Friday, October 31, 2014

Advice to Displaced Youths

Place your hope, joy and love in something that will be available whether you have everything you ever wanted or nothing at all.  Nothing can give you that fulfillment except for faith in Jesus Christ.

Silas Nacita, a football player from Baylor University, who was homeless for three years.  Slept on friends couches, in a park, and in a hotel lobby.  He was interviewed for Sports Illustrated's article, "Young, Gifted and Homeless."  (October 20, 2014 issue).  His advice is spot on for all people of all ages no matter what kind of circumstances - good or bad- are being faced.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The secret to a happy marriage

This quote has been attributed to Martin Luther.  I don't know if the great reformer actually said this but the statement contains great truth: Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

CS Lewis on Christianity

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What's so great about having to keep on praying?

Do not be distressed if you do not at once receive from God what you ask.  He wishes to give you something better - to make you persevere in your prayer.  For what is better than to enjoy the love of God and to be in communion with Him?

From the book, "Tell It Slant," by Eugene Peterson, page 132

Monday, October 27, 2014

Couldn't do it without Dan and Steve

We are Life in Christ are blessed to have so many talented and gifted people who serve our church.  Our children and youth ministry, our music ministry, our serving ministry (to name a few) produce much fruit because of the faithful service of folks who express their love for their Lord and Savior by serving others.

Among those who bless our church so richly are Dan and Steve.

Dan is the maestro of this website.  He serves on our Board.  He leads our IT committee.  He plays a large role in our music ministry.  

There are few people more talented than Dan.  I don't think he even realizes how much he has blessed the ministry of our church (and me).

Steve is one of those quiet guys who often go unrecognized in the church.  But he faithfully runs the sound nearly every Saturday evening and Sunday morning at church.  We've had some trouble recruiting folks to help us with this important task.  But Steve always shows up, always ready to help out.

It's risky singling out a couple of people who serve us so well at Life in Christ.  I could use this blog space for the next several months, writing every day about folks who bless our church with their service.  

It just seemed wise today to make sure that Dan and Steve know that we do not take their service for granted.  

Who do you know in your church that are the "unsung" servants?  Let them know how much they are appreciated.  Sing their praises this week! 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

If you could ask God one question?

What question would you ask God? There are many you could pose but there is only one really essential question.  Come tomorrow and see if you know the one most important question to ask God.  Hint: it's a question that Martin Luther would have asked.  Sunday worship is held at 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) Hour set at 9:20 in the morning.

Or, if Saturday evening works better for you, check out our service today at 5 pm.  Pastor Dave Darling will be preaching and Kevin Svec and his group will provide the music.  Either way, we hope to see you this weekend at LICL!

Friday, October 24, 2014

A trip down memory lane with Pistol Pete

Yesterday, on the Sports Illustrated website, I spent an enjoyable time reading about my second sports hero, "Pistol" Pete Maravich.

I say "second" because as a young baseball player I was all about Yankee great, Mickey Mantle.

It was in high school that Pistol Pete captivated me.  His look, with the long hair and the floppy socks was just so cool and so much different than every other college or pro basketball player.

Think of all the great basketball players of the last 35 years or so - Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James.  None of these guys can compare with Pistol Pete.

Maravich is college basketball's all time leading scorer.  In three years he averaged almost 45 points a game (and this is without the three point line that basketball players enjoy today).  Anytime Maravich crossed the half-court line, he was in shooting range.  His ability to get off a shot at any place and at any angle on the court was amazing.

He was also maybe the greatest ball handler in the history of the game.  His teammates had to be ready at all times on the court because Maravich could pass the ball behind his back, through his legs, or without looking at the one he was passing to - it was just amazing.

His pro career was mostly frustrating.  He was saddled with expectations that no other player (with the exception of LeBron) had ever faced.  His teams usually didn't win and Maravich usually received the blame.  He was accused of hogging the ball, being selfish, only interested in scoring points and nothing else.

It was a sad day for me when Pistol Pete retired from the NBA.

Whenever his teams came to Phoenix I was sure to have a ticket to watch him play.

Once, when the New Orleans Jazz came to town, five of his teammates were hurt in an auto accident.  The Jazz played with only seven players that night.  Everyone thought the Suns would take down a short handed team.

