Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas is...CHRIST!

Our local paper's editorial for today is "Christmas in an Onion."

There are many layers to an onion, right? In the same way, Christmas is like an onion.  Keep pealing the layers away and more of Christmas is revealed in all its beauty and charm.

Well, OK.

But, really, that editorial misses the point.

Christmas is...

A newly married couple making a long trip and arriving just in the nick of time.

The lowest of the low - shepherds - who get the privilege of hearing the greatest news delivered on high by a heavenly army.

A little town that is oblivious to the great thing that is taking place right under their collective noses.

A word from one of God's messengers: "Born to you in the city of David a Savior - He is Christ the Lord!"

The baby in the manger.

The name, Jesus, which means, "The Lord saves."

To be sure Christmas is about family and friends and peace and understanding and love.

But who delivers these things?

The God who sent His Son in the world to be Savior.

Jesus lives up to His name.

We who were separated by sin have been reconciled to almighty God.

It could have only happened if a perfect sacrifice could be offer that would pay for our imperfect lives.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice.  And on the third day He rose again - the perfect payment for you and me.

Now, we have been justified by grace through faith in the Christ child.

We are at peace with God.

We are free to live as God's dearly loved people.  We  are free to love God and to love and serve each other.

That's why we celebrate this day.  That's why we celebrate and give thanks every day.




Have a very Merry Christmas!

BTW, I'm taking my annual Christmas blog vacation - I'll be back on January 6th.  Thanks to all of you who check in from time to time to see what's going on with me and my family and our church.

God be with you.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Do you hear what I hear?

Tonight at Life in Christ you'll hear...

Our children tell and show the CHRISTmas story.

Beautiful music performed by our Adult Choir, Bell Choir, Soloists and Instrumentalists.

People greeting one another with hugs and a hearty "Merry Christmas!"

The Word of God read and proclaimed with the good news of God's promise fulfilled - Christ the Lord has come!

Paul wrote to the Romans: "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"

God has graciously given us: believe and trust in Jesus alone for forgiveness and eternal life. live each day in confidence that our Father has adopted us into His kingdom through baptism and treats us as His dearly loved children. look beyond present circumstances or problems while knowing that if we have Jesus we have all we need - today and tomorrow and for eternity.

Join us at Life in Christ as we celebrate and give thanks for the gift God has given to us - His Son.

Our Children's Service begins at 5 pm while our Candlelight Services take place at 7 and 9 pm.

Merry Christmas and God bless you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It happened!

The angel's message is simply what happened - a birth - and the identification of the one born - "a Savior who is Christ the Lord." Impossible? No, it has happened.  God did not have to wait for clearance from us whether it is possible or not.  It happened.  A Savior born, Christ the Lord.

A re-post from the Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel, Christmas 1975.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top Ten Steve Harvey Award Gaffes

You know about the Miss Universe contest.  Here are some others that have gone unreported.

10) The National Mother of the Year Award winner - Kim Kardashian!

9) The Fortune Magazine Business Person of the Year award - the owners of Chipotle Restaurants!

8) The Boxer of the Year is...Rhonda Rousey!

7) The winner of the Barack Obama Courage in Leadership Award goes to - Barack Obama.

6) The Center of Public Integrity Person of the Year Award - Hillary Clinton!

5) Introducing the President of the United States - Bernie Sanders!

4) The Winner of Dancing with the Stars - Paula Deem!

3) Your Super Bowl Champions - The Dallas Cowboys!

2) The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to - Donald Trump!

And the number one Steve Harvey Award Gaffe:

The New President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod - George Spicer!

Why Advent?

I wish I had posted this earlier.  Again, something that I wrote in one of my journals.

This Advent Season it's time to kneel a little closer to Jesus' crib and beneath His cross...there I'll hear the best news ever of how God sent Jesus to bring double payment for my sins.

"Together with Jesus" by Richard E. Lauersdorf, December 3 devotional, Northwestern Publishing House

Monday, December 21, 2015

On the Nativity of Christ

I've posted the following before - it comes from the biography, "Here I Stand." (page 354)

Many in the congregation think to themselves, "I only I had been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby! I would have washed His linen.  How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger!

