Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Words for a Thursday

"Never, ever, ever stop pursuing an intimate relationship with God, your spouse and your children."

Josh McDowell

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Man Called Peter

In my opinion, Peter Marshall, the Scottish-born Presbyterian pastor, who in 1947 became chaplain of the US Senate, was one of the finest preachers of the 20th century.  See the book, "A Man Called Peter" for examples of his inspiring and thought-provoking style.  He also wrote many wonderful and heart-felt prayers.  The following is a prayer of confession that you might want to use in your devotions this week.

O Lord, I come to You out of my great need.  You have pledged in Your Word that whoever comes to You shall not be cast away.

Lord, I confess before you that I have had longings and nudgings from You which I did not translate into action.

I have made decisions without consulting You, then blamed You when things went wrong.

I have said that I trusted You, yet have not turned my affairs over to You.

I have often sought the easy way, have consistently drawn back from the road that is hard.

Forgive me for all the intentions that were born and somehow never lived.

These, Lord Jesus, are sins, grievous in Your sight, grievous even in mine.  And now I claim Your promise to change me.  Do for me what I cannot do for myself.  Lead me into a new tomorrow with a new spirit.  Cleanse my heart, create within me new attitudes and new ideas, as only You can create them.

For these good gifts, I thank You Lord.  Amen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Love Is...

Down through the ages, many people have tried to define "love."

"Love conquers all"  Virgil
"Love is the only gold"  Alfred Lord Tennyson
"Who loves believes the impossible"  Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"The first duty of love is to listen"  Paul Tillich
"Faults are thick where love is thin" An old English proverb
"Love is a great beautifier"  Louisa May Alcott

Then we we 1 Corinthians 13, what some Christians commonly call "the love chapter" of the Bible.  Since love seems to be indefinable, the Apostle Paul describes how love manifests itself.  When directed toward others - spouse, children, family, friends and strangers, love is forgiving and self-giving.  No doubt, as Paul was describing the fruits of love, he surely had Christ Jesus in mind.  Through faith in Jesus, you have been "caught up" in the love of Christ.  Read 1 Corinthians 13 today and then look for those with whom you can share Jesus' love this week!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

The fellow looked me in the eye and said, "George, it's obvious that you can talk the talk.  But can you walk the walk?"  In the Gospel lesson for this Sunday, we discover a couple of boys who had trouble with the concept.  Maybe you do as well.  Join us for worship and learn more.  Services are at 8 am and 10:45 am.  Christian LIFE Hour at 9:20 am.  Hope to see you this Sunday at Life in Christ!

The Difference Between Darkness and Light

Darkness is not knowing God and, even worse, not realizing that you are living for Satan.  Darkness is confusion over goodness and evil; it is not really understanding that true goodness can only be inspired by God's grace.  Darkness is looking at death with a big question mark or, more honestly, in complete fear.  Light is the opposite.  A person who stands in the light of Jesus and His revelation of God the Father knows God, flees the devil, loves good, hates evil.  He know that he can face death, for in Christ he has already died and risen again, and that his death is but a continuation of the life he now has but far greater.

from "Gospel Motivation" by Robert J. Koester, Northwestern Publishing House, page 113.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I love Board Meetings!

Not many pastors are willing to make that statement.  But it is such a pleasure to work with our Board of Ministry Directors that I look forward to our monthly meetings.  We are blessed with an outstanding leader in Dan, our chairman and he, in turn, is blessed to work with a group of committed and faithful men and women who want to serve the Lord and His church.  Praise the Lord for the joy of working with folks who aren't pursuing their own agendas and instead want to do what's best for the Lord's church!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Luther Says!

"I will give myself as a part of Christ to my neighbor as Christ gave Himself for me."

From "On the Freedom of the Common Man."

To whom can you show the love of Jesus Christ today?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do it all for the glory of God!

The pastor arrived for the 7 am Men's Breakfast Bible study a few minutes late.  The guys gathered around the table at the local Denny's Restaurant sipped their coffee and carried on their conversation while only briefly acknowledging their pastor.  But one fellow looked the pastor over carefully.  He noticed the bags under the pastor's eyes and the look of exhaustion on his face.  He asked, "Hey, are you alright?"  The pastor shook his head and said, "We'll talk later."

After the Bible study broke up, the pastor and fellow found a corner booth.  The pastor said, "I shouldn't be talking to you but since you asked..."  For the next half hour the pastor explained that he hadn't slept more than a couple of hours each night.  Some concerns for the flock he was shepherding was causing sleepless nights.  Finances were not covering the budget.  Petty disputes threatened to tear the church council apart.  The "grapevine" was filled with gossip and half-truths.  The pastor was doing his best to apply God's Word and instruction to each situation.  But disobedient church members weren't showing much growth in the way of repentance and faith in God their Savior.

