Friday, May 31, 2013

Be Free!

For the next five Sundays we'll be focusing on the Epistle to the Galatians during our worship at Life in Christ.  This Sunday: Be Free...from DIY Spirituality!

Do you watch the DIY Network? When it comes to backyard projects or home remodeling or updating the landscaping around your house, doing it yourself can be fun and save you money.  But many people today are practicing do-it-yourself spirituality which, in the end, is the "different gospel" the apostle Paul writes about in his letter to the Galatians.

Join us for worship this Sunday at 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE Hour (Learning Is For Everyone) at 9:15 am.  Hope to see you this Sunday at LICL!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hang it up, please!

OK, I'm minding my own business while driving south on 83rd Avenue on my way to the office.  Suddenly a huge SUV starts drifting into my keeps keeps's gonna hit me!

Do I hit the gas and try to speed around it? Nope! Not enough room.

Do I break and let the SUV take my lane? Quick rear view mirror check...nothing behind me.  Hit the breaks!

And, oh yeah, HONK THE HORN!!

The SUV finally realizes what is happening and jerks the vehicle back into the proper lane.

As I move past the SUV (which is now in a left turn lane) I see that the driver is talking on his cell phone!

Come on! Do you really have to talk on the phone while you're driving?

Navigating traffic in the Phoenix area requires full concentration.  We have people driving here who have no idea where their turn signal is.  Some believe a yellow light is just as good as green.  Others drive as if the speed limit was just a suggestion.

Please, stay off the phone while driving! Do it as a favor to me.  When that SUV began its assault against my poor, defenseless Mini-Cooper, my life flashed before my eyes.

Growing up in Massachusetts in a large family.  Playing touch football with my brothers and sisters.  Commanding PT 109.  Writing "Profiles in Courage."

Suddenly, I realized, "This isn't even my life!"

So put your phone away and stay in your own lane.  My insurance company and I will appreciate it!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why is prayer so hard?

Is it because we haven't got down the right techniques? Is it because we don't have the right devotional book or tool? No, the answer is simple and Rev. Scott Murray provides it for us.  From his "Memorial Moment" of March 8:

Sinners must pray.  This fact goes against all that we know and feel in our hearts.  Satan, the world, and our sinful flesh all conspire against us, so that we would be inclined to flee God and avoid prayer.  Like the guilty child, who has broken mother's vase, we avoid facing our Father with our transgressions...we flee from God's presence for fear of being swallowed up by His righteousness.  He is holy.  I am not.  The calculus is quite simple.

This is why we Christians practice repentance and faith.  None of us like to admit failure.  Who wants to come before the Lord and confess the ways in which we failed to make His will our own? But to come clean before the Lord and then take heart in the forgiveness and grace which God poured out on us in baptism is to know that God has removed the barrier that makes it so very difficult to face the Lord in prayer. 

Now we can pour our hearts out before the Lord.  We can share our own petitions and concerns.  We can pray on behalf of our neighbor.  We don't need a special technique or the latest devotional book.  All you need is God's Word and a quiet place.  Read some Scripture.  Meditate on what you've read.  Pray.  Speak to the Lord as you would a good friend.  Pray with confidence that all the promises found in Scripture that God hears our prayers is your guarantee that the Lord is listening.  Trust Him.  Give Him room to work in your life.  Don't give up.  Pray. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

100 holes of one day?!

That's right! My son-in-law, Joshua Doxtator is playing 100 holes of golf today at Trilogy at Vistancia in order to raise money for Special Olympics.  This is the fourth year he has done so and is looking to raise nearly $13,000 for his efforts.

Josh is the golf professional at Trilogy so you would think that 100 holes of golf would be a piece of cake, so to speak, for him.  But he tells me that by the end of the day, you're just hoping to finish.  He teed off at sun up and hopes to be finished around 6 pm.

Interestingly, I have an idea of what it's like to play 100 holes of golf.  Understand, the most I've ever played in one day is 18 holes.  But I usually take enough strokes to cover at least 100 holes of the worst golf anyone has ever seen!

