Monday, June 30, 2014

Stick to what you know

Some people should stick to what they know.

Like Elton John.

He was recently quoted that "Jesus would have supported gay marriage."


I looked to see how many times Jesus spoke in support of gay marriage.

What I found was this, from Mark 10:6-9: At the beginning of creation God "made them male and female."  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.

God's doctrine for marriage is clear.  One flesh.

There is nothing said by Jesus in the Gospels that offers support for marriage other than the way that God intended.


Elton John knows music.  He does not know God's Word or God's plan for men and women.

He should stick to what he knows.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A life-changing experience

Many of us like to hear life-changing stories.  They often inspire even thrill us.  Do you have such a story to tell? St. Matthew did and if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have a life-changing story to tell as well.  Come and learn more this Sunday at Life in Christ.  Worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am with classes for all ages at 9:20 am.  Or, if you have plans this weekend, check out our Saturday service that will be held today at 5 pm.  Pastor Dave Darling will preach and communion will be celebrated.  Have blessed weekend! Hope to see you soon at LICL!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Looking ahead

We had a wonderful time at our Meet and Greet event at Life in Christ last night.  Our congregation had the opportunity to see the candidate for our Associate Pastor position, a young pastor and his family.

We were all impressed with this pastor's sincerity.  He loves the Lord and demonstrated a sense of real joy as he talked about telling others of Jesus' compassion and love.  He is very gifted but also very humble.  He gave us all the sense that he could complement the ministry of our church as opposed to being something of a maverick who might seek to pursue his own agenda rather than helping the church seek to full its mission statement.

Our congregation will hold a Voters Meeting in a couple of weeks to decide whether or not to call this individual as Associate Pastor.  We'll be praying for the Holy Spirit's direction and guidance as we consider this call.  We know that this pastor will be doing the same.  Won't you join us?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

God gave everything

Rev. Richard Lauersdorf is one of my favorite devotional writers.  In two short sentences Lauersdorf provides the motivation for another day.

In His great love, God gives everything He had so that I might have everything I need.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable love!

From "Together With Jesus," Dec. 25 devotion

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Oh, what a merciful God!

From a 1926 devotional book...

Oh, what a merciful God! I am saved, my transgression is forgiven, my sin is covered, I have been reconciled to God in Christ, my mediator and redeemer.  Jesus, Thou art mine forever - heaven is mine!

Let that thought send you into your day!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A prayer for your pastor at the beginning of Bible class

This piece of advice is courtesy of CFW Walther, from the introduction to "Law and Gospel."

I want you to come breathing a silent prayer in your heart that God may grant us His Holy Spirit abundantly, that you would profitably hear, and that I would effectively teach.

"Law and Gospel" is a series of Friday night lectures that Walther gave to seminarians preparing for the parish ministry.  Walther believed and taught that in order to read the Bible properly, one must be able to distinguish between the two great message in the Bible - law and Gospel.  These lectures are required reading for Lutheran pastors - not just once but throughout their ministry.  Failure to get law and Gospel straight will leave listeners confused regarding the gift of their salvation which is given by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone without any works or efforts of our own.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Putting it into perspective

As the game neared its end, I thought I was witnessing a moment that was as significant as when the USA hockey team upset the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic Games.

As the clock wound down in stoppage time we began to chant, "USA! USA! USA!"

Then, suddenly, Portugal had the ball.  Then, seemingly, in the blink of an eye, that ball found its way past goal keeper, Tim Howard, and into the back of the net.  The game was tied 2-2.  And that's how it ended.

When does a tie feel like a loss?

When you let in the tying goal on the last play of the game.

When six points becomes four and your automatic placement in to the round of 16 has to be earned by winning or tying one more game.

When you realize that it's possible that your team, the USA, might not get out of their group.

So I listened to the talking heads after the game.  Many kept saying, "If you'd told the USA team that they would have 4 points after two game in the tourney, they would have gladly taken it."

