Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My hero - Martin Luther - and me

Today is Reformation Day, the 495th Anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95th Theses to the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  One of the highlights of last year's European trip that my wife and I took was our visit to Wittenberg.  I'm standing next to the Luther statue; the building in the background is City Hall.  We were in Wittenberg for only a couple of days.  I wish we could have stayed longer.  It felt like home.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Marriage's Death Certificate

I came across these words while reading some Max Lucado yesterday and he is right on the money. 

When one or both people in a marriage stop trusting God to save it, they sign its death certificate.  They reject the very One who can help them.

As we Lutherans would say, "This is most certainly true."  When married couples ask to meet in my office to counsel and pray about their marriage, within the first few minutes I can usually tell whether there is hope or not.  It comes down to whether or not the couple are willing to let the Lord do His healing work and put His Word to work in their lives.  Sure, there are always problems, many of them serious, that cause a marriage to begin to come apart at the seams, so to speak.  Relationships generally do not fray over night but over time.  So, it only stands to reason, that mending the relationship will also take time.  But when a husband and wife are willing to trust God, listen to Him speak to them through His Word, put that Word to practice in their lives, practice repentance and reconciliation, and learn to love one another as the Lord has first loved them, the Lord can do a marvelous work.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Nothing.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Have you 'appreciated' your pastor?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month.  If you haven't "appreciated" your pastor yet, please do so.  Quickly.  Today.  Like right now.

Here's why:

Most pastors work really hard.  They often forgo doing things with family and friends so they can serve the flock.  Most folks aren't aware of this.

Because pastors work really hard, they tend to keep crazy schedules.  Most folks only see the pastor at work on Sunday.  The majority of people are simply not aware of what the pastor does during the week.  During the week is when the preparation for Sunday takes place.  During the week is when much of the ministry happens.  People get sick.  People are in crisis.  People die.  This is not an 8 to 5 job with Saturday and Sunday off.  Most pastors I know work 55-60 hours a week.  Throw in a funeral or wedding or Advent or Lenten services on top of everything else and the hours soar.  This is not a recipe for good mental, emotional or physical health.

Because pastors keep such crazy schedules, they often wear out.  Or burn out.  Most pastors I know really give themselves to the Lord and to their congregations.  The demands made on them are great and since most pastors don't want to let anyone down, they push and push and push some more.  The human body wasn't designed to keep up that pace forever.  What happens when a person has a tired mind and a tired body? Illness.  Depression.  Guilt.  Some pastors lose their effectiveness.  Others leave the ministry.  The congregation weeps.  The devil celebrates.

What can fill up a pastor's emotional gas tank? Knowing that he has the congregation's appreciation and support.  A few years ago I was going through a very difficult time.  As I sat at my desk going through some email, I opened one that said simply, "I've got your back."  I can't describe very well what that message meant to me.  For a moment my heavy heart felt as light as a feather.  The heavy burden I carried on my shoulders and into my office had been lifted. 

Even more filling is the Word of God.  The Lord's reassurance provides comfort and consolation for weary or wounded pastors:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame will not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God...  (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)

Ministry is hard.  What a blessing for a pastor to know that "God has your back!"  And what a blessing it is when the pastor knows that in spite of his weaknesses, the congregation still "has his back."

'Appreciate' your pastor today! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Birthplace of the Reformation

Wittenberg, Germany...Martin Luther is called in 1511 to serve a a professor of the Bible at the University of Wittenberg.  It is through his study of the Scriptures that he learns that righteousness before God is not something that is earned but is given as God's gift through faith in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This good news is imperiled by the selling of indulgences which promised forgiveness for sin.  On October 31, 1517, Luther posted the 95 Theses on the doors of the Castle Church (see above).  Sadly, while we were in Wittenberg last summer, the doors of the church were under repair so I was unable to get a good picture of the spot when Luther stood with Theses in one hand and hammer in the other.  I guess that means that I'll just have to make a return trip!

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Monday - I'm Pregnant!

