Saturday, June 29, 2013

Be Free - To Produce Good Fruit

Tomorrow at Life in Christ, the temperature will be 76 degrees! OK, we'll be in doors and it will be really nice so join us! Worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am and will feature part four of our sermon series, "Be Free," based on the Sunday texts from Galatians.  Classes for all ages meet at 9:15 am.  Be cool! Come and visit us this Sunday at LICL!

Friday, June 28, 2013

My summer reading list

is light! No heavyweight reading here.  I'm a little embarrassed by this list.  But it's hot, it's going to be 119 degrees in Phoenix today so some lightweight reading is in order.

"Playing for Pizza" by John Grisham - it is the story of a washed up football player who is so bad that the only gig he can get is playing quarterback for a team in Italy.  Grisham non-legal thriller stuff is always good so I'm looking forward to reading this one.

"Chasing the Game" by Filip Bondy - is about the 2010 USA Soccer team and their appearance in the World Cup event.  About 8 years ago I started watching the Fox Soccer Channel and finally learned why soccer is called "The Beautiful Game."  Although the book is a couple of years old, it will surely whet my appetite for next year's World Cup.

"Fiery Fullback" by Clair Bee - is about fictional sports hero, Chip Hilton.  When I was a kid I read this series over and over.  The hardback books are out of print and collectors items.  The series made a return about 10 years ago in paperback.  "Fiery Fullback" was never published - Bee's publisher felt that boys were no longer reading about sports heroes, mostly because boys could watch their heroes on television.  I found this book in a Savers store and it cost me 73 cents!

"What They Need to Hear" by Klemet I. Preus - is actually a series of letter written by Preus to his father in law.  The letters give testimony to the new life in Christ and a call for the father in law to return, in repentance and faith, to the Lord.  The subtitle of the book is "Sharing Christ with Family and Friends."

So if you find me on a beach or sitting on the porch of a mountain top cabin, don't laugh or sneer at my lightweight list.  I'll try to do better in the fall.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It was a Hard Day's Night - 49 years ago today

I read today that the soundtrack to the Beatles' film, "A Hard Days Night," was released 49 years ago today.  A couple of summers ago, Sherri and I went on a walking tour with Richard Porter, Beatles expert extraordinaire in London.  We met at the train station where the Beatles began their first day of filming. (Second photo)  Remember the opening scene where the three of the Beatles are running down a street, George falls and takes Ringo with him? The first photo shows the street where it all happened.  I wanted to throw myself down on the side walk but my dear, sweet wife thought that would be kind of dumb.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Praising God for His Mercy

The God whose holiness will not permit Him to accept me for what I am is a God whose mercy has accepted me for what Christ is.

John Jeske, From Sinai to Calvary, page 176

Monday, June 24, 2013

Making New Friends

Summertime is upon us and so we are starting to see a bit of a drop off in attendance at LICL.

None of this is a surprise.  Several folks came by the office yesterday to let me know that they would be gone for a few weeks and not to be worried by their absence.  And it seems like we already have a number of families who are off visiting family or taking dream vacations or just looking to escape our typical summer heat.

What is interesting is the number of visitors we seem to get during the summer.  Two more families came to worship with us for the first time yesterday.  I didn't get the chance to visit very much with either one but one of the families told our greeters that they would be back to visit again.  That was exciting news!

I also had the chance to connect a face with a name.  For some time now one of our members and I have been praying for a lady who is battling cancer.  Yesterday, our member brought her friend with her to church.  The friend asked about being baptized and how she could learn more about our church.  For our member, it was an answer to prayer.  So I'll be making a follow up call tomorrow.  Praise the Lord for this opportunity.

Sometimes people ask how it is that Life in Christ has grown to almost 600 baptized members.  It's not much of a secret.  We haven't employed any ground breaking church growth ideas.  We don't have the biggest staff or the largest facility.  We're not awash in all kinds of programs.

