Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lutherans do Holy Week well

On Thursday evening, before our Maundy Thursday service, I stopped a visitor to introduce myself.  She told me that she was a member of a large non-denominational church and was just visiting.  Her next comment was one I won't soon forget.  "You Lutherans do Holy Week so well."

I agree.  The Lenten season is a journey.  We're invited to travel with Jesus to Jerusalem where he will clear the temple a second time; teach His disciples; verbally spar with His opponents; establish a new covenant with His followers; suffer a horrific death.

Maundy Thursday we watch as God washed the feet of His creation.  He replaces the Passover Meal with a better one - a meal in which He gives Himself in the bread and the wine for the forgiveness of sins.

Good Friday is a day that is only good for us.  There was nothing good about what Jesus experienced.  The sinless One suffers for sinners.  Our Redeemer pays our ransom so that we might be set free from the guilt of sin and the fear of death and the power of the devil.  That is why we worship on Good Friday - to be reminded of the price that Jesus paid for our redemption.

Today at Life in Christ we will have an Easter vigil service at 4:32 pm.  And then we celebrate on Easter Sunday with 3 services - 6:30, 8:30 and 10:30 am.  Activities for the kids begin at 9:20 am.  Join us as we reach the end of our Lenten journey and greet everyone with the greatest words ever heard - "He is risen! He is risen indeed!"

Friday, March 29, 2013

A prayer for Good Friday

Lord Jesus Christ, I know I will never be forsaken by God the Father because You are my Savior and my atonement - You, who hung forsaken on the cross at Golgotha for me.  Even if I never finish what I ought to do and want to do in thankfulness and love for what You did for me, I can still know that You completed everything, even what I was supposed to do.  You took upon Yourself all my guilt, all my trespasses, and everything I was responsible for.  You took my sin upon Yourself when God saw it and it had to be consumed by the burning coals of His holy fire.  I know I can never thank You enough for what You did out of love for me.  Yet, I know You did it so I would receive it free of charge.  Therefore, I stretch my hands out to Your cross and take hold of it, praying that I may rest under its blessed arms, now and forever.  Amen.

Bo Giertz, from To Live With Christ

Thursday, March 28, 2013

This is how much He loves you

So come to His table, listening only to His words and receiving what He gives.  All your doing doesn't count against you anymore.  There is none of you, none of your doing outside of Jesus forgiveness.  Nothing can separate you from Him, for He has borne it all and answered for it in your place.  The Lord invites you to His table, family and fellowship to share all His happy good.  This is how much He loves you.  And by this Meal the Lord brings you on your way to that glad feast that is the feast of the Lamb with all His saints.

Saints - that is you and me and all His disciples, the many accounted righteous, whose iniquities He bore, whose chastisement He took, those whom He makes whole by what He did as the sacrifice for sin and by what He gives us to share together at His table.  Amen.

Selected Sermons of Normal Nagel - page 112

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What would make the devil happy?

In light of all that is happening this week at the Supreme Court of the United States, I find this quote from Matt Harrison's book, "Christ Have Mercy" to be instructive:

The devil is not happy until he has successfully destroyed all institutions and all order and replaced them with chaos.  (page 208)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

This week see GRACE in action

The cost of your sin is greater than you can pay.  The gift of your God is more than you can imagine.

John Jeske
Connecting Sinai to Calvary, page 27

Monday, March 25, 2013

Martin Luther on Faith

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace.  It is so sure and certain that a person could stake his our her life on it a thousand times.

Friday, March 22, 2013


People are often interested in motivation.  We want to know the "why" of a situation.

Why did you come in after curfew? Why did you take the company's money? Why were you unfaithful to a loving spouse?

This weekend at LICL we deal with the question, "Why did Jesus keep that appointment in Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday?" Think you know the answer? Come and join us.  Saturday's 4:32 service features liturgy plus modern hymns and songs.  Sunday's 8 and 10:45 am services are traditional with Holy Communion celebrated at the later service.  Christian LIFE Hour takes place at 9:15 in the morning.  Hope to see you this weekend at Life in Christ!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Well, if I thought yesterday was busy...

Today is really gonna be a killer! Here's what my schedule looks like:

Fly to Washington to help Democrats and Republicans broker a budget deal.

Fly back to Arizona to help Gov. Brewer sell her Medicaid plan.

Learn to play the Flugelhorn.

Then after lunch...

Paint the inside and outside of my house.

Translate the English Bible back into the original Greek.

Fly to Alaska to fish for salmon; bring back home for dinner.

Master the violin.

Watch a little of March Madness and then head off to bed.  To be sure I'll be exhausted but I'll feel satisfied by accomplishing much on a typical workday for me:-).

You have a good day, too!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's gonna be a full day!

How about you? How is your day shaping up?

When I get to the office this morning, I'll take the first hour to pray, read the Treasury and read a little Luther.  Then...

I'll prepare Saturday's 4:32 service

I'll prepare Sunday's services

I'll begin work on both the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services

I'll work on a wedding homily that has to be ready by Saturday afternoon

I'll have dinner with our folks at Wednesday's "Quick Supper."