Such talk didn't make me feel any better.

So I felt sick last night.  Thankfully, Robert Fulghum has helped me put all of this into perspective.

Fulghum once wrote, "If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you've got a problem.  Everything is is inconvenience."

The world has bigger problems and, come to think of it, I have bigger problems than the play of the USA Soccer Team at the World Cup.

All this really means is that the team has one more meaningful game to play on Thursday.  Hopefully, they'll qualify.  But it won't be the end of the world if they don't.

I still have meaningful work to do.  We have a candidate for serving as Associate Pastor coming in to visit our church this week.  I'll be leading our Cancer Support Group and offering the encouragement and hope of the Lord to those who are suffering.  There are people to speak to who are interested in becoming part of our church family.  There are others in the family who I haven't seen for a while so they need to be contacted.  There's another sermon to write and another Bible study to be put together.  Sounds like a busy week is on the books.

So, yeah, the Soccer Team ended up with a tie when victory was within their reach.

But my wife and kids still love me, my grandkids adore me, and God the Father gave His Son, Jesus, to be my Savior.

I think it's going to be a pretty good week after all.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

There is a difference!

The apostle Paul writes to the Romans, "There is no difference for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  That's the reality - all who have ever lived have been or are a part of this very inclusive club.

How do we relinquish our membership.  Look to the One who never received an invitation to join.  Find out more this Sunday at Life in Christ.  Worship services are held at 8 and 10:45 am (Holy Communion will be celebrated at the later service).  Summer Sunday school, Junior Hi, Senior Hi and Adult classes begin at 9:20 am.

Or if you have plans for Sunday, check out our Saturday Vespers service at 5 pm.  Deacon Jerry Klink has prepared a wonderful message that will encourage you.  Whatever you plan to do, we look forward to seeing you this weekend at LICL!

Friday, June 20, 2014

It seems so clear.

The USA Today reported that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted Thursday to redefine Christian marriage in the church constitution as the union of "two people" instead of " a man and a woman."

Genesis 2:24 reads, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

It's interesting that at the very beginning of creation, God establishes the doctrine of marriage.  Jesus restates this doctrine in the Gospels.  It's a very specific teaching.  A man...a woman.  It's seems so clear.

What also seems clear is that a number of church bodies have forsaken the clear teaching of Scripture to instead fall in line with the culture, a culture that will use any sort of guide so long as it is not God's Word.

My church body - the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod - is clearly out of step with today's culture.

Praise the Lord!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Joy - in spite of troubles

The conversion of the man formerly known as Saul - you know him as the apostle Paul - is one of the most amazing in all of Scripture.  On the Damascus Road the risen Christ changed Saul's life.  Before that miraculous moment of grace, Saul preached "murderous threats against the Lord's disciples."  (Acts 9:1).  After being cared for by the disciples, Acts 9:20 reports that, "At once he (Saul) began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God."  Saul had been saved by grace.  His heart is now filled with joy.  He gladly and eagerly testifies that Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father.

Not everyone shared in his joy.  In Acts 9:23 we read, "After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him (Saul)."  And in 9:29, "He (Saul) talked and debated with the Grecian Jews but they tried to kill him."

Unfortunately, the world doesn't always share in the joy of a heart who has embraced the gracious invitation of Jesus to "Follow me!"  You might know of individuals who have received the gifts of forgiveness and salvation in Christ, and, in turn, have been shunned by family members...have been persecuted by co-workers...have been excluded from participating in neighborhood or other activities.  Have you ever suffered persecution for following Christ Jesus?

Becoming a Christian does not guarantee a problem-free, stress-free life.  In fact, we might experience what it means to suffer as our Savior God suffered.  Jesus taught, "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world."  Jesus has overcome every trial, every temptation that you might ever face.  The cross and empty tomb give testimony of His victory over sin and evil.  His victory is ours.  We believe in our Savior.  He give abundant life, eternal life.  The Lord changed Saul's life.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God is forming and shaping your life.  Keep on trusting and following Christ Jesus.  He will give you great, great joy - no matter how difficult life might be.  Trust Him!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

That's the news! That's the news!

