Monday, September 30, 2013

How does God work?

The Word, the Word, the Word."  That is how Martin Luther responded when asked how God works.  He forgives sin by His Word.  He creates faith by His Word.  He sustains faith by His Word.  He heals through His Word.  He raises the dead by His Word and He will raise the dead through His Word.

From "What They Need to Hear" by Klemut Preus, page 152

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Give God Two

That is, 2 hours of your time tomorrow.  Worship and Bible study go together like peanut butter and jelly, Lennon and McCartney, NCIS & NCIS LA, etc., etc.  We meet for worship at 8 and 10:45 am; I'm looking forward to joining Dan and Connie to provide the music for the service.  Classes for all ages meet at 9:20 am with a new adult class starting with Pastor Darling in the sanctuary and the Women's class continuing their study of the book, "Every Day Deserves a Chance" in room one.  So TIVO the Cardinals game, give God two hours of your time and then you've got the rest of the day to yourself.  Hope to see you tomorrow at LICL!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Maker of the Universe

The Maker of the universe, As Man, for man was made a curse
The claims of Law which He had made, Unto the uttermost He paid

His holy fingers made the bough, Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow
The nails that pierced His hands were mined, In secret places He designed

He made the forest whence there sprung, The tree on which His body hung
He died upon a cross of wood, Yet made the hill on which it stood

The sky that darkened o'er His head, by Him above the earth was spread
The sun from Him that hid its face, by His decree was poised in space

The spear which spilled His precious blood, was tempered in the fires of God
The grave in which His form was laid, Was hewn in rocks His hands had made

The throne on which He now appears, Was His from everlasting years
But a new glory crowns His brow, and every knee to Him shall bow

The Maker of the universe

Words by F.W. Pit
Hear Phil Keaggy's arrangement as he sings "The Maker of the Universe" on his album/cd, "Way Back Home"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The best words I hear on TV?

And they are, "Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode," spoken by Mark Harmon, star of CBS's "NCIS."

My dear, sweet wife and I have watched the show from the very first episode.  I watch because Harmon seems like a "man's man" and Sherri watches because he is a really good looking guy.  It's the perfect combination!

The new season, the show's 11th, began last night.  It solved last spring's cliff hanger ending and set the stage for a key cast member's departure.  During its run, NCIS has had supporting cast come and go but rating continue to climb.  And although the show gets no love whatsoever from the awards programs, it was last year's highest rated program not named "Sunday Night Football."

Why? Well, here's my theory.  In NCIS, good always prevails over evil.  Jethro Gibbs, Harmon's character, always gets the bad guy, always solves the crime.  And I think people like that a lot.

That's how we expect life to work.  But it doesn't.  Good, hard working people are victimized.  Evil, selfish people often  comes out ahead.  Our society seems to be in a state of disequilibrium.  It can leave us confused, disappointed and unsure about our future.

So, it's comforting when the bad guys get justice served on their heads.  And although NCIS is just a television program - make believe - it's nice to see wrongs righted and justice served.  And in 60 minutes! (Even less if you have TIVO). 

NCIS is coming up against some strong competition this fall.  And "American Idol" is always a threat to cut into the audience.  As for me and Sherri, we'll be sitting onto the edge of our seats for another year of NCIS.  And waiting to hear those favorite words at the end of each episode.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Missionary's Prayer

Actually, it's a prayer any of us could pray.

Lord, here are my eyes.  I give them to You.  I want to see only the things You want me to see.  Help me to look at the things You want me to look at and avoid the things You do not want me to look at.  Here are my hands.  Work through my hands to do what You want me to do.  Here are my feet.  Guide them to go where You want them to go.  I give You the Lordship of my life.

Bill Tisdale

Monday, September 23, 2013

I guarentee it!

It's been a good friend for about 15 years.  It's traveled from Missouri to South Carolina to Arizona.  It's suffered coffee spills and been marked with pen and pencil.  It's been dropped a few times and is being held together by more than one strip of strapping tape.  In spite of its looks, it will have my undying loyalty.  It's my Today's Light Bible.

The Today's Light Bible is like most devotional Bibles on the market today.  By following the daily reading guide, a person can go from Genesis to Revelation in just over two years.  Most reading can be done in 15 minutes or less, offering a person an easy opportunity to spend time hearing God speak through His Word and then responding with prayers and petitions back to the Lord.

But the best feature of the Today's Light Bible are the devotional comments by author Jane Fryer.  Fryer gets Law and Gospel.  Because this is so, she never fails to encourage me with the good news of God's love in Jesus Christ for me and the whole world.