I'll have the privilege of preaching on how Jesus is "the Way" and how no one comes to the Father except through Him - even repentant criminals who are being crucified.

I think that's enough.

Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Is your pastor delivering Jesus to you?

I didn't write down where I found this comment from Martin Luther.  Profound in its simplicity...

For the preaching of the Gospel is nothing else than Christ coming to us, or we being brought to Him.

Is your pastor delivering Jesus to you in his preaching and teaching?

Like the apostle Paul, is he resolved to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified? (1 Cor. 2;2)

Does he point to Jesus as the only way, truth and life? (John 14:6)

Does his preaching help you to see Jesus in His humility and glory? (John 12:21)

Helpful, effective preaching always has Jesus as its heart and core.

If your pastor is delivering Jesus to you, thank him.

If not, tell your pastor that you "wish to see Jesus."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Our Substitute

From John Jeske's wonderful 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.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Remember Eric Liddell?

If you remember the film, "Chariots of Fire," then you remember Eric Liddell and the controversial stand he took during the 1924 Olympics.  He ran the 400 meters an won a gold medal.  What happened to Liddell following the Olympics? Learn more this weekend at LICL.  Worship happens on Saturday at 4:32 pm and on Sunday at 8 and 10:45 am.  Also, there's a Bible class for every age group at 9:15 am.  Hope to see you this weekend at Life in Christ!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!

Author Eugene Peterson has some very interesting observations regarding "joy."  For example:

Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship; it is a is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience.

All suffering, all pain, all emptiness, all disappointment is seed: sow it in God and He will, finally, bring a crop of joy from it.

So often we believe that joy is something that we must muster up for ourselves.  Of course, we can't produce joy but how often do we fall for the lie that if we do something that makes us feel good (regardless of what God says about it) or if we obtain some new thing, we'll be joyous?

If we care at all about our relationship with God, living outside of His will won't bring a lasting joy.

And stuff can't make us happy.  Stuff breaks down or wears out or fall apart.  How much joy is there in all of that?

Where do we look for joy? Paul wrote to the Philippians: Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!

Our joy is in Jesus.  He puts the bounce in our step, the smile on our face, the joy in our hearts.

Listening to Him in His Word...speaking to Him in prayer...being in His house to receive His gifts...sharing His gifts with the people around us - that where joy is found. 

We can't produce joy.  Jesus gives it as one of His precious gifts.

Worship the Lord faithfully and serve His people lovingly.  Watch and see if He doesn't fill your heart with joy overflowing!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nothing says fun like swinging in the back yard

My grandson, 8 months old, in his swing on the back porch.  Looks like great fun, doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Bible TV program -seriously?

David recited Psalm 23 as he marched out to plunk Goliath right between the eyes with a stone? Come on!

Sunday's installment of The Bible on the History Channel was nearly unwatchable.

Except, like a car accident on the freeway, you had to look.

And speaking of David, did you get any sense, from the program, that this was a man after God's own heart?

On the other hand, if you want to believe this show, David was a man after Uriah's own wife.  And the lusting began long before David became a peeping tom and watched Bathsheba get a sponge bath (at least that's what the show depicts).

I think the producers simply decided to use the Scriptures as source material to produce their own "Spartacus" program, but with less blood and sex.

I was rooting for this program.  But it turns out that "The Bible" is so much less than the real thing.

If you keep on watching, keep a piece of paper and pencil handy.  Make note of the stories the program shares.  Then, get out your Bible, find the story and learn what really happened.  And that may be the best thing that comes out of this - that some people will actually start reading their Bibles again.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Back to Weight Watchers

I eat.

Lately, I'm eating everything is sight.  I know I eat for comfort.  I must need a lot of comforting, given all the food I'm putting away.

So I signed up for Weight Watchers again this morning. 

For some this is surely a sign of weakness.  I know what you're thinking: "Any person with an once of self-discipline can control their appetite."

I must have a leak someplace.  The self-discipline gauge has slipped below 1/4.

They say that the best diet is the one you will use.  Weight Watchers works for me.

Counting points seems tedious to some.  But having a goal and then having a tool to reach that goal works for me.

Besides, it's kind of fun counting the points.  To be able to manage the points throughout the day, being able to have a glass of wine or an IPA at night, and know that you're still on track to lose some poundage it a good thing.

Anyway, I'll let you know in a week how I'm doing.  Now I need to go measure out some cereal.  Hey, fruit is free! OK!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Parable of the Prodigal Family

is the theme of worship this weekend at LICL.  Join us for today's 4:32 service (at 4:32 pm:-) or tomorrow at 8 and 10:45 am.  You can also give God two by attending Christian LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) Hour at 9:15 am.  Hope to see you this weekend for worship, study and making connections at Life in Christ!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Looking for a cheerful giver!

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for the Lord loves a cheerful giver.  2 Corinthians 9:7

Interestingly, the word translated, "cheerful," in the Greek could also be translated as "hilarious."  Such a person is happy to be able to give back to the Lord a portion of what the Lord has blessed that person with in the first place.