Where'er I go the people say.
  "What's the news? What's the news?"
"What's the order of the day?"
   "What's the news? What's the news?"
Oh, I have got good news to tell
   My Savior has done all things well
He triumphed over death and hell
   That's the news! That's the news!

From an old Welsh hymn

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A prayer of Martin Luther

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled.  My Lord, fill it.

I am weak in faith: strengthen me.

I am cold in love: warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor.

I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust You altogether.  O Lord, help me.  Strengthen my faith and trust in You.

In You I have sealed the treasure of all I have.

I am poor; You are rich and came to be merciful to the poor.

I am a sinner; You are upright.

With me, there is an abundance of sin; in You is the fullness of righteousness.

Therefore, I will remain with You, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give.


Found on the "Internet Monk" blog, date unknown.

Monday, June 16, 2014

These Five Fingers

Found this the other day in a file I keep for illustrations and stories for sermons.  I guess I haven't yet found the right sermon for this story.  It cracks me up, it is so Peanuts.

Lucy comes into the living room to find Linus in control of the TV.  She demands he change the channel.  "What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?" asks Linus.

"These five fingers," says Lucy.  "Individually they're nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold."

"Which channel do you want?" asks Linus.

Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?"

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What's the hardest word to say?

This Sunday I will suggest it's the word, "goodbye."  I've found this is true from my own personal experience.  It can downright hurt to say the word.  The apostle Paul had a knack for saying goodbye in the right way.  We'll see that as we look at the "goodbye" he offers to the church at Corinth in tomorrow's message.  Join us, won't you? Worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am (the VBS kids sing at the later service).  Summer Sunday school and Bible classes will meet at 9:20 am.  Or, if you have plans for Father's Day, check out our Saturday service that takes place today at 5 pm.  Pastor John Pope will preach and Communion will be celebrated.  Have a blessed weekend!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Help me, Doctor! I've Got World Cup Fever!

This world wide epidemic comes around every four years.  It is no respecter of persons.  Young, old, men, women, boys, girls can be stricken.  The symptoms are not deadly.  But people are led to do strange things.

I first came down with World Cup fever in 2006.  Admittedly, it was a mild case and I quickly recovered.  I was stricken again in 2010.  I became nearly delirious when the USA moved into the round of 16.  But that didn't last long.  The country of Ghana made sure of that.

And now I've got the fever again.  For weeks I've had the printed TV schedule for the games.  The time difference between Brazil and here is not very drastic.  It will be very easy to watch the games.  I've got the first three USA group games circled on my calendar.  USA is in the so called "Group of Death" so there's a good chance that they'll play their three games and then be packing their suitcases.

Doesn't matter.  There are other teams to follow, like England.  The Brits are clearly frustrated by the lack of their team's success.  Brazil is the host team and the favorites.  But they were less than impressive in their opening game.  Lots of pressure on them.  Uruguay features one of the world's best and most unpredictable players in Luis Swarez.  Spain are the defending champs and they are definitely loaded with great players to make another run.  And Argentina has the best player in the world in Lionel Messi so they can't be counted out.

However, soccer, er, football, er, footbol is a team sport.  You need 11 good players to make a run at the World Cup.  That's why I don't like Portugal's chances.  Yes, they Renaldo - the second best player in the world.  But one superstar and an average supporting cast usually isn't enough to make it through to the championship game.

Now, if you don't have World Cup fever then you're completely bored reading this or probably checked out a while ago.  Have mercy on me.  I won't be blogging the World Cup for the next four weeks or so.  But I might be a bit distracted.  I might be muttering words and phrases like "4-4-2," "That's wasn't a penalty," or "He put the pass right on his foot."  It's OK.  It's what happens when you've got World Cup Fever!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thursday's Thought to Live By

Talent is God-given;
  be thankful.