I read this story in one of Jan Karon's "Mitford" books about the pastor who explained that delivering the Sunday sermon is kind of like giving birth to a baby.  Then, on Monday, you find out you're pregnant again! Well, I'll be delivering another sermon this Sunday as we celebrate the reformation of the church.  I might even mention Martin Luther once or twice (what a surprise!).  Come and join us if you're in our area.  Worship at 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE hour at 9:15 am.  Join us at Life in Christ this Sunday!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The best place in the world to be buried?

On Thursday nights I'm teaching a LifeLight Bible study on the topics of miracles.  I chose the study, in part, because the prof who most inspired me at Seminary, Glenn Nielsen, helped write the study.  As I was preparing for the first lecture I came across this great line:

I like the man who said he wanted to be buried in Jerusalem because as he put it, "Jerusalem has the highest resurrection rate of any city in the world!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stuart Townend gets it!

Townend, IMHO, is the finest writer of modern Christian and church music today.  His song, "In Christ Alone," already is a classic.  It is sung in all kinds of churches using all kinds of service formats.  The reason is simple: "In Christ Alone" has a singular focus - the Lord Jesus Christ.  The object of the song is clear: Christ crucified, risen, victorious.

In an interview, Townend said something which I think the church and especially those who plan worship must keep in mind: When all our songs are about how we feel and what we need, we're missing the point.  There is a wonderful, omnipotent God who deserves our highest praise, and how we feel about it is in many ways irrelevant.

I want to encourage the expression of joy, passion and adoration, but I want these things to be the by-product of focusing on God - I don't want them to become the subject matter.  I'm trying to write songs that refer to us as little as possible, and to Him as much as possible.

We Lutherans understand worship as something as God does for us and not about what we do for God.  What joy that should bring to the heart of a believer! Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, comes to meet us in our church to serve us.  He comes and brings a Word of forgiveness and hope...He washes us with a washing that cleanses us so that we can stand before our Father...He invites us to His table to provide us a meal that draws us as close as we can be to Jesus this side of heaven.

Townend is right - the subject and object of our worship can only be the Lord.  God alone can forgive sins.  God alone can give us the miracle of the new birth and new life.  God alone paves the way to eternity through the suffering, death and resurrection of our Savior.  If the personal pronoun "I" dominates all the songs you sing in church, be concerned.  As Townend says, if all the songs we sing are about how we feel and what we're going to do, we are missing the point.  Worship the Lord!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A new month of radio programs ready to go!

Tomorrow I head over to the radio station to record the November batch of programs.  They include:

11/5 - "No Mistakes on Judgment Day"  For the first month of the pro football season all anyone could talk about was the blown calls by the replacement refs.  Isn't it good to know that there will be no mistakes on Judgment Day?

11/12 - "Preach the Gospel...and use words!"  With apologies to St. Francis, we must use words when sharing the Gospel with others. 

11/19 - "Eyewitnesses - Usually the Best Witnesses"  A trip to the Musical Instruments Museum in Scottsdale, AZ, helped me to appreciate what we have in the Bible.

11/26 - "Thanks for Calling 'My Father's House'"  What a disaster it would be for us if God used voice mail in dealing with our prayers.

The program, "Wake Up With the Word," is heard each Monday morning at 8:25 am on 1280 am in the Phoenix area.  You can also check it out by looking in the left hand column on our home page.  Being an old radio man, recording these programs each month is a real joy!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A higher standard of living

Max Lucado tells the story of the man who had been a closet slob for most of his life.  He just couldn't comprehend the logic of neatness.  Why make up the bed if you're just going to sleep in it again? Why put the lid on the toothpaste if you're going to take if off again in the morning? The man admitted to being compulsive about being messy.

Then he got married.  His wife was patient.  She said she didn't mind his habits...if he didn't mind sleeping on the couch.  Since he did mind, he began to change.  He joked that he had enrolled in a 12-step program for slobs.  A physical therapist helped him rediscover the muscles used for hanging up shirts and placing toilet paper on the holder.  His nose was reintroduced to the smell of Pine-Sol.  By the time his in-laws arrived for a visit, he was a new man.