A college student who went to Africa on a mission trip told of seeing hilarious givers.  In the church where they worshipped, no offering plates were passed.  Instead, a large metal pot was set up in front of the altar.  On the pastor's cue, the people were invited to give their offerings.  The student said, "The people gave with great, great joy.  They danced down the aisles.  Most only had a few coins to give.  Others put vegetables from their garden in the pot.  It didn't matter.  They were excited that they could give something back to God and His church.  It caused myself to ask, "Do I give my offerings with that kind of joy and excitement?"

I guess it depends on how you look at the tithe or offering you give to the Lord's church each Sunday.  Do you place your offering envelope in the plate with an attitude of "have to" instead of "want to?"  A "have to" giver does so reluctantly or under compulsion.  A "want to" giver does so with gratitude for all that has been received from the Lord's hand - forgiveness, salvation, peace and joy.  These are gifts that can't be bought but are given in great abundance by the God who loves and gave His Son to be Savior from sin, death and hell.

May the Lord help us all to be cheerful giver of our gifts, this Sunday and every time we worship!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Writing the preached Word into our hearts

A prayer from the sainted Dr. Luther:

Eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant us Your Holy Spirit who writes the preached Word into our hearts. May we receive and believe it and be cheered and comforted by it in eternity.  Glorify Your Word in our hearts and make it so bright and warm that we may find pleasure in it, through Your holy inspiration think what is right, and by Your power fulfill the Word, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord.  Amen.

From The Lord Will Answer, page 256

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Longing for Jesus

Love these words...they're part of a prayer written by Bo Giertz and found in the book, "To Live with Christ," page 660:

Allow my weakness to become a hand that reaches out for You, an emptiness You can fill, a longing that never stops hoping for You.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Bible - part one

I didn't have a chance until yesterday afternoon to watch part one of "The Bible," the new mini-series on the History Channel.  I thought the program started off with a bang but lost momentum by the end of the two hours.  Looking back over my notes...

I was encouraged to watch Noah pass down the creation account to his children even as God was destroying much of his creation - because of their sinfulness.

The violence was very realistic.  Parents should be careful about letting their younger children watch this program.

Gary Oliver portrayed Abraham and I appreciated his performance very much.  His depiction of Abraham as a man of faith who trusted in God's Word of promise was spot on.

The pain Abraham and Sarah felt when she decided that her husband should have a child with Hagar really demonstrated just how much harm we can bring to ourselves and the ones we love when we fail to trust God and put our own plans into action.

Where was the Passover Meal? How the producers determined to omit something so vitally important to the story of God's people and their flight from Egypt was a real headscratcher.

The whole escape sequence was a disappointment.  Read chapter 14 of Exodus and imagine how that could have been filmed - it would have been much more exciting than what was offered in the program.

The giving of the 10 Commandments was dramatic - but no golden calf?

There has been much criticism that The Bible is just a series of stories instead of one complete narrative.  I don't have a problem with the approach the producers took.  We tell stories about Abraham, Moses and Joshua to our children.  As we continually teach the Scriptures we expect to fill in the gaps so that our kids (and all our hearers) get the complete picture.

In the case of The Bible, it was some of the key elements being left out of the stories that was distressing to me.  Still, it was a worthy effort.  Let's face it - the world is not exactly welcoming stories of Christian faith these days.  To be able to tune in and watch a show that is trying to point to Almighty God as the creator of all living things and who wants to be in relationship with His creation is pretty amazing.  Kudos to the producers for a good first effort.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Welcome to my office!

When we moved into our new building in April, 2008, I was blessed with a brand new office.  It's large and comfortable. 
I find the table(above) to be a good place to hold small meetings, to counsel with people and to pray with them.  And you can never have too many bookshelves. I like my working area.  Everything I need is within arm's reach. The last picture features a print of Luther that I picked up in Wittenburg a couple of years ago and the poster of Bach is a remind of the great time my dear, sweet wife and I had at the Bach Fest in Leipzig back in 2011. 

I spend 55-60 hours a week at work and much of that time is spent in the office.  I really appreciate the fact that my congregation has given my such a nice place to work in.  And after a day to recharge my batteries (so to speak) I'll be back in the office tomorrow.  May the Lord bless my work...and yours!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Livin in Grace Time

That's our theme for worship this weekend at LICL.  Come and join us! Our 4:32 service starts at, well, 4:32 pm today. Sunday worship at the usual times of 8 and 10:45 am.  Christian LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) Hour begins at 9:15 am.  Set aside some time and join us this weekend at Life in Christ!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Thank the Lord for answered prayer

A young girl who ran away from home returned...thank the Lord!

A couple who were thinking about splitting up are going to get help...thank the Lord!

Protection came for a woman caught in an abusive situation...thank the Lord!

Peace has come to a conflicted work situation...thank the Lord!

Additional help has come during a busy Lenten season...thank the Lord!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever! Amen.