Praise is man-given;
  be humble.

Conceit is self-given;
  be careful.

Dave Driscoll, "Quiet Strength," page 215

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The secret of Gregg Popovich's success

Watching San Antonio dismantle Miami last night in the NBA championship series reminded me of a quote from San Antonio's coach, Gregg Popovich.  What he says about coaching applies to any vocation:

Yes, we've developed what we do here.  But that's not enough.  Relationships with people are what it's all about.  You have to make players realize you care about them.  And they have to care about each other and be interested in each other.  Then they start to feel a responsibility toward each other.  Then they want to do for each other.

Quoted in "Sports Illustrated," August 29, 2013, page 67.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Do you have a personal mission statement?

I thought I was attending a time-management seminar.  I thought I would learn some ways to be more organized and effective.  I thought I would leave with some tools that I could use to better order my time.

Instead, the first thing our leader did was to have each of us write our "personal mission statement."  He explained that until a person has a sense of who they are and what they've been called to be and do, time can never really be effectively utilized.  "Time is the most important commodity that anyone has," the leader said.  "But you'll never manage your time wisely until you have defined how and where you are to spend your time."

It dawned on me the other day that the Apostles of Jesus Christ did not need a time-management seminar.  Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, they knew exactly how and where they were to invest their time.  Chapter 5, verse 42 says it all: Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Jesus' followers received their marching orders at Bethany - Go and make disciples of all nations.  Fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, they witnessed to the truth of Jesus' resurrection and salvation to whomever - unbelieving Pharisees and the curious citizens of Jerusalem.  Later on, when severe persecution came upon them, Jesus' disciples continued to speak boldly the Good News that had changed their lives.

Do you have a personal mission statement? Have you ever considered such a thing? Does the church you attend have a mission statement? The LICL mission statement is: Live and Grow in Christ ~ Encourage and Reach others.  This week I think I'll spend a little time thinking how the mission statement above can help me in forming a personal mission statement.  Maybe you can do the same.  It just might make a huge difference in how you spend your time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Story time with Peter Asher

If you're a person of a certain age, you just might know the name, Peter Asher.  He played a part in what was called the "British Invasion" of the 60's when the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dave Clark 5, Herman's Hermits and many other singing groups found rock and roll success in the States.  Peter and Gordon had a number of top 10 hits like "World Without Love," "I Go To Pieces," and "Woman."

My friend, Dan, and I went to the Music Instrument Museum on Friday to spend the evening with Peter Asher.  It was more than a concert - it was like sitting in Asher's living room listening to him tell one story after another about his charmed life in the entertainment business.  He explained how Paul McCartney came to live with his family as Beatlemania exploded; how Paul gave to Peter and Gordon some of the rejected songs McCartney wrote because the Beatles didn't want to record them; how he discovered and produced James Taylor; and how he came to work with some of the biggest names in rock and roll.

Toward the end of the concert Asher told of how he was in his 5th floor bedroom when he heard McCartney call to him to come down to the basement.  Asher was invited to listen to the new song Lennon and McCartney had just written.  It was called "I Want To Hold Your Hand."

Three years ago my dear, sweet wife and I took a walking tour of some famous Beatles sites in London.  We managed to end up in front of the house where Asher and his family used to live. In the first picture you see the window to the basement room where Asher's mother, Margaret, taught music.  It was there that Lennon and McCartney collaborated  on one of their biggest hits.  The second picture shows the Asher home on Wimpole Street.  The very top floor is where Peter's bedroom was (facing the street).  On the back side was McCartney's bedroom.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Do you love water?

A silly question, really.  We can't live without water.  But I think I really learned to love water in the summer of 1969 when I worked in the grape fields in Queencreek, Arizona.  Me and my buddies worked in the summer heat and when we got to take a break and drink from our water jugs, nothing could have tasted as good.