But then came the moment of truth.  His wife was sent out of town for a week.  At first he reverted to the old man.  He figured he could be a slob for six days and clean on the seventh.  But something strange happened.  He could no longer relax with dirty dishes in the sink or towels flung around the bathroom or clothes on the floor.

What had happened? Simple! He had been exposed to a higher standard of living.  That's what Jesus does too.

When we are exposed to the Gospel, Jesus changes us.  Something needs to be done with our "old man," our sinful nature.  So Jesus' Baptism cleans us up; His Word teaches us how to replace old habits with new purposes for living; His Supper gives us strength to live in love and forgiveness.  No longer are we satisfied to sleep in the unmade bed of bitterness and anger.  No longer are we willing to put our hands in the dirty sink of self-righteousness and pride.

Pick up your Bible this week and read of Jesus' sacrificial love and unlimited mercy for you.  Know that the Spirit is at work through the Gospel, changing attitudes and behaviors.  Who knows? You might find yourself picking up your clothes from the bathroom floor!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Great Bach and little old me

Last summer I had the opportunity to be away from Life in Christ to take a three month time of renewal, sponsored by the Lilly Foundation.  In July 2011 my wife and I traveled through Austria, Germany and England.  We were able to attend the Bach Festival in Leipzig and here I am standing next to the Bach statue outside the Thomaskirche.  Bach served there for over 20 years.  He is buried inside the church in the choir area.  We attended four concerts in three nights with the highlight being the St. Matthew Passion which was performed at the Nicholaskirche.  It was, without a doubt, the greatest and most wonderful music I have ever heard.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Rationalization Game

It could become as popular as "Jeopardy" or "Wheel of Fortune."  It's called "The Rationalization Game!" Come learn how easy it is to play.  Learn also why playing the game could be detrimental to your life in Christ.  This Sunday at LICL worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE Hour with Bible classes for all ages at 9:15 am.  Hope to see you this Sunday at Life in Christ!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rest in Jesus, Muriel

We said goodbye this morning to one of our members, Muriel, who was called to rest in Jesus last Sunday morning.  We sang "Just As I Am" and "Lift High the Cross."  One of our pastoral assistants, Pastor Haak comforted the family with the healing balm of the Gospel of Jesus.  We were reminded that the Lord keeps his promises including that which we confess in the Creed: ...the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting.

Although her family's eyes were filled with tears, their hearts were filled with hope.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Cor. 15:57)  Thanks be to the Lord for His blessings and benefits for you and me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Good theology from Johnny Cash

Once, when his daughter, Tara, asked if he ever had an imaginary friend, singer Johnny Cash responded like this: "Yes," he told her.  "Sometimes I am two people.  Johnny is the nice one.  Cash causes all the trouble.  They fight."  (from "The Man Named Cash" by Steve Turner, page 17)

Probably without knowing it, Cash was expressing good Lutheran theology, namely that we are Simul justus et peccator - Simultaneously justified and a sinner.

To be "justified" is to be declared "not guilty."  In God's courtroom, God declares you and me and all who believe "not guilty" for the sake of Jesus who died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin and to give us His righteousness which makes us clean and whole before God the Father. 

Still, we know that in this life we sin.  We think evil thoughts...say evil evil stuff.  Like David, we too can say: For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  (Psalm 51:3)

It seems like such a contradiction, right? If I'm a sinner, then how can I be a saint?

That's where the power of the Gospel comes in.

It is God's good news of forgiveness and salvation through faith in Christ that God justifies the sinner.  Christ makes us righteous.  Through repentance and faith, we are made new in Christ.  The Holy Spirit, working through the means of grace, gives us a new mind and heart, one that does the will of God because of Jesus. 