Here's just one example, from page 1241: Read the promise of Hosea 13:14.  The death that was ours, is ours no longer.  The grave that belonged to us, belongs to us no more.  That death became Christ's death.  That grave became His grave.  And His life is now - right now - alive in us by His grace.

Christian bookstores are awash in all kinds of devotional books, Bibles and other materials.  If you're looking for an aid that will help you be in God's Word consistently, check out the Today's Light Bible.  If you're looking for an author who will help you rejoice in your new life in Christ Jesus, you'll be blessed by Jane Fryer's devotional thoughts.  To borrow George Zimmer's phrase: I guarantee it!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Job One

Back in the 80's the Ford Motor Company said building quality cars for their customers was "Job One."  In the Epistle lesson we explore tomorrow at worship, it seems that the Apostle Paul is calling prayer "Job One" for every Christian.  Join us tomorrow and learn more.  Worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am with classes for all age groups meeting at 9:20 am.  Come and worship the Lord this Sunday at LICL!

Friday, September 20, 2013

They say it's your birthday

So happy birthday to all of you who share this birth date with me!

Not sure why but this morning I woke up trying to answer the question, "What was your most memorable birthday?" Number 16 is the winner.

It somehow worked out that I would be able to take the driving test on my birthday in order to get my license.  After school my Dad took me down to the Motor Vehicle office and I took the test.  I used my turn signals correctly, maintained the proper distance while following another car, kept my hands on the stirring wheel at 10 and 2 and after 10 minutes or so, I was told that I passed.  Inwardly I did some cartwheels.  I got my picture taken, was handed a slip of paper and told that my official license would be coming in the mail.  We headed back home with me in the driver's seat, huge smile plastered on my face.

We had cake and ice cream and I opened a couple of presents.  When we had finished, my Dad asked, "Isn't there anything you want to say?"  I thought I'd already said "Thank you" for the gifts so I was stumped.  He said, "Don't you want to ask, 'Can I have the car?'"  Then, with a smile on his face, he tossed me the car keys and said, "Be back by sundown."

Wow! Had aliens taken over my Dad's body? He was not normally that generous.  I went out to the car, started the engine and wondered, "Where am I going to go?"  I hadn't expected this gift! So I drove over to see a couple of friends, bragged about how easy the driving test was and had the car back home before sundown, just as I was instructed.

I'm working today so I don't know how much time I'll have to reflect back on these years that the Lord has given me.  I'm thankful for my dear, sweet wife, my kids and grandkids, the many friends I've made through the years and the work that I've been privileged to do. 

And in a few weeks I'll celebrate another birthday - my baptismal birthday.  That's the day the Lord called me by name, placed his sign on my forehead and heart and adopted me into his family.  There won't be a cake to eat or presents to open.  But prayers of thanksgiving will be offered to the God who loved me enough to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the atoning sacrifice for my sins and the sins of the whole world.  How special is that?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The headline in the paper is wrong. Jesus saved Brian Welch!

That's what Brian Welch says!

All of you who are fans of the band, Korn, know the name.  Didn't know the band or who Brian Welch was.  But the headline in our local paper read, "Simpsons helped Korn guitarist get clean."

Welch told the reporter, "I was living for myself, just living for the pleasure, doing stuff you know you have no business doing, where your heart is saying, 'No' - cocaine and pills just every night and not having a grip on your drinking, just drenching your liver with alcohol every day.  It ruined everything.  My creativity.  It took my happiness away.  I was just a slave to the high.  So I wanted to turn my life around."

Sound like the story found in every autobiography of nearly every rock performer I've ever read. 

But then something unusual happened to Welch.  He started watching the Simpsons.

His eye was not on Bart or Homer but on next door neighbor, Ned Flanders.

Flanders is portrayed as a Christian man and usually the butt of every joke on the show.

Welch liked the fact that Flanders was always happy.  He wanted his "happy" back.

Welch says, "So I went to church.  And everything came back to life after a few years of going through some soul cleansing...everything - my happiness, my music and my creativity."

Welch actually left the band for a time.  He released a statement saying that he'd "chosen Jesus Christ as his Savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end."

So, as it turns out, the headline in the paper was all wrong.

It wasn't the Simpsons that changed Brian Welch's life.  It was Jesus Christ.

Going to church made the difference.  It usually does.  In worship, God comes and serves all those who come to His house.  He gives gifts of forgiveness and peace.  He speaks His Word and the Holy Spirit works through that Word to create faith so that all who come can embrace Jesus as their Savior and start living the new life in Christ.