Yes, you would! You say that because you know how great Christ is, but if you had been there at that time you would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem.  Childish and silly thoughts are these!

Why don't you do it now? You have Christ in your neighbor.  You ought to serve him, for what you do to your neighbor in need you do to the Lord Christ Himself.

Martin Luther

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Live and Grow in Christ - Worship!

How does one live and grow in Christ.  For starters, being in worship every weekend is priority number one.  God serves us in worship.  Isn't that interesting? Worship is not something we do for God.  Worship is the time and place where God gives us His gifts of mercy and grace.  We hear that God forgives our sins.  We receive peace with God through that precious message of absolution.  We hear God speak to us through His Word.  Faith is strengthened and hearts are comforted.  We come to His Holy Supper and receive a foretaste of what life will be like in heaven.  And yes, in worship we respond to God's grace and mercy.  We sing our praises.  We give our tithes and offerings.  We seek God's help as we pray our petitions for ourselves and others.  Renewed and refreshed, we go back out into the world, looking to love others as Jesus has loved us.

Join us this weekend at LICL.  Saturday worship takes place at 5 pm; Sunday services are held at 8 and 10:45 am and Bible classes for all ages are held at 9:20 in the morning. 

Hope to see you at Life in Christ!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars!

Our friends called us one afternoon in May 1977 and asked if we wanted to go with them to see a film that they had seen the night before.

"A movie so good you want to see it again, right way?" I asked.  "What's the name of this film?"

"Star Wars!" our friends enthusiastically replied.

They said, "We'll go to the 9 o'clock showing.  Pick you up at 6 pm."

"What? Why are we going so early?" I asked.

I learned that we would be standing in line during the 7 pm show so we could get in at 9 o'clock.

I remember my last comment: "This had better be good."

It was.

I couldn't remember the last time I'd had so much fun at a film.  I could relate the the frustrations of Luke Skywalker.  He didn't want to be a farmer.  He wanted to be a fighter pilot.

I loved the humor and sarcasm of Han Solo.  I wanted to be that guy in high school.  But I didn't have an ounce of Han's DNA in my body.

And Princess Leia - well, it didn't hurt your eyes to look at her.  And she was not to be messed around with.

Now, Luke, Han and Leia are back with a new cast of characters.  And "The Force Awakens" is receiving rave reviews.  It looks like the word, "blockbuster" can be applied to this film.

My dear, sweet wife and I are taking a week off following Christmas Day services.

What will we do? Star Wars has shot to the top of the to-do list.

But I'll be looking to find the film running multiple times at some mega-theatre complex.

I'm too old to sit in a line for several hours just to see a movie.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Come and see

Nathanael said to Philip, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip answers, "Come and see."  (John 1:46)

Nathanael's question still lingers, even two thousand years later.  Is the life of the young Nazarene really worth considering?

The answer of Philip still suffices.  "Come and see."

Come and see the rock that has withstood the winds of time.  Here his voice...the truth undaunted...grace unspotted...loyalty undeterred.

Come and see the flame that tyrants and despots have not extinguished.

Come and see the passion that oppression has not squelched.

Come and see the hospitals and orphanages rising beside the crumbling ruins of humanism and atheism.  Come and see what Christ has done.

Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Come and see.  Come and see the changed lives: the alcoholic now dry...the embittered now joyful...the shame now forgiven.

Come and see the marriages rebuilt, the orphans embraced, the imprisoned inspired.

Journey into the jungles and hear the drums beating in praise.  Sneak into the corners of communism and find believers worshiping under the threat of death.

Walk on death row and witness the prisoner condemned by man yet liberated by God. 

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Come and see the pierced hand of God touch the most common heart, wipe the tears from the wrinkled face, and forgive the ugliest sin.

Come and see.  He avoids no seeker.  He ignores no probe.  He fears no search. 

Come and see.  Nathanael came.  And Nathanael saw.  And Nathanael discovered: "Teacher, You are the Son of God; You are the king of Israel."