Still, we struggle.  We see that old, sinful nature rear its ugly head constantly.  As Johnny Cash said, "They fight."  That's why our baptism is so important.  At the baptismal font, we were buried with Christ in His death.  Our old Adam, our sinful nature must die.  Then, with Christ, we were raised to new life.  Now we are free to live - free to love God and to love our neighbor.  We don't have to work at or earn God's favor or blessing.  We have already been declared "not guilty."  We can now live the new life in Christ that we've received through the grace of God.

I understand this Simul justus et peccator stuff.  George is the nice one.  Spicer causes all the trouble.  Luther got it.  Johnny Cash got it too.

Let this be another day that you live in the new life you received at your baptism.  For the sake of Jesus, you are justified before God - "not guilty" of sin and freed from the sentence of eternal death.  Eternal life is yours - through Christ!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another gem from John Jeske

In the last year or so I've become acquainted with the writings of Pastor and Seminary Professor, John Jeske (he is the father of Pastor Mark Jeske of the "Time of Grace" television program).  Here is another gem from John Jeske's book, "Connecting Sinai to Calvary."

Because in our place our Substitute lived a life of perfect obedience to the holy law of God, God considers us to be people who have given Him the perfect obedience He demands.  Because in our place our Substitute died innocently under God's curse, God considers us to have been punished for our sin.  (page 67)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Making this field goal will be easy...Nope!

Such are the trials and travails of being a sports fan.  One minute your team sends your spirits soaring.  Then that same spirit crashes faster than the Hindenburg. 

The Arizona Cardinals did not play very well yesterday.  All the usual problems surfaced (porous offensive line, inconsistent quarterback play).  Still, the team fought back and when place kicker, Jay Feely, nailed a 61 yard field goal to tie the game, it was amazing.  Then the Cardinals got the ball back, worked down the field until Feely reentered the game with 3 seconds left.  This time a 32 yard field goal would win the game.  This would be easy, right? If Feely could make a 3 pointer from over sixty yards, a kick from half the distance would be a gimme.  I boasted, "Feely could probably make the game winner blind folded."

The 61 yard field goal was a thing of beauty, easily clearing the cross bar.  The shorter kick was as ugly as the huge pimple that decided to park itself between my eyes the day freshmen class picture were taken all those years ago.  Yes, I'm talking UGLY! Even my mother said of that picture, "That doesn't look so good."  Neither did Feely's kick.  It hooked toward the left upright, hit dead center and ricocheted back onto the field.  A few minutes, in overtime, Buffalo got the ball and their kicker didn't miss.  Cardinals lose 19-16. 

The victory seemed like such a sure thing.  And yet, the game reminded me that there are no sure things in life.  Promises get broken sometime.  Commitments are forgotten.  Field goal kickers miss game winners.

And yet, now that I think about it, there is one sure thing.  That is Jesus.

Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  That's comforting news.  Jesus is consistent.  He does not change.  He is completely dependable.  Promises always kept.  Commitments unfailingly carried out.

Not only is Jesus unchangeable, He is also almighty (Matt. 28:18); all-knowing (John 21:17); always present (Matt. 28:20).  He kept His commitment to be your Savior (Luke 22:42).  He promises to be with and help you in your time of need (Matt. 11:28-30). 

It's hard to put complete faith in place kickers.  But you can put your trust and hope in Jesus.  He has come through for you in the past (John 3:16-17).  He will come through for you all the way to the end of your life (Psalm 23:4) and see you through heavenly gates (Psalm 23:7).

God's best to you this week!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jesus and the rich young man

He demonstrated the right posture but asked the wrong question.  Maybe you've ask the same question of the Lord.  Learn how Jesus lovingly tries to teach the rich young man what he really needs in his life.  Worship at Life in Christ takes place at 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE Hour and Bible classes for all ages at 9:15 am.  Join us this week at Life in Christ!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Eyewitnesses...usually the best witnesses

A couple of months ago my friend, Dan, and I went over to the Musical Instruments Museum to see Lawrence Juber in concert.  If you are a fan of Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, then you know Juber's name.  He was the guitarist in the final Wings lineup before McCartney disbanded the group.  Juber often says that the time he spent with McCartney were some of the most fruitful of his career.  Juber likened it to a college education, attending "McCartney University."