Not to quibble but I'd suggest the Welch that he didn't choose Jesus so much as Jesus chose him - see John 15:16.  Still, I get what he's saying.  Welch chose to follow Jesus and to leave the lifestyle of the rich and unhappy behind.

As for Korn, well, I just checked out some of their music at the iTunes store.  Think I'll stick to "I Want To Hold Your Hand!"  But good for Brian Welch just the same.  I hope he keeps going to church, worshipping the Lord, and giving testimony to the power of God's love whenever he gets the chance.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Luther prays!

Dear Lord, I have Your Word and I am in the station that pleases You.  This much I know.  You see all my inadequacies, and I know no help except in You.  Help, therefore, because You have commanded that we should ask, seek, knock and have said that then we shall surely receive, find and have what we need.

From his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How are you doing?

Many years ago I sat through a rant by a pastor who said he was sick of the question, "How are you doing?"

"Why do people ask that question? Do they really care? Do they really care how I'm doing? What if I tell them how I'm really doing? What if I tell them that I'm depressed or angry or unhappy? Do they really want to hear how I'm doing or are they just being polite?"

After his rant, I resolved to never ask him how he was doing.

I'm working my way through Max Lucado's new book, "You'll Get Through This."  Lucado seems to release a new book every year about the time of my birthday and my in-laws are always so kind to give me his books as gifts. 

As I got to page 30, I was a bit surprised to read a personal story about Lucado's wife, Denalyn.  Seems that there was a time when she was dealing with depression.  It was a very difficult time in her life and going to church was challenging because most everyone wants to ask the pastor's wife, "How are you doing?"  Lucado writes: ...she armed herself with honesty and went to church.  If people ask me how I am doing, I'm going to tell them.  She answered each...with a candid, "Not well.  I'm depressed.  Will you pray for me?"

Causal chats became long conversations.  Brief hellos became heartfelt moments of ministry.  By the time she left the worship service, she had enlisted dozens of people to hold up her arms in the battle of prayer.  She traces the healing of her depression to that Sunday morning service.  She found God's presence amid God's people.

There is no doubt that some folks ask, "How are you doing?" without much thought.  They're just making chit-chat.  And there are some people who have such difficult or pressing problems of their own that you probably don't want to share with them a particular problem you're dealing with. 

But I've learned that most of the time, when someone asks me, "How are you today?" they're asking because they're concerned.  They want to know.  They're interested.  And I'll bet if I answered, "Just between you and me, I'm really frustrated today.  Would you mind praying for me? I need the Lord's help getting through this service," that person would pray with me and for me. 

And it's comforting to know that people are praying for us, isn't it? It's a blessing to know that we are loved and that others care for us.  It seems to me that it's worth the risk - at the right time and with the right person to answer with honesty the question, "How are you doing?"

Monday, September 16, 2013

What to do when you're anxious

I found this instruction helpful when I first read it in Kurt Senske's book, "The Calling," two years ago.  I find myself going back to it's instruction again and again.  Thought I share it with any of you anxious types.

We may allow stress, doubt, and anxiety to block out God's still, small voice.  When this happens and it will, do the following:
first, close your eyes and take a deep, cleansing breath to clear your mind.

second, say a quick prayer, perhaps something like, "God, please help me discern how, in this moment, to live the life You intend.

third, focus on the here and now.  Where are you? What is happening? How will you deal with what is presented to you?

1) Take a deep breath

2) Say a prayer

3) Focus on serving someone at this very moment

Friday, September 13, 2013

Consider Yourself Rescued

In looking at Jesus' parable of the Shepherd and the Lost Sheep, I found a parallel with the story Steven Spielberg told in the movie, "Saving Private Ryan."  Why did Private Ryan need to be rescued? Why did you and I need to be rescued? Learn more this Sunday at LICL.  Worship is held at 8 and 10:45 am with Bible classes for all ages taking place at 9:20 am.  Also, our Women's and Men's Ministries kick off their new seasons of study and service tomorrow at 9 am on our campus.  Come and join us! See you this weekend at Life in Christ!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jesus - no hype, just hope

On Tuesday, in the local newspaper, a story touted the record revenue the Arizona Lottery had realized in its just completed fiscal year.  Lots of reason were given for why so many people were buying lottery tickets.  But one shop owner said something that really got my attention:

People have a lot of pressure on their jobs, they are stressed.  They come in (to the store), they buy a lottery ticket, they think maybe they will be able to quit work.  That's probably why the Lottery has been high.  It gives people hope.

I have no doubt the shop owner is correct.  Folks see a million dollar powerball jackpot and begin to imagine living a new life, with all their problems solved and all their hopes and dreams fulfilled.