We have God's Word and Sacraments and we have lots of friendly people.  God's Means of Grace (Word, Baptism & Lord's Supper) offers forgiveness and gives peace and hope.  In these troubling times, peace of heart and mind and hope for today and tomorrow are what people are seeking.  And people are looking for acceptance.  They seek a place where connections can be made and relationships can be built.  The Gospel and friendly people are what many find at Life in Christ.

And that enables us to make new friends.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

This is one way to spend a Saturday

Our cat, Glory, chills out on a Saturday morning.  I imagine this is how Saturday afternoon and evening will look as well.  It's a good life!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Be Free - to Share the Inheritance!

This Sunday at Life in Christ we're back to our sermon series, "Be Free!" This time we'll focus on the inheritance that those who believe in Christ Jesus will receive.  We'll also learn that there is no need to worry about getting our rightful share because we all have so much in common.  How are we all alike? Join us this Sunday and you'll find out! Worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am with classes for all ages at 9:15 am.  It's really cool in our Sanctuary! See you this Sunday at LICL!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dad, we can't leave now!

Although I only watched a few minutes of Tuesday's NBA game, I heard lots of talk yesterday about the many Miami fans who left the game early because it appeared that their team was going to lose, only to rush back to the arena and try to get back in when Miami rallied (Whew! That was a long sentence!).

It reminded me of a time when I tried to leave a game early.

My dear, sweet wife and the kids and I were vacationing in San Diego.  I suggested to Sherri that Eric and I could drive out to Jack Murphy stadium to see the Padres play.  Sherri was all for it.  She thought it would be a great Father-Son outing.  It also meant that she would not have to go with me - Sherri finds baseball kind of boring.

Eric and I got to the stadium and were able to purchase really good seats, not too far behind the Padres dugout.  We settled in and looked forward to a great game.

Unfortunately, the Padres got pummeled.  They fell behind quickly and one relief pitcher after another could not stem the onslaught.

About the 7th inning, I said to Eric, "You ready to go?"  Eric asked, "WHY?"

"Well, the Padres are behind by 10 runs.  This game is over."


"Eric, I'm telling you, this game is over.  Why don't we just leave now?"


Let me tell you, the Padres did not win.  There was no exciting comeback.  I know because we stayed until the very end of the game.

But I was reminded of something that I had lost sight of.

The faith of a child.

Eric believed that the Padres could still win the game.  As long as there were innings to be played, Eric had hope.

It's that very faith and hope that is needed when we become ill or when we lose our job or when our marriage seems to be falling apart or when any number of difficulties or troubles come our way.

How tempting it is to give up. 

But to quit before the game ends? We just might miss what Jesus can do for us.

Child-like faith in Jesus helps us to stay in the game so that the Lord has the time to help us with our health or open a door of opportunity or show us how to patch up our marriage.

The Padres couldn't have won that game if they'd played 18 innings.  But where Jesus is, the game is never over. 

Easter Sunday proves it.  In His resurrection Jesus fashioned the greatest victory from seeming defeat the world has ever seen. 

In the Gospel Jesus talks about the importance of child-like faith.

I saw it on display one evening in San Diego.

Eric's example reminds me to this day to not check out the baseball game or in the daily circumstances of life.

Who knows what miracle finish Jesus has planned for you?  Trust Him! He is your hope!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Practice, practice, practice!

The difference between a professional and an amateur?

I had an affinity for Bach, and enjoyed it more.  As (my music teacher) pointed out to me, with exasperation, and on more than one occasion, I liked to play, rather than practice, and that marked me as an amateur.

Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me, page 15.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Welcome, Greg Fairow!

This Sunday at Life in Christ we'll be blessed by the ministry of a classmate of mine from Seminary, Greg Fairow.  He is campus pastor at Concordia University and also has a consulting ministry for colleges and congregations who seek to establish or strengthen ministry and outreach on college campuses.  Greg will proclaim God's Word at both services and also speak during the Bible class hour.  No one knows better what's happening on college campuses today than Greg.  Come and join us! Worship 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!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The blessing of friendship

Oh, the comfort,
the inexpressible comfort
of feeling safe with another person.
Having neither to weigh thoughts
nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out
just as they are,
chaff and grain together -
certain that a faithful hand
will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping
and with a breath of kindness
blow the rest away.