Juber is a fantastic guitar player.  Even though his days of playing with McCartney are long since past, he is in great demand as a session guitarist and as a composer.  He has recorded many solo Cd's which spotlight his amazing skill on both acoustic and electric guitar.

I wanted to go to the concert because I had read a lot about Juber's talent.  I wasn't disappointed.  But I was interested in going for another reason.  I was hoping that I might receive some kind of insight about McCartney that I didn't already have.  After all, Juber stood shoulder to shoulder with the former Beatle on stage.  They spent countless hours in the recording studio working on songs.  Juber was an eyewitness to McCartney's genius.  If he told a story about recording a particular song or shared an insight to McCartney's personality, that would really mean something.  After all, Juber was an eyewitness.  He saw, spoke to and worked with Paul McCartney.  Juber would know what he was talking about.

It's that same kind of reasoning that enables us to put our confidence in the Bible.  The men whom the Holy Spirit directed to write about Jesus and the growth of the church were eyewitness to all that had happened.  Or in the case of Luke, much of his Gospel and also Acts, comes from those who were there and witnessed the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, the birth of the church and the growth of the early church.

Think about the eyewitness testimony regarding the resurrection.  The apostle John says he saw the resurrected Christ (John 21:24); the 11 apostles (Acts 1:3); Peter (Acts 10:39-41); hundreds of people (including the apostle Paul).

The resurrection is absolutely essential to the Christian faith.  Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 15:17: If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we, too, are dead.

Praise God that we never need to doubt the truth of the resurrection.  We have the word of those who saw and spoke with and ate with the resurrected Christ.  Our sins have been paid for.  We have been redeemed from sin, death and hell.  Satan cannot frighten us with His doubts and lies.  Jesus lives! The victory's won!

Be sure to go to church on Sunday for another weekly celebration of Easter.  Give thanks to Jesus that we are not still in our sins.  God has forgiven them and forgotten them (Hebrews 8:12).  Jesus is alive! We have the proof of many this case, the best witnesses.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

You Gotta Love Martin Luther!

While doing some reading for an earlier blog entry, I decided to see what Luther had written in the Large Catechism on the 8th Commandment.  I couldn't help but LOL! In his graphic and humorous way, Luther describes what gossip makes out of us.  Here's what he wrote:

People are called slanderers who are not content with knowing a thing, but go on to assume jurisdiction.  When they know about a slight offense committed by another person, they carry it into every corner.  They are delighted and tickled that they can stir up another's displeasure, just as swine delight to roll themselves in the dirt and root in it with the snout.

Keep that image in mind the next time you're tempted to speak poorly or derisively about another person!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Don't send that letter!

There used to be an old business axiom that whenever you write a letter during the heat of an angry moment, take the letter and put it in a desk drawer, wait 24 hours, then reread the letter.  More often than not, after having a chance to cool off, you would be more inclined to drop the letter in the garbage can or run it through the paper shredder than put it in the mail.

Too bad the late John Lennon didn't know that axiom.  I've read that a new book of Lennon's letter will soon be published.  Although Lennon could be quite humorous and very eloquent with the written word, it seems that many of the vicious and hurtful letter that he wrote to some within the Beatles family will be included in the collection.

Anyone familiar with Beatles lore is well aware of how nasty and mean-spirited their break-up was.  It seems that those still alive have been able to put behind them the drama of their acrimonious break-up and have been able to focus on their friendships, their love for music and the joy that their music gave to so many.

To release a such a book now seems to akin to picking off a scab from a wound.  What good can come from publishing these letters now?  Do we all want to be reminded again of how vicious and crude and insulting John Lennon could be when he was angry? That is not an aspect of his personality that we would ever celebrate.  I think such a book could tarnish Lennon's legacy.