The hope that a $2 lottery ticket can's kind of unbelievable to me.

I read on a website one day that a person has a better chance of being hit by lighting...of being struck by a car...of catching a foul ball at a baseball game than winning the lottery.

There's another place to shop for hope.  This hope is sure and certain.  And it's free.

Titus 2:13 - while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ...

1 Peter 1:3 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

Hebrews 6:19 - We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Hope for this life and the life to come is rooted in the resurrected Jesus.  The promise of eternity, made possible for you and me through faith in our great God and Savior, serves as an anchor for our soul.  This hope is not built on a longshot, but rests on the merits of Jesus Christ - His suffering for our sins, His victory over sin, death and the devil, and His promise that all who believe in Him will live, even though they die.

There is no problem free life.  Everyone I know is stressed about something - a child's health, a teenager's attitude, a retirement nest egg that has dried up, the loss of a spouse.  And there are endless stories of those who won a lottery jackpot and found that all that money does not solve all of life's problems.

The apostle Paul got it right when he wrote to the Colossians: the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the Gospel that has come to you.

Jesus - no hype, just hope.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Most, if not all major league baseball stadiums have on display the numbers of players that have been retired.  Because the Arizona Diamondbacks are a relatively young team they have only one retired number, that of Luis Gonzales.  When you walk in the stadium and look above the right field fence you'll see Gonzo's #20 prominently displayed.

But there is one more number on display - 42.  Major League baseball retired that number in 1997.  That's the uniform number of Jackie Robinson.

I will never look at that number in quite the same way ever again.

My dear, sweet wife and I watched the movie, "42," last weekend.  It is an amazing story, expertly told.

Robinson played a little before my time.  I didn't really start following baseball until about the time Robinson retired.  I knew he broke the color barrier for baseball and helped to make it possible for other black athletes to play in something other than the Negro baseball leagues.

But I didn't fully appreciate or even understand the kind of abuse he suffered - from the general public, from baseball fans, from other players (including his own teammates) and from managers of other teams.

"42" is not so much a movie about baseball as it is about pride and perseverance.  The determination of Robinson to go out and do his job in the face of such prejudice and hatred was inspirational.  The same goes for Branch Rickey, who would not bend in his belief that all players, no matter their color, should be given the same opportunities to play the game.

If you haven't seen "42" yet, check it out.  It is an amazing story.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Asleep in Jesus

What does it mean to be "asleep in Jesus?" We'll explore that theme tomorrow at the Memorial Service for Pastor Maynard Schneider.  The service begins at 11 am and a reception for family and friends will follow.  On Sunday we'll follow our usual schedule with worship at 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) Hour at 9:20 am.  Join us this weekend at Life in Christ! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What good is Christ?

A minister is a slave for Christ.  He should be ruled by his Lord, (moved) by the Holy Spirit and filled with a great passion to serve His cause.  And that means also to be filled with a passion to serve and help the people for whom the Redeemer laid down His life.  Christ is a real Redeemer for real sinners.

Bo Giertz

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Prove It!

"Prove it!" They're words heard on the playground, in the courtroom or in the laboratory.  It's the demand we make of anyone who states a fact of which we are more than a little skeptical.

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul is writing to people who are new to the Christian faith.  They are exploring the truths of God's Word.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit they are growing in faith and love - for God and for one another.  But becoming followers of Jesus Christ has not made their lives easier.  Faith in Christ has not insulated them from suffering for persecution.

In chapter five, Paul make it clear that God uses life's trials and troubles for our benefit: "...suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  Then Paul goes on to explain why we can trust God to do this work in us.

"But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  You see, God has already been at work for us, securing our salvation in Christ's sacrificial suffering, death and resurrection.  He has proven His love by offering His only begotten Son to pay the penalty we've earned for our disobedience.  Knowing God's great "Prove It!" helps us to trust Him every day of our lives.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Laboring on Labor Day

I got inspired to start something I've been wanting to do for a long time - write my own Basics of the Christian Faith materials.

The Basics class is one I teach to those who come to Life in Christ with an interest of joining our church or wanting to know what we believe and teach.

Most of the folks who come to the class have little to no church background.  For some, a Bible verse like John 3:16 is a revelation.

For the Basics class I've been using a book that I was introduced to during my Vicarage year.  It has worked well.  But the book is a bit dated and I've found over time other Bible verses and examples that teach the faith we believe and confess pretty well. 

It will take a little time to finish this project.  But teaching the Basics class is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my call.  I love to watch people as they begin to grasp and know God's love for them in Jesus Christ.  PTL!