Go Josh!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

It's Confirmation Sunday!

Our Confirmation classes began studying the Catechism last August and the 2 year group is ready to confess the faith in which they were baptized this Sunday.  This has been one of our best groups.  They completed all the memory work assignments and participated easily in the Sunday morning lessons and discussion.  What is especially thrilling to me is that it appears that all six will continue on with our high school class in the fall.  Each have supportive parents and grandparents who faithfully attend worship and Bible study and that makes a big difference with kids continuing to be faithful themselves in worship, study and service.

Our last Saturday service, which is going on hiatus, takes place this afternoon at 4:32 with Pastor John Pope preaching.  Holy Communion will be celebrated.  Sunday services are at 8 and 10:45 am (the later service is the Confirmation service) with classes for all ages taking place at 9:15 am.  Come and join us this weekend at LICL!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Verse of the Week! Verse of the Week!

My pastor, David Schultz, one time said to me, "George, there are certain verses of the Bible that you must commit to memory.  This is one of them."

It's Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.

Paul's message is crystal clear - you and I contribute absolutely nothing to our salvation.  From beginning to ending, it is God's work.  With the empty but trusting hands of faith (also God's gift) we receive the undeserved gift of salvation and eternal life for our very own.

That's what makes the grace of God, as the old song says, so amazing.

Happy memorization!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What is faith?

I like this answer from Richard C. Eyre's book, Pastoral Care Under the Cross:

Faith is not a power tool that enables us to remake our lives, but an empty tool box that witnesses to our dependence on God as our Master Carpenter.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This blog has gone to the dogs!

Yesterday I wrote of my deep like (alright, love) of my cats.  On my Facebook page I posed the question, "Are you a cat person or a dog person?"

The cats had better run for their lives!

The responses were not too surprising.  I recall reading several studies that indicated that folks overwhelmingly found dogs to be the better pet - more loyal and loving while providing comforting companionship.

Cats are different.  They often act as if they could care less about the people around them. They are sometimes happy to receive your love but don't seem to reciprocate.  Some cats seem to live by the motto, "Keep the food bowl full and leave me alone!"

Two years ago about this time we lost our cat, Hope.  She adopted us.  Although we didn't want another cat (we already had our youngest daughter's weird cat), Hope would not leave us alone.  When she came down with some kind of virus, we took her into the garage so that she might recover.  It wasn't long before she had the run of the house.

We grew to love that cat deeply.  We got stories from the neighbors that she would hide in their bushes and then jump out at them.  Put a scare into a couple of them.  But they tolerated her.

There was the time when she was expecting her first litter of kittens.  I woke up in the middle of the night, poked my dear, sweet wife and said, "I think Hope is having her babies in our bed."  Sherri replied, "Don't be silly!"  She got up, turned on the bedroom light and voila! Hope was giving birth to her babies on our bed.  That's something that doesn't happen every day!

Hope was our baby for 14 years.  She was very loving.  She liked to lay on my lap and have the back of her neck scratched.  She'd purr away until she'd fall asleep. 

I have suffered from migraine headaches for over 20 years.  When I was lying in bed, moaning and groaning and in severe pain, Hope would join me.  She couldn't do a thing to relieve my pain.  But her companionship meant everything to me.

Rather than try and settle a debate over who makes the best pet, perhaps the best thing to do is to give thanks to God for the blessing of our pets.  Our cats and dogs and other pets are part of the Lord's creative work and they do give us great joy and happiness.  And that is something to be thankful for.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I like my cats!

I know...some people are dog people and some are cat people and, in most cases, never the twain shall meet!

Growing up, my folks were dog people.  Had no use for cats.  Any stray that happened onto our yard felt the full force of our garden hose from my Dad.  "Feed a cat once," he'd say, "and you're stuck with them forever!"  Needless to say, we didn't feed any cats.