As we celebrate Pentecost this weekend, Jesus invites us to drink the living water He offers.  What can this water do for you?  Well, join us this Sunday and find out.  Worship is held at 8 and 10:45 am and Sunday school and adult Bible class meet at 9:20 am.  Or, if you've got Sunday plans, worship at LICL today at 5 pm.  Deacon Danny Baker will preach and Kevin Svec and his group provide the music.

Have a blessed weekend!

Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6, 1944

One of the best books I've ever read was "D-Day" by Stephen E. Ambrose.  As I worked my way through the telling of what took place on the beach at Normandy, I felt a sense of awe.  The commitment to the assault and the bravery demonstrated by the Allied Forces left me humbled and grateful.  It seems to me that we toss the word, "hero," around very easily these days.  If you want to know about true heroism, read a book like "D-Day."

What was it like on this day in 1944? Pvt. Robert Zafft put it like this: I made it up the hill, I made it all the way to where the Germans had stopped us for the night, and I guess I made it up the hill of manhood.  (page 581).

And then there was this reflection from Sgt. John Ellery: My contribution to the heroic tradition of the United States Army might have been the smallest achievement in the history of courage, but at least, for a time, I had walked in the company of brave men.  (page 582).

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Let me learn by paradox

That the way down is the way up

That to be low is to be high

That the broken heart is the healed heart

That the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit

That the repenting soul is the victorious soul

That to have nothing is to possess all

That to bear the cross is to wear the cross

That to give is to receive

That the valley is the place of vision

"The Valley of Vision" by Arthur Bennett

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

May I Be Completely Faithful Today!

What is daily renewal? It is the continuation of the work of grace that the Holy Spirit began in our souls by justification through faith.  It is the hearty diligence that the believing Christian exercises daily in putting off, more and more, the old man, always striving to avoid error and suppressing sin in himself.  It is the earnest daily effort to put on the new man, growing in doctrine and spiritual wisdom so the Christian becomes conformed more and more to the image of Jesus Christ through words and deeds.

In this daily renewal of the Christian, he must constantly war against his weaknesses and the great corruption in himself in order that they do not rule in him.  Faithless people and those with hypocritical hearts may claim that they strive to become better and more godly, but they still let sin rule over them.  When the true Christian awakens in the morning, his first care, which he takes to God in prayer, is, "Oh, may I be completely faithful today!"

Whoever wants to be a Christian must be able to tell, not only of his former conversion, but also of how the work of God's grace continues daily in his heart.

CFW Walther, "God Grant It," pages 797-798

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wisdom from the Wizard of Oz

Now I know I have a heart...cause it's breaking.

The Tin Man to Dorothy (as she prepared to leave Oz)

Monday, June 2, 2014

A bittersweet countdown

Tomorrow my youngest daughter and my youngest grandson leave for their new home in Wisconsin.  My son-in-law has been there for about 3 weeks now.  He can't wait for the rest of his family to join him.

We're excited for their new opportunity.  It's a step forward in what I'm sure will be a long and successful career for my son-in-law.

But I will miss him a lot, especially when the NFL season arrives in the fall.  We both love football and had a great time watching the games together.  Also, my son-in-law is a master griller and that skill is already missed!

And we will miss our time with our grandson.  Since my daughter is a stay-at-home working mother we've had the opportunity to see our grandson several times a week.  Watching him grow and develop has been a joy for us.

And each one of my kids is very special.  They each are gifted in many different ways and it is exciting for their Mom and I to see them grow both personally and professionally.

Katie is the light of our family.  She brightens every conversation.  Her sense of humor shines.  Her care and compassion for her family and for others illuminates our lives in ways we could have never imagined.  We will miss her so.

So today's a good day for us to be together, to make the most of the day and to give thanks to God for all this time we've had together.  We have many friends whose kids are spread out all over the country.  We've had the blessing of having had them all together.

God is good.  May He go with and bless Josh, Katie and Drew.