We don't know whether the church at Corinth was causing sleepless nights for the apostle Paul.  But we do know that many in the church were immature in the faith and said and did many nonspiritual things.  Because of Paul's concern for this particular park of God's flock, chapters seven through twelve of 1st Corinthians contain needed instruction and guidance.  Paul writes pointedly; his desire is to bring about repentance and faith among the disobedient in Corinth.

Read these chapters this week.  Note that Paul addresses issues which seem to stand front and center in the church today.  Watch how Paul continually points to God's grace in Christ as the motivation for setting aside our own wisdom and desires and, instead, seeking to live each day as God's forgiven people, dearly loved in the Lord.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday is for Celebration!

Yes, we celebrated yesterday at Life in Christ...Evan's baptism into the kingdom of God...14 more members becoming a part of our church family...Jack and Helen's 70th wedding anniversary.  O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Wonderful Collect for the Week

Grant that I, Lord, may not be anxious about earthly things, but love things heavenly; and even now, while I am placed among things that are passing away, hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

from "The Divine Hours - Prayers for Summertime" by Phyllis Tickle, page 564.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

God's Approval Rating

Did you know that God now has an approval rating? That's right! Pollsters now rate God's performance just like they do the President or Governor or any other public servant.  Does that make sense? Can a person rate God's performance.  Come and learn the answer this Sunday at Life in Christ.  Worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am.  Bible class for every age begin at 9:20 am.  Come meet the nicest people in town!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cohabitation is not equal

I read a really informative article in the Sept. 2011 edition of "Christianity Today" that really reinforced something that I share with couples with whom I do premarital counseling - living together before marriage is hazardous to your marriage.

Glenn Stanton has written a book, "The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage."  Research has shown that there is a definite downside to couples living together before marriage.  Among the things I learned from the article is that, according to Stanton, "Marriage is actually a very pro-woman institution.  People don't fully realize what a raw deal for women cohabitation is.  Women tend to bring more goods to the relationship - more work, more effort in tending to the relationship - but they get less satisfaction in terms of relational commitment and security."

Those who live together first often say that they want to make sure they are compatible as a couple so that they can make a lasting commitment to each other.  But just the opposite occurs.  Stanton says, "Scientists find that cohabitation cuts down on commitment.  The message of living together is, 'I'd really only like to take a part of you.  And maybe some time later I'd like to take all of you'."

And then there was this shocking statement from Stanton: "Cohabiting men who go on to marry are significantly less committed to the marriage itself than men who don't cohabit."  Stanton goes on to add, "Again, that's not a preacher's line or a moralizer's line.  That's a scientific line."

Cohabitation doesn't at all sound like what God had in mind in Genesis 2:24-25: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and will become one flesh.  The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."  These words indicate something far different that what most couples do when the simply move in together. 

The truth is that relationships take time.  That's why a good, meaningful courtship leading up to marriage is still the best way.  A foundation is laid by both people upon which a loving relationship with real intimacy can be constructed.  It is a shame that our society and too many people who call themselves Christians have bought into the lie of the devil and settle for less in relationships that God wants for us all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jesus Saves!

For those of you who haven't heard this one yet...there must be one or two of you, right?

Jesus and Satan have an argument as to who is the better computer programmer.  Their argument goes on for a few hours until they agree to hold a contest with God as the judge.  They turn on their computers and begin.  They type furiously for several hours, lines of code streaming across their screens.  Seconds before the end of the competition, a bolt of lightening strikes, taking out the power.  Moments later, power is restored and God announces that the contest is over.

God asks Satan to show his work.  Satan becomes visibly upset and cries, "I have nothing! I lost it when all the power went out."  God says, "Very well, then, let us see if Jesus fared any better." 

Jesus enters a command and the screen comes to life in vivid display, the voices of an angelic choir pour forth from the speakers.  Satan is astonished.  He stutters, "But...but...but how? I lost everything yet Jesus' program is intact! How did He do it?"

God chuckled.  "It's easy...Jesus saves!"

Don't groan too loudly - you might disturb the others around you!

Still - it's true! Jesus saves! And because this message is true, you and I who believe have everything!

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.  Acts 4:12

Since we have been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him! Romans 5:9

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people, and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.  Romans 9:28

It's no joke, is it? JESUS SAVES!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Wonderful Day of Worship

One of our largest crowds of the year...the Word of God to comfort and assure us...the Lord's Supper to strengthen and encourage us...Nicole sang and Connie played to perfection...Pat, Dan and Jon gave us goose-bumps as they played...God's love and warmth was felt throughtout the congregation...Praise You, Jesus, for Your loving kindness and tender mercies!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sept. 11, 2001

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the day that America was attacked on its very own soil.  It was a day of amazement, anger and death.  Where does a Christian turn when fear and terror strikes.  Join us this Sunday at Life in Christ and find out.  Worship at 8 am and 10:45 am.  Christian LIFE hour for disciples of all ages begins at 9:20 am.  Join us!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Good Word from God's Word

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1 (NKJV)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Can Overcome

I would love to look at my troubles as thought I were in an airplane.  At 35 thousand feet, even the mighty Rocky Mountains don't look so tough...Alas, in my life, I am not flying over my troubles.  I bump into every one because I am not traveling though my life in a plane.  I'm walking next to my oxen and my covered wagon.  But here is God's promise to me (and to you): "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me" (Psalm 50:15).