When my folks move back to the Valley from Tucson in 1968, a very friendly male cat tried to adopt us.  My parents tried everything to chase the cat away but that cat was determined to hang around our front door.  One night I overheard my Dad tell my Mom that he was calling Animal Control the next day to come and collect the cat.

That night the cat got into a firece fight and really got his left hind leg torn up.  I had kind of grown attached to the cat and was really upset.  Then a miracle took place (yeah, I'm probably overstating it here but it seemed miraculous at the time!).

My Mom said, "The cat can stay indoors until its leg gets better.  We can't leave it outside injured like that."  Somehow my Dad went along with the plan (another miracle!).

That cat, whom my Mom christened, "Tom," was the perfect house cat.  He laid on the couch most of the day and slept on my bed during the night.  He would patiently wait at the door to go out side and "do his business" as my Mom described it.  The folks bought some cat food which Tom ate without complaint. 

After a couple of weeks, his leg healed.  But Tom did not leave the couch.  He had converted the dog people in the house.  They loved Tom almost as much as I did.

My wife, Sherri, and her family were cat people (score one big point for Sherri!).  For the almost 41 years we've been married, we've always had cats.  Presently we have two in the house - Glory and Titty.

Someone once said, "Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods.  Cats have never forgotten this."  I, instead, prefer an old Irish saying, "Who would believe such pleasure from a wee ball o' fur."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

It's Pentecost!

We'll celebrate the church's birthday this weekend at LICL. Our Saturday service meets at 4:32 pm and Deacon Candidate Danny Baker will proclaim God's Word for the worshippers.  On Sunday, our Bell Choir offers its final song for the season (we'll miss them this summer!).  Worship is at 8 and 10:45 am with classes for all ages at 9:15 am.  Hope to see you this Sunday at Life in Christ!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Can God make a rock so big He can't lift it?

Can God make a rock so big He can't lift it? If He can't lift it then He is not all powerful.  Then the rock has more power than God and whatever is more powerful than God is God.

If God can make it, He can lift it.  If He can create it, He can destroy it.  What He creates is under His jurisdiction, under His control.  It can never have equality.

From ""

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What the Holy Spirit does

This Sunday celebrates Pentecost, the sending of the promised Holy Spirit by the Father and the Son, which brought about the birth of the holy Christian church.  As I was working on the manuscript yesterday, I came across this little gem from author Richard E. Lauersdorf:

My faith is the Spirit's miracle.  It's continuation is His work.

From Together with Jesus (sorry, can't read my own handwriting to tell which day in the devotional this came from!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Romans 6:23 - this week's Word to Keep

Last Sunday we began our weekly Scripture memorization plan at LICL.  At the 2 services I asked for a show of hands of those who memorized Psalm 119:105.  I got a good response at the 8 am service but only a couple of folks acknowledged memorizing the verse at the 10:45 am service.  I'm not sure what the problem is with the last service crew but they need to get in the game!

Hoping for better results this week, the verse we are working on it Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

We teach that the Bible contains two great messages, Law and Gospel.  This verse has both - wages of sin is death reminding us of what we earn for have broken God's commands but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus teaches us that what we can't earn, God gives to us through faith in our Lord and Savior.

Join us this week in memorizing God's Word.  What better thing can we do than keep the Word of God and treasure it in our hearts.  And if any of our 10:45 am worshippers are reading, make me proud!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Your Savior & the storms

Do you find yourself today standing in the middle of a storm? A financial storm...a sickness storm...a relationship storm? Do the winds of fear swirl around you? Is guilt about to blow you over? I really appreciated the advice I received a long time ago from author, David Garland.

There are no stormless seas and all sailors must learn to expect the unexpected.  Chaos hits our lives and it can all happen so quickly.  One moment all is well and then, in a flash, all is hell.  Reading Mark (4:35-41) helps one learn to trust in a Savior who does not deliver us from storms but through the storms.

NIV Application Commentary/Mark, page 200

Friday, May 10, 2013

Come! Lord Jesus!