Things written or said in the heat of anger are usually never helpful.  Luther, in his explanation to the 8th Commandment, wrote that we should defend our neighbor and speak well of him or her and put on everything done the best construction (or explain it in the kindest way).  In the Large Catechism, Luther began his teaching on the 8th Commandment by writing, "Over and above our own body, spouse, and temporal possessions, we still have another treasure - honor and good reputation."   To write or speak slanderous things or to speak outright lies against our neighbor can harm or ruin a person's reputation and good name.  God's Will for you and me is that we not harm anyone, friend or enemy.  What Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:12 is good for us all: So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Too bad John Lennon didn't make use of his desk drawer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Have you exercised your faith today?

John Kleinig, in his wonderful book, "Grace Upon Grace," talks about the fact that faith is an active, living thing.  He writes (on page 44), ...we exercise our faith continually, in our work and in our rest, in the Church and in the world, just as we exercise our eyes by seeing and our ears by hearing...

We exercise our faith by practicing our piety, whether it is going to church or by saying grace before meals, by meditating on God's Word or by praying, by examining ourselves in the light of God's Law or by confessing our sins, by fasting or by presenting our offerings to God...

We are not called to live as practical atheists, people who, theoretically, believe in God, and yet act as if God has nothing to do with their daily lives....

People schedule regular times of bodily exercise each day.  We want to keep our bodies fit.  Do you do the same for exercising faith? Kleinig would have us all put to use the gifts of God in our lives every day so that faith, which is the Lord's gift to us, would continue to keep on trusting in the Lord for forgiveness, for life and for everything.

Hope you find time today for a good workout!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Can you help a stressed out man?

I had all kinds of trouble getting through our 10:45 am service yesterday.  Forgot several things that were included in the order of worship.  Felt unsettled throughout the whole service.  It really bugged me for most of Sunday.

This morning it finally hit me - George, you were a stressed out man!

Last week I dealt with:

Several unhappy secretary's health situation (we've worked over six years together so it was hard to see her hurting)...lack of respect for the pastoral office...several difficult and emotional counseling sessions...three full days in which I worked 40 hours in those three days...trying to pull arrangements together for our soon to be new deacon's theological interview...finding a guest speaker for a upcoming men's event...witnessing an auto accident on the freeway (PTL, the driver was not hurt at all) dear, sweet wife's ongoing health issues (we've been married 40 years and I don't know what I'd do without her).

So it was no wonder that I was a little distracted yesterday.

What do I do this week to keep from getting stressed out?

For one - pray.  I realized this morning that as the stress seemed to build, I stopped praying.  Started relying more on myself.  Unfortunately, when stressed out, I'm pretty unreliable.

I use the devotional book, "The Divine Hours," because it helps me to pray the Psalms where I find such comfort and help.  So this week, it's back to praying the hours - evening, morning and noon, as the Psalmist wrote.

For another - exercise.  I was walking every day during lunch and I really enjoyed doing so.  I was walking because it was helping my back.  But I also think that it was a stress reliever.  I felt so rejuvenated that I had more energy for afternoon stuff.  So this week, I'm taking my t-shirt and shorts to work and digging out the tennis shoes from under my desk and I'm going to walk - don't care how hot it is!

For a third - diet.  When I get stressed, I eat.  Too much.  Way too much.  Then I gain weight.  Too much.  Way too much.  So this week I'm going to be counting points just like I did on Weight Watchers.  I just lost close to 20 pounds and I don't want to put it all back on - and more.

For a fourth - sleep.  When I'm stressed, I have difficulty sleeping.  I'm going to try and slow down the end of the day by reading, doing Compline, and entrusting all my cares to the Lord.  He is greater and smarter than I.  There is nothing too hard for the Lord to deal with.

We all deal with stressful situations and people, don't we? I pray that you deal with stress better than I did last week.  Cast all your cares on the Lord because He cares about you.  That's what I'm going to do.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Let's Go!