From "The Gift For All People," by Max Lucado, pages 49-51, published by Multnomah

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Repent and rejoice and repeat

This is the constant cycle and life of the Christian whether it is Advent or Christmas, Lent or Easter, a wedding or a funeral.  Repent and rejoice and repeat.  Love your neighbor and fail and be loved by Christ and then love your neighbor and fail and be loved by Christ and again and again and again.  The only hope for us, the only way we will be saved, is if Christ Himself has kept the Law for us and puts Himself on us.  Thanks be to God, that is exactly what He has done in His death and resurrection, and He has bestowed it upon us in Holy Baptism.  To put on the Lord Jesus Christ is to be baptized and to commune and to be absolved.

David H. Petersen, "God With Us" page 22, Emmanuel Press

Saturday, December 12, 2015

We light the "joy" candle

It's the third Sunday in Advent so we light the pink or "joy" candle on our Advent wreath.  The Scripture readings speak of the joy we have in Jesus.  Come and learn more at...

Our 5 pm service today or our 8 and 10:45 am services tomorrow.  We'd love to see you at LICL!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Top 10 Signs That You're At A Bad Wedding

10) When just before the service the groom asks to go to the bathroom...and never comes back.

9) When instead of saying, "You may kiss the bride," the pastor says, "Get 'er done!"

8) When the groom and the bride's father get into a fist fight as the bride is given away.

7) When the photographer is asking people, "Anybody got some Kodak film?"

6) When the bride is escorted down the aisle to the tune of "Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted."

5) When the invitation indicates that the reception is being held at the Golden Corral.

4) When the music at the reception is being provided by "Al Jones and his Happy Accordian."

3) When the pastor asks the groom for the license and the groom replies, "Hunting or fishing?"

2) When the service stops just before the vows are said because the bride goes into labor.

And the number one sign that you're at a bad wedding:

1) When the service begins late because the groom couldn't make bail!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Going to the game!

I prefer to watch football from the comfort of my couch.

I can see every play (and maybe see it three or four times).  There are no lines to stand in.  I can easily get to the fridge for refreshments and I don't have to pay 10 bucks for a little popcorn.

But tonight I'm going to the Cardinals and Vikings game.

My friend, Dan, is a long time, very passionate Vikings fan.  When he spotted this game on the Cardinals schedule he began making plans to visit.

Thanks to my son in law, Josh, we got a couple of lower bowl tickets for free.  We might be sitting near the section where Cardinals coaches and players wives and girlfriends will be located.

I guess we'll be able to identify them from "the bling."

Obviously, Dan and I will be rooting against each other.

Hopefully, it will be a happy drive home...for me.

Go Cardinals!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Maybe this should happen more often

Last Thursday evening I started to come down with a cold. I stayed home Friday and rested.  Felt better on Saturday.  Taught a membership class session, took care of some things I would have done on Friday and went home.

Then, quite suddenly, something happened that I had not planned for.

I started losing my voice.

I wasn't too concerned.  I figured with a good night's rest I'd be in strong voice by morning.

Boy, was I wrong.

I could barely croak.  Fingernails on chalkboards would have been a more pleasant sound.

I thought, "This is really going to be a disaster.  Who in the world is going to get anything out of my sermon?"

Turns out, lots of people did.  In fact, the feedback for the sermon was as positive as any I've given in 10 years at Life in Christ.

Turns out that because my voice was so weak and scratchy people really had to listen to what I was saying.

With people dialed in, God's message of bad news and good news, of Law and Gospel, was heard.

The Law condemns. The Gospel saves.

And as long as the two great messages of the Bible are proclaimed, in just that order, listeners will hear and rejoice in God's great love for them in Christ Jesus.

Even if the speaker has no voice at all.

And maybe that's very good.

Then, the people will hear the voice that really counts - God's voice as heard through His Holy Word.

Monday, December 7, 2015

And all through the house

Our cat, Glory, loves to hang out under the Christmas tree.  She wouldn't mind if we kept the tree up all year.

Our other cat, Tiddy, has staked out a hiding place in the deepest recesses of our bedroom closet.  He doesn't like the little ones who are staying with us this month.