This weekend at LICL our services will focus on the Epistle Lesson from Revelation, chapter 22.  I'll finish the three part sermon series, "They WILL Live Happily Everafter," on Saturday.  We'll also have the joy of having Nicole Lingenfelter Ho joining us for worship.  She is a fantastic vocalist and will assist us with the music.

On Sunday, worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am and the sermon theme is, "Come! Lord Jesus!"  Our Worship Ensemble will provide special music during the services.  Christian LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) Hour begins at 9:15 am.  Join us this weekend as we worship the Lord at LICL!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A shout-out to my award-winning dear, sweet wife!

Last week my wife, Sherri, received the highly prestigous DAISY Faculty Award.  Recipients of this award are nurse educators whose expertise and excellence are demonstrated in their role as teachers of students studying nursing.  Sherri, who is a professor in the nursing department at Grand Canyon University, was presented the award by Dr. Anne McNamara, director of the College of Nursing at GCU.

DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.  The DAISY Foundation was formed by the family of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 of complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP).

Barnes' family was amazed by the skillful and compassionate care he received from his nurses during his hospitalization.  The Foundation was created to recognize those nurses and nurse educators who model the qualities that Barnes' nurses demonstrated during his eight week illness.

Sherri had no idea that she was receiving the award.  I only wish that I could have been there when her name was announced.  No one in my earthly life better models the love and compassion of Jesus Christ than my dear, sweet wife.  I am so proud of her.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This week's Word to Keep is...

Psalm 119:105 - Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

So last Sunday I shared my story about my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Royer, and her insistence that God's Word not go "in one ear and out the other."

Her solution? Memorization!

So the church family at Life in Christ is going to spend the next 52 weeks committing Bible verse to memory.  By the end, we will have recommitted or added 52 verses from which we all can draw upon when faith is being tested...when Satan is dressing up some sin as "good"and tempting us to jump on the bandwagon...when we need a Word of comfort or peace or hope from Jesus.

Psalm 119:105 is found once in Luther's Small Catechism.  Question 77 asks, "What purposes does the Law then serve?"

One of the answers is, "Third, the Law teaches us Christians what we should and should not do to lead a God-pleasing life (a guide).  The power to live according to the Law comes from the Gospel."

We cannot be saved by keeping the Law because God's expectation is 100% compliance.  Not even on our best day can we achieve what God demands.  Praise the Lord for His grace which we receive through faith in our Lord and Savior.

But the Law does teach us what God's will is for our lives.  And we who are His children want to please our Father in heaven.

God's Word lights up our path like a strong flashlight so that we might see the way of faith the Lord would have us go.

So let's get going! Don't let God's Word go in one ear and out the other! Memorize it! Keep it! And join us at this same time next week for another Word to Keep!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

There are two things that you've absolutely got to know!

Got this sage advise from Prof. Reed Lessing:

1) There is a God.

2) You are not it!

OK, folks, go out and make it a great day!

Friday, May 3, 2013

When you love someone...

How would you complete that thought? When you love someone...what?

Jesus helps us answer that question this Sunday at Life in Christ.  At our 4:32 service on Saturday we'll continue with part two of the series, "And They WILL Live Happily Everafter," as we explore Revelation, chapter 21.  On Sunday we offer services at 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE Hour at 9:15 am.  Hope you'll join us this weekend at LICL!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A petition for life

Lord of life, we confess that our public life has in many ways deviated from Your holy will.  Forgive us, Lord.  Have mercy upon us.  Give us the grace of repentance.  Help us cherish every human life from conception to natural death as a priceless gift to be nurtured and preserved.  Help us to uphold, protect and strengthen holy marriage as the life long union between a man and a woman.  Grant healing and restoration to all who have been hurt through the evils of abortion, divorce or sexual sin.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the National Day of Prayer 2013 from The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What is worship for?

It is for us poor sinners to receive the grace of God.

Scott Murray, "Memorial Moment," March 14, 2013