LCMS President, the Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison has a two word translation for St. Mark 16:15 - "Let's Go!" This Sunday I'll share a couple of stories of people who "got going" and ask how Life in Christ Lutheran can do the same.  Join us, won't you? Worship at 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE Hour at 9:15 am.  Come meet the warm and friendly folks of LICL this Sunday.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Blood of Love

I might have shared this before but I can't help myself.  It's Martin Luther and it's good, comforting news.  From Treasury of Daily Prayer:

Therefore, if consciousness of a great sin weighs you down, comfort yourself with the blood of is solely in the blood of Christ that we have confidence on the Day of Judgment.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

God knows you? Yes!

Marsha Kaitz, a psychology professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, did a test to see how well mothers know their babies.  According to the Associated Press, the 46 mothers chosen for the test had all given birth in the previous five to 79 hours.  They had all breast fed their newborn.

Each mother was blindfolded and then asked to identify which of three sleeping babies was her own.  Nearly 70 percent of the mothers correctly chose their baby.  Most of the mothers said they knew their child by the texture or temperature of the infant's hand.  The woman apparently learned the identifying features during routine contact, said Kaitz, because they weren't allowed to study their babies to prepare for the experiment.

70 percent of the Moms could identify their child.  That's pretty impressive.  Even more impressive is Almighty God's ability to know His children.  It's 100%!

That's the word from the psalmist David.  Read Psalm 139 this week to learn more.  David writes it clearly - God knows you through and through.  From the time your alarm clock goes off in the morning until you switch off the bedroom light at night and hit the sack, God knows what you've done, where you've been and what you've said.  There is no place where you can hide from His Spirit.  There is no darkness that can conceal you.  From the moment of your conception until this very moment, God has you on His heavenly GPS screen.

And that's good! When we're honored for our hard work on the job, God knows and rejoices.  When we pound the pavement seeking any kind of a job, God knows and is with you.  God's searching knowledge of us leads us to put down our guard and be transparently honest with Him.  His Law shows how we have offended the Lord and so His Spirit leads us to repentance and faith.  His Gospel reassures us of the Lord's forgiveness and salvation.  We have His promise - the Lord will lead us in the way everlasting.  May God bolster your faith as you pray Psalm 139 this week.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who is stronger than death?

Name the devil's strength.  It's death, isn't it? As the wage of sin, death puts us into Satan's grip and guarantees each sinner a cell number in hell's prison.

Now, name someone stronger than death.  That has to be Jesus, doesn't it? The third day He rose victorious from the grave.  Death couldn't hold Him.  He was God's Son - as He professed to be.  Sin's payment was finished - as He had proclaimed from the cross.  Those who believed in Him would never die - as He had promised.

From As Luther Taught the Word of Truth, page 56.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Preach the Gospel and please, use words!

It is St. Francis who is to have said, "Go out today and preach the Gospel...and if you must, use words."  I don't know if he said such a thing but I have a hard time with such a thought.

The Gospel is all about Jesus Christ - His suffering, death and resurrection for the redemption of the world.  The Gospel is good news, the best news anyone can hear.  The Gospel is all about words - words regarding the salvation that is God's free gift to those who believe in Jesus - the way and the truth and the life.

The life that St. Francis is speaking of is one that is motivated by the Gospel.  The love of Jesus changes us and moves us.  We want to be salt and light to the world.  We want to love our neighbor as Jesus first loved them and us.  We want to let our light shine in a world full of darkness and sin so that more and more people will come to know and trust Jesus to be their Savior from sin and death.

In Acts, chapter 8, Phillip used the words of the 5th Gospel - Isaiah - to help the eunuch see and believe in the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."  Paul wrote to the Romans that the "Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of the world."  The Gospel is all about the Word - Jesus!

By all means, go out today and show the power of God's love at work in your life.  Let people see the difference that Jesus makes.  But also be ready to speak His Gospel of love and forgiveness to those around you.  Preach the Gospel...and use words to do it!