Maravich played the entire game, scored 50 points (yes, that's 5-0, 50) and the Jazz beat the Suns.  It was so exciting to see my hero play such a fantastic game.

After his retirement, word came that Maravich had become a Christian.  He became quite vocal about trusting in Jesus for salvation and eternal life.  Maravich would go anywhere and speak to anyone about the difference Jesus had made in his life.

In fact, Maravich had gone to Southern California in January 1988 to make an appearance on the "Focus on the Family" radio program.  The host, Dr. James Dobson, had invited Maravich to join him and some others in a pick-up basketball game prior to going to the recording studio to tape the program.  And to their surprise, Maravich said "yes" to the invitation.

They had just finished a game when Dobson asked Maravich, "How are you feeling?"  Maravich responded, "I feel great!"  Moment later, Maravich fell in a heap onto the floor.  While one person performed CPR, another called 911 and the rest of the players began praying.  Maravich never regained consciousness.

Oh, by the way, on the day that Maravich died, he was wearing a t-shirt.  It said, "Looking unto Jesus" (from Hebrews, chapter 12).  One day I expect to meet Maravich - in heaven.  It's a wonderful thought -  to be looking unto Jesus with Pistol Pete Maravich, worshipping "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

Thanks for the memories, Pistol Pete!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Talking the talk & walking the walk

Maggie Karner is a marvel.

For 10 years she has been head of LCMS Life and Health Ministries.  In that position she has led our Synod in sanctity of life issues.  She has encouraged congregations to stand firm on Scriptural teachings that show that all life is important and valued by God.  She's been involved in the mercy ministry of the Synod and has helped to establish women's pregnancy centers in Russia and Malaysia.

Maggie Karner has cancer.  She suffers from an aggressive brain tumor for which there isn't a cure.

With such a diagnosis it would be tempting to consider looking at ways of ending her life and stopping the suffering that has come.  A lot of press is being given to a woman named Brittany Maynard who suffers from the same cancer.  She has moved to Oregon and plans to take her own life soon.

Many have labeled Maynard as a courageous person.

To me, Karner is the courageous one.  She has chosen not to see her diagnosis as a death sentence but instead as an opportunity to live each day in the grace and mercy of God.

Karner writes, "As a Christian with a Savior who loves me dearly and who has redeemed me from a dying world, I have a higher calling.  God wants me to be comfortable in my dependence on Him and others, to live with Him in peace and comfort no matter what comes my way."

In fact, Karner sees her situation as a learning experience - for her three daughters.  "I want my girls to learn servanthood and selflessness as they care for me.  And I also want them to know that, for Christians, our death is not the end...Christ's resurrection from that borrowed grave confirms that death could not hold Him, and it cannot hold me either - a baptized child of God!"

I encourage you to read about Maggie Karner on the Synod's website.  Go to, scroll down to "top stories," and look for "Karner responds to terminally ill woman's suicide plan."

You'll be inspired by Karner's confident faith.  You'll want to pray for her.  And for Brittany Maynard too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Prayer Board

My dear, sweet wife has this thing hanging on her wall and it's pretty cool.

She can also probably describe it with one word.  Unfortunately, I can't think of that one word.

What it is? A piece of wood that is covered by a nice piece of fabric.  Then there are five buttons strategically place with strips of ribbon that criss-crosses the board.

The idea is that you can slide pictures or notes or whatever under the pieces of ribbon.  No need for pins or any other sharp objects to hold your stuff to the board.

Have you got the picture? I should take a picture and post it for you but I (alas) don't have time.

Anyway, Sherri has placed pictures of family and friends on this...thing.

I asked her about it one day and she told me it was her Prayer Board.

When she does her daily devotions she looks at the all the pictures on the board and then prays for those people.

Sometimes when we sit down to pray, some of us might have trouble getting started.  We have so many important things to pray about - where to begin?

The Prayer Board provides a starting point.

Not only could you post pictures of family and friends but you could also place pictures of the place where you of your church of the team you play on the the group you practice (fill in the blank) with...well, the list is endless, isn't it?

