Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One reason for not doing away with the liturgy

Marva Dawn's book, "Reaching Out without Dumbing Down," offers a compelling study for why the church must continue to utilize the historic liturgy while allowing the freedom to add newer contemporary expressions of faith so long as they complement what has been passed down to today's church from previous generations.  I appreciate this quote from Jospeh D. Small and John P. Burgess: When various groups reshape the church's theology and worship according to their own viewpoints or purposes, the splinter the church's life...Without shared standards, the church has no common life of service and proclamation.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A wax nose?

Here's truth expressed in a clever way by Lutheran pastor/teacher, John Jeske:

When a person, or a church, gives up on the teaching that the Scripture is the inspired Word of God, then the Bible becomes a wax nose, which anyone may twist to suit his or her particular perference or prejudice.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Safe in the Boat

At the end of Mark, chapter 4, the disciples find themselves in the midst of a great storm.  They are afraid that they are gong to drown.  But they are actually very safe in the boat.  Why? Join us on Sunday and find out.  Worship at Life in Christ takes place at 8 am and 10:45 am with Sunday school for everyone at 9:15 am.  See you this Sunday at LICL!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pastors - Love Your Congregation

Bonhoeffer once wrote: A pastor should never complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people or to God.  A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God.

Wise words, indeed.  CFW Walther, the first president of the LCMS, said that a pastor should see his call to a Christian congregation as a call to paradise.

What to do when some in your congregation aren't very Christ-like?

Start by taking a look in a mirror? The pastor can start by asking himself, "Is there something I've done or failed to do to cause this person or people to behave in an ungodly way?" If so, repent and seek the Lord's forgiveness and restoration.

Secondly, communicate.  Speak to those who seem to be causing trouble.  Perhaps they are troubled but something you are unaware of and this trouble is impacting their life and how they treat others.

Thirdly, pray.  Ask the Lord for His help.  Seek His wisdom and strength.  And remember all the other times you went to the Lord with a problem and discovered that He already was at work in resolving the trouble - even before you asked Him.

May the Great Shepherd of the sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ, help all of us under-shepherds to love our flocks - His sheep and lambs!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What About Mistakes?

John H. Holiday, who was the founder and editor of The Indianapolis Star, stormed into the composing room of the newspaper one day.  He was mad...ticked off.  He had been reading the newspaper when he found a story where the word "height" had been spelled as "hight."  Holiday was determined to find the person who had made the mistake and really let them have it.  A copy editor checked the original copy of the story and discovered that it was Holiday himself who was responsible for the misspelling.  When he was told that he said, "Well, if that's the way I spelled it, then it has to be right!" For over 30 years The Indianapolis Star misspelled the word "height."

Holiday's actions sometimes mirror ours.  We find it difficult to admit our mistakes, don't we? At time, a three word sentence is the hardest for us to say: "I was wrong."  Rather than admit our guilt or acknowledge our missteps, we cover up, make excuses, or shift blame to someone else.  We'll often do anything but own up to a mistake.

Remember Cain? He became jealous because of his brother's offerings were received by God while his own were not. God gave Cain a chance to correct his mistake and do the right thing.  But Cain refused and his anger ultimately led to his act of murder against Abel.

Mistakes are inevitable.  We are not perfect people.  We sin daily.  So we have two choices.  We can behave like Holiday and fail to acknowledge our error or we can humble ourselves before Almighty God and, in repentance, tell Him, "I was wrong."  Like the psalmist David, you can say, "Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord' - and You forgave the guilt of my sin."  Don't let foolish pride get the best of you.  It is God's nature to forgive and restore.  Know that as you pray to the Father, "I was wrong," He is always ready to answer, "You are forgiven for the sake of My Son.  Go in peace."  Amen!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

How important are you to Jesus?

From tomorrow's sermon...

How are important are you to your Lord? Let me ask you, has anyone believed that you were important enough to help you pay your bills...come to your rescue in your time of need...be with you during a serious illness? We all know folks who care for us in such a great way.

Has anyone believed you were important enough to pay for all of your sins...to rescue you from the clutches of the devil...to heal you from the sickness of sin and give you eternal life? We know of only One who could and would do for us what we can't do for ourselves - Christ Jesus.  That's how important you are to Jesus.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Resting in the Hands of God

It was my first hospital visit.  I was nervous.  But the person I was calling on put me at ease.  She was resting in the hands of God and had no fear about her future.  God's Word was her encouragement.  God's Word can be your encouragement too.  Join us this Sunday at Life in Christ. Worship at 8 and 10:45 am.  Bible classes at 9:15 am.  Come and meet the nicest people in town! See you this Sunday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Listening to God speak in Psalm 80

I made one New Year's Resolution this year and I invited members of Life in Christ to join me in keeping this resolution.  It was this: each time I set down to read the Scriptures or begin to worship, I pray: "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening," the words that young Isaiah spoke to the Lord.

As I was reading Psalm 80, it seemed that the Lord really got my attention with verse 19: Restore us, O Lord God Almighty, make Your face shine upon us, that we might be saved.

Restore us, O Lord God Almighty...  To restore something is to return it to its former condition.  Israel prays that God Almighty will restore the nation and its land from the near total desolation of the land by the hands of their enemies.

Interestingly, this verb in the Hebrew language can also be translated, "to restore to life."  The consequence of sin is, as Paul writes to the Romans, "death."  (Romans 6:23).  When Jesus came to atone for our sins, His death and resurrection restored "life" to you and me. (Also Romans 6:23 - read the entire verse).

Make Your face shine upon us...  These words take us back to the Old Testament book of Numbers and the blessing that Moses gave to Aaron and, in turn, Aaron would give to the people of God.

We, too, cherish receiving the blessing and promise of God as it is usually spoken at the end of each worship service.  Through faith in Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection and being clothed in Jesus' righteousness, we are certain that God looks upon us with grace and loves us just as a father loves his child.

That we may be saved...  Asaph and all of Israel are looking for a king who will come and save them from their oppression.  The psalmist prays this petition three times, in part, because as he writes, there doesn't seem to be that leader in their midst and God's help is desperately needed.

God, in mercy, sent His Son to be our King (this is one part of Jesus' three fold office of being our Prophet, our Priest and our King).  Our King governs us, His church, in grace and will one day lead us into the kingdom of heaven.

How wonderful it is when God speaks to us through His Word, His promises of forgiveness, new life and salvation give joy and light to our lives.  Say it again, O Lord: Restore us, O Lord, God Almighty; make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Bible in 50 Words

My dear, sweet wife pulled this from the Grand Canyon University website today.  A pretty good summary indeed!

God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Joseph ruled
Jacob fooled
Bush talked
Moses balked
Pharaoh plagued
People walked
Sea divided
Tablets guided
Promise landed
Saul freaked
David peeked
Prophets warned
Jesus born
God walked
Love talked
Anger crucified
Hope died
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread

God remained.