Dinah Craik

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A little dose of Luther every day

Lately I've been feeling guilty about the Luther's Works sitting on my book shelves.  Specifically, that I wasn't really using them as much as I wanted to.

I get Rev. Scott Murray's email blast every morning and he often includes a healthy dose of Luther.  But I wanted more.

I did some checking on the internet and learned that about 30 years ago (give or take a year) George Kraus had written a small booklet that offered suggested reading from Luther's Works for every single day.

Just one problem - the booklet is out of print and it seems that you can't find it anywhere.  I know because I tried.

Coming to the rescue was Rev. Robert Smith from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  He told me that a copy of Kraus' booklet was in the Seminary Library and that they would send it to me. 

I've spent the past week making notes of the readings so now I'm ready to begin.  As I mine Luther's Works for nuggets, I'll pass them along to you.

Here's one gem: For faith does not rest and declare a holiday; it bursts into action, speaks and preaches of this promise and grace of God, so that other people may also come up and partake of it.

Luther's Works, Volume 15, page 273.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What to pray for?

A helpful tip found in a petition by Bo Giertz:

I know I can't keep everything You give.  Therefore, I pray for what best can benefit Your work.  I pray for whatever I need to serve You and help others to experience the light Your resurrection has brought to our world.

From To Live in Christ, page 323

Monday, June 10, 2013

It's Luther's Wedding Day!

Over the weekend I read that Wittenberg, Germany cancelled the annual celebration of Martin Luther's wedding to his beloved Katie because of the flooding that has hit much of the country.  My dear, sweet wife and I were there 2 years ago and enjoyed the celebration.  There was a parade, a variety of activities around the city square, much entertainment and all kinds of delicious foods.  It was a joy to be in the great man's town!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My favorite singer!

Here I am with my favorite singer, Nicole Lingenfelter Ho.  I've known Nicole for about seven years now.  She is an amazing vocalist and has the chops, in my opinion, to have competed and won American Idol (yeah, a huge boast but I'm pretty sure I'm right!).  She serves in our armed forces now but anytime she is in town, we just have to have her sing in church.
Keeping the beat is Dan Seabreeze, the best drummer in the Valley of the Sun.  Obscured by Nicole's music stand is the wonderful Connie Kanzler on piano.  She and Dan hold things together and cover my many mistakes.  Below, Nicole has assembled a choir of kids to help her sing "Rock of Ages."  (It's not the version you think!)  My two oldest grandsons are a part of the talented crew.

Friday, June 7, 2013

What's in your tool box?

As a kid I remember admiring my Dad's tool box.  He knew how to use those tools and could just about build or fix anything.  I did not inherit his aptitude for doing such tasks so hammers and pliers and socket wrenches are not something I'm familiar with.  But I do have a tool box.  You can have one too.  Find out more this Sunday at Life in Christ.  I'm continuing the sermon series I started last Sunday entitled, "Be Free!"  Worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am with Sunday school, junior and senior high youth meeting at 9:15 am (our adult class is cancelled so that our voting members can meet).  Looking for a place to connect - with the Lord and with other folks? Join us this Sunday at LICL!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

To whom can you be the hands of Jesus today?

In England, on the base of a statue of Jesus with arms outstretched were the words, "Come unto me."  After the war, an artist was hired to restore that statue, shattered by German bombs.  But he couldn't find Jesus' hands.  So he left the statue without them and changed the wording on the base to read, "Christ has no hands, but ours."

Richard E. Lauersdorf, Together with Jesus, March 23 devotion

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Theology of the Cross vs. Theology of Glory

Prof. John Pless hits the proverbial nail on the head:

While Lutherans also confess that God is almighty, Lutheran theology does not begin with His majesty but with His mercy in Christ.

From Handling the Word of Truth, page 101

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Words to live by...

Whenever I get a little money, I buy books.  And if there's any left over, then I buy food and clothes.