Anyway, I offer this suggestion for those of you who might find a Prayer Board helpful.

And, if you need a picture of me, just let me know.  I need all the help I can get!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Something to look forward to

stepping onto a shore and finding it heaven

taking hold of a hand and finding it God's hand

breathing new air and finding it celestial air

feeling invigorated and finding it immortality

passing from storm and tempest to an unknown calm

waking and finding it home

Michael Podesta
from "The Walk" by Michael Card, Discovery House Publishers

Monday, October 20, 2014

Table Tennis Anyone?

During my recent visit to Wisconsin I had a chance to play table tennis with my grandson, Drew. And, yes, we are playing table tennis - on the kitchen table.  Mini-net, mini-paddles and regulation ball.  For two years old, Drew is quite good (with Mom's help!)

Mid-game Drew noticed that the net was in need of repair.  He loves, loves, loves his tool bench and puts in endless hours working on many important projects.  Fortunately, with the help of a hammer and screwdriver, Drew was able to make the necessary repairs and the game went on!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A double header!

Deacon Jerry Klink has been my friend for a long time now.  We were friends when we weighed a lot less and could throw up jump shots all day and all night.  Now, Jerry is providing faithful and joyful service to the Lord's church at Life in Christ.  Today, his two youngest grandsons are being baptized at our 5 pm Saturday service.  I will have the privilege to do the baptism and Jerry will proclaim the Word of God based on a message regarding the power of bringing water and Word together to cleanse a person of all unrighteousness.  Kevin Svec and his group will provide the music for us.

On Sunday, worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am and Associate Pastor Marcus Brietbarth will proclaim God's Word to us.  Classes for all ages meet at 9:20 am.  Also, come out and join us for our annual Fall Festival which takes place at 2 pm on our campus.  The Cardinals should have the Oakland game well under control by that time so you won't miss anything! Have a blessed weekend! Hope to see you at LICL!

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Call upon it in every trouble"

So last Sunday I told everyone at church I was cutting up my platinum card to the Worry Store.  And I did.

But that, in and of itself, doesn't help a person deal with worry or anxiety.

Thankfully, Martin Luther gave me some very good advice.

In his explanation to the Second Commandment in the Small Catechism, Luther teaches that we should not misuse the name of the Lord your God but "call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks."

So that's what I've been doing this week.  And it works!

Understand, I'm not surprised that calling on the name of the Lord when anxiety or worry begins to attack is an important thing to do.  I'm surprised that I've not been doing the very thing God invites me to do!

Psalm 50:15 - Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.

That's what the 10 lepers did when they saw Jesus coming their way.

That's what a desperate mother did when she sought healing for her daughter.

That's what a fearful father did when multiple demons had completely taken over his son's life.

So each morning this week during my devotions I've been calling upon the name of the Lord, pouring out my every concern, asking for help and faith and peace.

Each day, whenever I've been tempted to worry about a meeting or a contact or getting something prepared, I've called on the name of the Lord.

Praise God! I've received a sense of peace, peace that the Lord gives.  The Holy Spirit has brought comforting Words from Holy Scripture to my mind, reminding me that the Lord is near and that in my weakness, His strength will empower me to trust and believe.

It's been a wonderful week.  I thought I prayed a lot.  But I haven't prayed as much as I have this week.

And that's good.  I've been reminded again of just how much I need the Lord - His help and power and strength.

Even now, I'm starting to feel anxious.  But there will be no trip to the Worry Store for me today.

Time to retreat to my quiet place, grab God's Word and call on the name of the Lord.

If you're trying to become an ex-Worry Store shopper, try this.  Call on the name of the Lord.  Tell God about your troubles.  Ask Him for just what you need.  Praise Him for His power and compassion.  Give thanks to the Lord for He is good for His mercy endures forever!

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The 80's are coming

In the Valley of the Sun, Fall doesn't begin when the calendar says it should begin.

Fall usually starts about now, in the middle of the month of October.  This is the time when we know that those 100 degree days are behind us and temps are soon to fall into the 80's each day.

This is good news for me.

A few years ago, when I was suffering from some back issues, I found the best therapy for me was walking.  So I took a t-shirt, shorts and my Nike's to work and at noontime I quickly changed clothes and walked up and down the road to the south of the church.

