Monday, April 30, 2012

To Touch and Be Touched (revisted)

I have tasted You, and I hunger and thirst for You.
You have touched me, and I ardently desire Your peace.

Augustine of Hippo, 354-430

Friday, April 27, 2012

A word to parents

As parents and grandparents we should never underestimate the influence we have upon our children and grandchildren.  They watch us carefully.  Our words soak deeply into their heads and hearts.  Studies indicate that even our teens watch and listen to us, yes, even when it seems that they have tuned us out.  Our example matters!

I don't know who penned the poetry below but the message is one worth pondering:

To hear my child at prayer, what a thrill it is to me!
There's a sweetness in the moment, as he speaks on bended knee.
And yet my heart is smitten, at this touching moment I see,
Has his faith and trust in prayer, depended much on me?

As I see him fold his hands, and bow his head to pray,
I trust he'll always love the Lord, the way he does today.
Then I hear a voice within me, speak in solemn words and true,
How he lives a life of prayer, depends a lot on you.

So I kneel next to my bed, and lay my hand upon him,
After he has voiced his prayer, I add my own petition
May my son recall one day, that his father daily raised,
His voice to thank the Lord, and make the sacrifice of praise!

Dads and Moms, do you think much about the example you are setting for your kids? Do they see you in prayer? Do they find you reading your Bible? The next time you are tempted to "veg out" in from of the TV, try something different.  Gather the kids together and tell stories.  Talk about a favorite family vacation.  Share the funny story you heard.  Read Bible stories to your kids.  Tell them what Jesus means to you.  Share your faith in God and encourage your kids in their walk of faith.  Most of all, ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit and His love so that you might always be that Godly example that your kids and grandkids need to see.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Luther Says!

Therefore our concern now must be to be grateful to the Father of all mercy and consolation and see to it that our faith henceforth does not consist in words but in power.  For St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, "The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power."  Our ability to speak or write eloquently about it is not sufficient; rather must our lives and our deeds testify to the truth, as we demonstrate our love and bestow our works of kindness on friend and foe.

Thus we must pray first of all that God may impart more and more strength to us and our friends and let His dear child Jesus grow in our hearts from day to day that we may praise, glorify and confess Him with a zealous and happy heart.

Martin Luther, from Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House, page 238

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Expect the Unexpected

When the unexpected happens
give the the grace to say
"Now what do you
have up Your sleeve
Let me face the new
with excitement
rather than tension
with interest
rather than dread
with irony and humor
rather than fear
with stimulation
rather than
feeling threatened
With the Apostle Paul
let me affirm
I can do all things
through Christ
who strengthens me
In the Name of
the Father
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit
     the Surpriser

From Don Deffner's great book, Prayers for People Under Pressure

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Locked away in prison

I've spent some time in prison.  I was there because I put myself there.  It was so stupid.  I couldn't sleep.  I was anxious and distressed.  My heart was restless.  My stomach was tied up in knots.  It was horrible.

I was being held captive in a prison of fear.  Afraid of an individual.  Afraid of the trouble the person might cause me.  Afraid of the hurt the person might cause others.  I didn't want to see the person.  Didn't want to have anything to do with the individual.  I would have been glad if they had just gone away.  But that wasn't going to happen.  And I was going to have to deal with this person.

God had mercy on me, His weak and silly child.  God sprung me from my prison cell.  The key that he used to unlock my cell door was His Holy Word.  I read the words: When I am afraid, I will trust in You.  In God, whose Word I praise, In God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4)

In these precious words the psalmist was reminding me that faith trumps fear! There was no reason to pull closed the cell door of my self-imposed prison.  God is greater than my fear.  He is more powerful and wise than any of my adversaries.  According to the psalmist, God had my back, so to speak.  I didn't have to be afraid of the troublemaker.  God was with me.  Praise His comforting Word! How grateful I was to my Lord and Savior for springing me from captivity.

The apostle Peter wrote: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.  Trust God.  He does care for you.  Tell Him about your adversaries and your problems.  And don't be afraid.  Walk before God in the light of life.  (Psalm 56:13)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Who Will Move the Big Rocks?

Easter is always a wonderful day, knowing that we join the whole Christian church on earth in shouting the great news, "He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!"

Our attitude is much different than that of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.  2000 years ago, on that first Easter Sunday, the three women walked to the tomb with heavy and sorrowful hearts.  Their Master, Jesus, had been put to death by a crazed mob.  They barely had enough time to anoint His body before they had to close the tomb and observe the Sabbath.  Now, as they made their way to finish an unfinished job, a horrible thought occurred.

"Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" The stone had been cut from the rock.  It sealed Jesus' resting place shut tight.  How would three weak, frightened women move such a heavy object?

We often wonder the same thing, don't we? Who will move the big rocks, the huge obstacles which often appear in our lives? How will we ever get the family finances in order? How will I ever get that important project done at work? How will we take care of ourselves in our retirement? Life seems to be full of the big stones of challenges and problems.

"But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away."  The women need not have worried.  God rolled the stone away.  Their help came from the Almighty One Himself.  That huge stone, pushed to the side like a tiny pebble, was the first sign that the miraculous had happened, that God had kept a promise, that Jesus is truly who He said He is - the Messiah, the Anointed One set apart to bring salvation to the world!

From the writer to the Hebrews comes these words: "The Lord is my helper.  I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" I pray that this Easter season reminds you that the God who rolled away the stone and rose from the dead can also help you deal with the big obstacles which you often face.  Call on Him in your time of need.  He is your divine helper.  Do this with confidence - HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! AMEN!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Heart and Conscience Has Room Only for God

On Feb. 16, 2012, the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the LCMS, was one of several witnesses to give testimony during the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's hearing: "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State.  Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?"  Pres. Harrison gave a powerful opening statement to the Committee, expressing our church body's opposition to the Jan. 20 US Health and Human Services ruling that required religious, non-profit organizations (such as the LCMS) cover contraceptives and abortifacients in their health-insurance plans.  Harrison's entire statement can be found in this month's The Lutheran Witness (  Quoted below is the final paragraph of Harrison's statement.

We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we won't give it up without a fight.   To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government.  The bed is too narrow, the blanket is too short.  We must obey God rather than men, and we will.  Please get the federal government, Mr. Chairman, out of our consciences.  Thank you.

I thank the Lord that we have such a wonderful theologian leading our beloved Synod.  God bless and be with Pres. Harrison.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jesus is the Answer!

Years ago, when I was in the radio broadcasting business, we used to play lots of music by singer, Andrae Crouch.  My favorite was "Jesus is the Answer."  On this Good Friday, Jesus is still the answer.  Come find out what the question is and much, much more.  Worship begins at 7 pm.  Join us tonight.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

On the Same Page

Throughout our study of Jonah, we've been able to come to one inescapable conclusion - God and Jonah were not on the same page.  How do we avoid the mistake Jonah made? Come to our Maundy Thursday service this evening and find out.  Our worship will include an invitation to the Lord's Table.  It all begin at 7 pm.  Join us, won't you?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

God Continues to Bless Our Church

            Last month I attended a Circuit Forum meeting of the pastors that make up our circuit in the Pacific Southwest District of the LCMS.  As we gathered in the Fellowship Hall at Shepherd of the Hills in Prescott, we took time to share with each other some of the exciting things happening at our congregations.

            When it was my turn I told my brother pastors how God has blessed the music ministry of our congregation.  I praise God for the growth we seen this year in our Adult choir and Bells.  We are blessed with great leadership from Lori Gray and Ginny McDuffee and the commitment from singers and players is to be praised.  Both the children’s choir and the Sunday school choir have earned kudos from the congregation.  I think folks would love to see the kids sing every week.  I know this grandfather would! And now we have our Worship Ensemble to bless us as well.  It is truly a multi-generational musical group! In just a short time they have really jelled and have added much to our worship.  And, of course, what would we do without Pat Herman and her endless fount of energy? She has given much to our music ministry and we are the better for it.

            I also shared about the many blessings Life in Christ has received from our deaf ministry.  It’s been a slow process and I really have to commend the leaders of that ministry for persevering during this entire process.  The joy and enthusiasm from our deaf worshippers and our signers is infectious.  Taking time at the end of Wednesday worship services to learn how to sign a phrase has been lots of fun.  I know you join me in thanking the Lord for opening this door of opportunity to the deaf community.

            We have been blessed with so much and, in turn, we have so much to share with our friends and community.  Please consider inviting someone to come to Easter worship with you.  We’ll have three services – 6:30, 8:30 and 10:30 am.  Easter breakfast will be served at 7:30 am and a puppet show and egg hunt begins at 9:30 am.  There will be a beehive of activity on our campus as we gather together to celebrate Jesus’ power and victory over death and the devil.  Don’t miss your opportunity to cry out, HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!