Crossing the great American prairie was a lengthy ordeal, not a stroll.  Your life is a long haul, too, and God loves you so much that he allows hardships to toughen you for the trials of the journey.  But you will make it because your God is with you.  Call on Him.  Expect deliverance.  Honor Him when it comes.

Mark Jeske, "Time of Grace," page 266, published by Concordia Publishing House

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Child of God or child of Satan?

"If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit," Jesus declares (John 15:5).  When our Heavenly Gardener plants faith in our hearts, He expects that faith to blossom.  Indeed, it's the very nature of faith to do and with increasing frequency.  Jesus the vine didn't say, "I hope you bear fruit" or "You must bear fruit."  He simply said, "You will bear fruit" and even added the word muchHow can children of God still live like children of the devil? How can those who revel in Christ's love react in hate toward those around them? How can those who are made in God's unselfish image still measure thoughts, words and deeds with the tiny yardstick of personal selfishness?  (underline mine)  Though this side of heaven the best of our blossoms still exhibit sin's blight, they grow.  When James declares that "faith without works is dead," he's reminding us that "no roses means it's not a rose bush."  (James 2:26)

Richard E. Lauersdorf
"As Luther Taught the Word of Truth - Devotions on the Small Catechism"
pages 78-79

Monday, September 5, 2011

What a great weekend!

It started on Saturday by spending most of the day with a group of people who were going through our Basics Class in preparation for membership.  God continues to grow our church - PTL!  Sunday was a wonderful day of worship with strong attendance at both services and a number of visitors to boot! Today, my dear, sweet wife and I went to see "The Help," a superb movie.  If "The Help" doesn't capture some Academy Awards I'll call for a recount.  My kids tell me that the book is even better than the film.  Back to work tomorrow - hope your weekend went well too.

Kirk Gibson for President!

My baseball team is the St. Louis Cardinals.  And now, as they have done for the last four years, the Cardinals started out the year quickly but are now fading, this time to the Milwaukee Brewers.  But, as sportscasters like to say, "How about those Diamondbacks!"  The D-Backs do not have a locker room full of superstars and their payroll isn't even close to teams like the Yankees and Red Sox.  But I believe the manager, Kirk Gibson, has motivated this team to play hard and Gibson seems to always have the right players on the field or in the batter's box when they are needed.  So...go Diamondbacks!!

How to size up a person

In Matthew, chapter 15, Jesus said to a crowd: Listen and understand.  What goes into a man's mouth does not make him "unclean," but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him "unclean."

The Pharisees, Jesus' self-righteous enemies, considered a person unclean or unacceptable to God by failing to keep their regulations and traditions.  The Pharisees rule book far exceeded the commands of God.  For example, the Pharisees had very specific regulations about when and how a person should wash their hands.  But the people were expected to know and to keep every little rule.

The disciples didn't quite get what Jesus meant and asked him to explain His little parable.  Here's verses 16-20: Are you still so dull? Jesus asked them.  Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a mouth come from the heart and these make a man "unclean."  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what make a man "unclean;" but eating with unwashed hands does not make him "unclean."

Jesus does something very revealing here.  He described the defilement of a person in much different terms than the Pharisees.  The Lord teaches that defilement comes from an impure hearts.  What seperates a person from God is not what they eat but by their sinful and unrepentant ways.

So if you really want to know what a person is made of just listen to what they say and write.  Do their words defend or accuse? Do their words lift up or tear down.  Do their words frame a person's actions in the best and kindest way or is their goal to hurt and ruin a reputation.  Oh, we all need to repent for things we've said and done that failed to keep God's command.  Have mercy on us, O Lord! Still, if you really want to know what is in a person's heart, then do as Jesus advises - hear what comes out of their mouth.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm blessed!

And so are you according to Jesus.  Do these words of the Lord mean anything to you?

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:11-12

So when you suffer persecution, don't worry.  You are blessed.  Jesus says so.  Instead, take comfort in these words from the Apostle Paul: Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge my friends by leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," say the Lord.  On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:17-21

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Check out this video!!

Who is the most interesting man in the world?  If you missed it, go back to the home page and watch the video!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

NCIS is just around the corner!

Woo Hoo! Just learned from a friend that our favorite television program, "NCIS," starring Mark Harmon, will begin its ninth season on my birthday, September 20.  Chocolate cake and NCIS - now that's a birthday!!

Paid in Full?

Growing up, my Dad impressed upon me again and again to "pay your bills!" It feels good, doesn't it, when we pay off our debts? But in this Sunday's Epistle lesson, the apostle Paul informs us disciples of Jesus that there is one bill that we will never be able to mark, "Paid in full." What is it? Join us Sunday at Life in Christ and find out.  Worship takes place at 8 am and 10:45 am.  Hope to see you!