Since Life in Christ is located on a county island (surrounded by the city of Peoria) the homes on Banff Street are built on one and two acre lots.  A number of folks have horses.  Others have goats, chickens and one homeowner has a pot-bellied pig.  And there are dogs - lots of dogs!

It makes for an interesting walk.  And it's an opportunity for good exercise.

I'm on Weight Watchers and I've been watching the numbers on the bathroom scale fall.

Walking will help to keep that weight off.  And walking by myself gives me time to think and pray and give thanks to God for family and work and for the many blessings I've received from His gracious hand.  And I can especially give thanks for Jesus, my patient and loving Lord and Savior.

Sometimes people are led to believe that unless they have some kind of gym membership, they really aren't serious about exercise and fitness.

But that's not true.  I keep reading more and more how a 30 minute walk, three times a week, has all kinds of positive benefits for good health.

Go for it! And maybe I'll see you on the street!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A humble superstar

I read a nice story this morning in the local paper about ASU football player, D.J. Foster.  Anytime he gets his hands on the ball good things can happen.  Whether he's operating as a running back or as a receiver, Foster is explosive and he can make life miserable for defenses that have to stop him.  He will be expected to have a big game against Stanford, a team with one of the best defenses in the PAC 12.

Foster is one of the leaders on the team.  His teammates look up to him and admire him.  And in an age when some collage footballers are seemingly set on promoting themselves (ever heard of Johnny Football?), Foster seems quite unique - a humble superstar.

A friend said of Foster: "D.J. may be the most talented person I know, and when we sat down at a restaurant and I brought up football, I could tell he didn't want any part of it.  He appeased me - knowing I'm a huge sports fan - but everything he said was about his teammates, and there wasn't a single mention of his own accomplishments or accolades.  Not even a humble brag."

When I was growing up I remember my pastor once telling me, "George, when you do things well, you don't have to brag or boast about them.  The people who see your accomplishments and achievements, the people who see you helping others or being nice to people will speak up for you.  Let them do so.  You don't have to toot your own horn.  You've got a whole orchestra playing behind you."

I don't know how or when Foster learned something about being a humble person, focusing not on your his accomplishments but looking for ways to help others.  But I can see a whole orchestra lining up behind him.  I hope he keeps setting this good example for his teammates...and for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This week's daily prayer

O Lord,
as I face what lies ahead of me
be my strength
my guard
my guide in everything I do
Keep me cool
when things heat up
Keep me tender
when I am inclined to be hard
Keep me resilient
when under pressure
Keep me faithful to You
in all things
In the strong name of Jesus Christ

From "Prayers for People Under Pressure"
by Donald L. Deffner, Northwestern Publishing House

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sunday was a good day

The day started with worship.  The choir sang well, the children were engaged during our time together, God's Word offered an equation for dealing with worry and we were fed at the Lord's Table with food that gives the forgiveness of sins.

The Sunday morning Bible class went well.  We are slowly becoming "Trahms-atized," and growing in our desire to witness Christ to the people around us.

Sherri's enchiladas were great and it was wonderful to have the Olohans and Spicers with us.

I was blessed by Ron and LaVonna who gave me a beautiful roll top desk.

I was further blessed by Kirk and his boys who helped me pick up the desk and deliver it to our house.

And I was blessed even more by Kirk and my son, Eric, who had to do major surgery to a bedroom door just to get the desk where we wanted it.

The evening brought with it a time of relaxation - NOT! The St. Louis Cardinals waited until the bottom of the 9th to finely close out a win over the SF Giants.  Can't take too many more nail-biters like that.

The evening ended with Luther's Evening Prayer and a silently sung "Doxology."  Indeed, praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Some math that makes sense

Do you worry sometimes...all the time? Does worry ruin a meal...disturb your sleep...dominate your thoughts? This Sunday the apostle Paul offers all of us worriers some good help.  Can't say more right now but I do invite you to join us for worship.  Sunday services take place at 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) beginning at 9:20 am.

