," "Salvation's Song," and "In Christ Alone."  His lyrics are filled with deep theological truths set to melodies that are instantly memorable.

Townend's new project is entitled, "The Journey."  The sound is refreshing and quite unlike most modern worship CD's found in the racks of Christian bookstores.  You'll hear fiddles, whistles, flutes, clarinets, accordians, dobros, banjos, guitars, percussion and brass instruments.  "The Journey" has a folksy, bluegrass feel and you get the sense that Townend and the other musicians had a blast making the music.

Townend's gift is writing beautiful and meaningful lyrics and his talent really shines on "The Journey."  "The Perfect Wisdom of God" exalts God's marvelous creation while pointing to His solution to our sin problem - the cross.  The refrain in "The Man Who Calmed the Sea" is simply glorious: But, no, death could not hold Him, The stone is rolled away! For He is the Master and the Maker, He's the Man Who Calmed the Sea."

I can't encourage you enough to buy a copy of the CD.  I'd be surprised if you didn't love it.  I bought my copy for less than 10 bucks at Crossroads of Life Bookstore, 59th Avenue and Peoria.  Or you can learn more about Stuart Townend at his website:

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I've been dealing with a desperate woman all week.  At least she seems so.  You can read about her in Matthew 15:21-28.  She's got trouble.  Her daughter needs healing.  What will Jesus do for her? Join us this Sunday to learn how Jesus deals with desperate people - like this woman and, maybe, like you.  Worship at Life in Christ takes place at 8 am and 10:45 am with SS and Bible class at 9:20 am.  See you then!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Could you use an Eight Ball?

When I was growing up I had a friend who had one of those big, black "Eight Balls."  Remember them? You could ask the Eight Ball questions like "Will I hit a home run in the Little League game?" or "Will my parents ever increase my allowance?" and then turn the big, black ball over and wait for the answer.  We kids never put much stock in the answers we'd get.  But it was kind of fun to mess around with it.

You wouldn't have found an "Eight Ball" in the apostle Paul's traveling bag.  He traveled by faith, trusting in God's presence and power to help him finish the race and complete the task given him by Jesus - "the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace."  (Acts 20:24)

There are times when a reliable "Eight Ball" could be helpful, wouldn't it? Being able to know about our health or finances or how our kids and grandkids are doing would seem to be a benefit for us.  But there is nothing in this life - no person or thing - that can tell us the future with any certainty.

How shall we then live? Paul offers a fine example for us.  He explained to the Ephesians Christians that he did not know what would happen to him as he traveled from place to place.  But he believed that the Holy Spirit would direct and help him.  He learned that he could trust God no matter where he might travel or what he might face.

We can do the same.  God has given us faith to trust in Him for forgiveness, new life and salvation.  We have God's promise that He will provide us with daily bread and help us meet our needs.  The Scriptures assure us that God is faithful.  His Word is certain and true.  God bless you as you follow Him day by day!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Treasuring God's Word

Do you have a daily devotional? Do you follow a Bible reading guide? Or are you looking for something that might help with developing the habit of daily Bible study and prayer.  Each week I write a little devotional called Treasuring God's Word.  It provides a Scripture reading for each day of the week and an idea to get your prayer time started.  You can find this devotional resource by clicking on the LISTEN to God's Word tab on the home page.  Then look for Treasuring God's Word.  This week's has been posted and ready for your use.  If you're not in the habit of reading the Bible every day, then try Treasuring God's Word.  Check it out!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What A Great First Week Back!

A red carpet welcome from Connie and answer to prayer in the form of an invitation to our church to participate in a District sponsored Stewardship opportunity to reach a young woman in need of a ride with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ...a sermon written (I still remember how to do it - I think)...reconnecting with our outstanding Planning Team as they continue to work toward helping our church sharpen its mission and vision for ministry...recording four new radio programs for the rest of of all, talking to or seeing many members of the flock here at Life in Christ.  "We're so glad your back!" sounded like sweet music to my ears.  I can't wait for Sunday - I hope you'll be here to worship our gracious and merciful God!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Chewing on this week's sermon text...Matthew 14:22-33.  Three times in 11 verses Matthew describes the action in this way: Immediately, Jesus made the disciples...Jesus immediately said to them...Immediately Jesus reached out his hand....  Immediately is not a word that Matthew uses a lot throughout his Gospel.  What can we learn about the immediate action Jesus takes with His disciples and, especially, Peter.  Join us at Life in Christ this Sunday at 8 am and 10:45 am for worship (SS and Bible class at 9:20 am).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Stuff to do on the last day of renewal

Give thanks to God for providing a time of renewal and also providing the means to be able to do so.
Wash the car.
Give thanks to God for a loving and supportive congregation.
Shine the shoes
Give thanks to God for Connie and Mary, Pastors Pope and Darling, and many church officers and volunteers who carried on with the mission and ministry of our church during the renewal.
Get haircut.
Give thanks to God for renewed energy to worship, pray, study and serve.
Keep working with Sherri on our trip presentation to the congregration on Aug. 13.

Can't wait to get back to work tomorrow!