Or, if you prefer a Saturday service, be here at LICL at 5 pm.  Pastor John Pope will be preaching and Holy Communion will be celebrated.  Make worship a part of your weekend activities.  Hope to see you at Life in Christ!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Something to remember as I prepare to preach this Sunday

Is much of the fruitlessness of our preaching that we appear in the pulpit and in the congregation with such gloomy faces? Is not this so often a hindrance for the children and young people of our congregation? I trust we give them stout and faithful instruction; but surely much of what we say to them will be forgotten.  Much would be gained if they simply took with them this impression: a young man or an old man stood up before us; what he told us we did not always understand, but there must be something wonderfully lovely about the Gospel is a person can talk about it so joyfully!

Friedrich von Bodelschwengh, 1935

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A blessed pastor

As I get ready to head home after spending time at our annual pastor's conference, I've come to realize once again just how blessed I've been in over 17 years of ministry.

This week I heard how one pastor was run out of his church by a few folks who were wanted the pastor to know who was boss.

Another pastor told of how his church council attempted to remove him because he was making "changes."

There was the pastor who shared that he had to resign from a call because of all the pressure a few leaders place on his wife.  The church thought that they were getting two church workers for one paycheck.  When it didn't work out that way, the leaders made life miserable for the pastor and family.

As for me, the leaders at Life in Christ have been nothing but supportive.

They've been willing to make changes when it seemed that the changes would help our church to better serve our people and community.

They've never expected my dear, sweet wife to be an unpaid employee or to teach Sunday school, lead VBS, organize every pot luck, etc.  They've allowed her to simply find her place in the church and to joyfully serve the Lord where it seemed best for her.

How blessed I am to be able to serve at a church where there is mutual respect and love and a desire to witness Christ to our community and world.  Praise the Lord - I have no horror stories to tell.  Yes, I am a blessed pastor.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A holy place no more

I attended a worship service last night at a church in Southern California.

From the outside it was a very nice looking church facility.

But I was so discouraged when I went inside the building.

The chancel, the place where the altar usually resides, had been turned into a stage of sorts.

There were all kinds of guitars, keyboards, drums and at least 3 mic stands for vocalists.

The altar? It was sitting in the front of this area, lost in the midst of all the other stuff.

Now, I'm not against using other musical instruments in worship.  It doesn't have to be an organ or nothing.

But to take an area which in the church serves as a reminder where God comes to us and distributes His precious gifts to us and to turn it into a place for performance was really discouraging.

I pray that such a thing never happens at Life in Christ.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A sentence I wish I'd wrote

Life's value is most apparent when I look at the price God paid for it.

Richard Lauersdorf, "Together with Jesus," September 22 devotion

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Have you been Trahms-atized? It's what happens when you are filled with the joy of witnessing Christ Jesus to other people.  Pastor Vernon Trahms, who helped to shepherd the congregation I serve in its early days, has made it a centerpiece of his ministry to help and encourage believers to witness Christ Jesus so that more come to know and trust in the Lord's forgiveness, mercy and salvation.

This Sunday, during our Bible class hour at 9:20 am, I'll lead a series of studies on how to witness Christ in every day life.  Come and check it out.  Sunday school, Confirmation classes and Hi School Youth meet at the very same time.

Also, on Sunday, our new Associate Pastor, Marcus Breitbarth will preach for the first time at LICL.  We are looking forward to his preaching ministry at our church.  Sunday services take place at 8 and 10:45 am so come and worship with us.

Or, if you prefer a Saturday service, join us at LICL at 5 pm for a Matins Service.  Deacon Jerry Klink will be preaching.

Enjoy your weekend! Come and see us at Life in Christ!

Friday, October 3, 2014

When did God think of you?

From eternity, before the universe was formed and there was not even a single angel to give Him praise, God thought of us.

John A. Moldstad, "Predestination," page 27, Northwestern Publishing House

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Heart-felt words

"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, You are mine forever - heaven is mind!"

From the 1926 devotional, "Daily Bread," by F.E. Pasche

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Don't worry!

Ain't no sense worrying about things you got control over, because if you got over them, ain't no sense worrying.  And there ain't no sense worrying about things you got no control over either, because if you got no control over them, ain't no sense worrying.

Former baseball player, Mickey Rivers