My youngest daughter, Katie, and her youngest son, Duke (6 months old) are hunkered down on one of the Lazy-Boy recliners.  Duke loves nothing more than to sleep on his Momma's chest.

Katie's other son, Drew (3 years old) is sitting in front of the tv watching "Handy Manny" on the Disney Channel.  He also has his own set of Handy Manny tools.  Katie found them at a yard sale and bought them for a pittance.  On line these tools are really expensive - they must cost as much as real tools!

Sherri is in the kitchen making cookies for the Bible class she teaches to nursing students at GCU.  It is probably the best part of the day.

Me? Getting ready to get in the shower and go to work.  Caught the cold bug that Drew and Duke brought from Wisconsin.  Barely able to squeak out the sermon yesterday.  Another busy week is set with meetings to plan for, a sermon to write and friends coming into town for the Cardinals/Vikings football game (go Cardinals!).

God bless your week (and your house)!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What does new life look like?

How might we keep the Law and love one another without fail, without holding back? Setting our will to do it or making promises or resolutions has never worked before, and it won't work now.  How might we keep the Law which we've never yet kept before? But putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is it.  It is the only way.  It is in being loved, being forgiven, being fed the Holy Supper that not only is sin forgiven but faith is also strengthened.  In that  - those things that God has given for His church, for her faith and life - the Holy Spirit takes up residence and works do follow.  The only way for sinners like us to keep the Law is to have the Law kept for us.

From "God With Us, Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Sermons" by David H. Petersen.  Page 22.

Worship at Life in Christ this weekend - Saturday at 5 pm & Sunday at 8 and 10:45 am.  Bible classes for all ages take place at 9:20 am.

Have a blessed weekend!

Friday, December 4, 2015

God could fix this mess

The New York tabloid headline screams out: "God Isn't Fixing This."  This in response to the last mass murder that took place earlier this week in California.

It almost seems accusatory - God's isn't fixing this situation and He is powerless to do so.  So, wise people that we are, we should take matter into our own hands.

It seems to me that the very problem is that society has taken matters into its own hands and has left God on the sidelines.

Our society want to do things its own way.  Society doesn't want God's help or direction.

This is society's attitude in spite of the fact that God is the author of life.

Jeremiah 1:5 - "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart."

Psalm 139:16 - "Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."

God cares for His created beings.  All of us.  But God's compassion and care has been rejected by a society that acts as if it knows better.

I believe the slide began when abortion became a legal thing.

In that moment we said, "Life is just not that important anymore."

This was followed by physician assisted suicide.

And we said, "Life is just not that important anymore."

And if life isn't important, something to be valued, then doesn't it just stand to reason that some will think less and less about taking a life?

God could fix this mess we're in.  He's been changing the hearts and minds of people since creation.

But society doesn't really want God's help.

Still, what can we do but pray, "Lord, have mercy.  Lord, help us.  Lord, save us."

Come, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wisdom from CS Lewis

When you argue against Him (God) you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting of the branch you are sitting on.

From "Mere Christianity"

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

God and sinners reconciled!

What a joy to watch the 50th anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" last night on ABC.  One television critic called the program one that "never gets old."  Perhaps it's a timeless program because it features a timeless message.

Yes, the message.  Charlie Brown wants to know what is the meaning of Christmas.  He can't believe Christmas is all about glitz and glitter, about the fake and the artificial.  It can't be about aluminum Christmas trees and prizes for the best decorated house (or dog house!), Charlie reasons.

Linus has the answer Charlie Brown is seeking.  And in a day and time in which the world seems determined to bury the answer, Linus proclaims it with all confidence.  "For born to you this day in the city of David is a Savior; He is Christ the Lord."

Following that good news message the program ends with Charlie and his friends singing, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."  Although I've sung the hymn more times than I can remember, this time around I was struck by the line, "God and sinners reconciled."

This is the reason for the birth of Bethlehem's child.  Sin separates people from God.  Since all people are sinners, all need to be reconciled to our Maker and Creator.  We needed to be reconciled to God. The problem - we can't do it ourselves.

Who is the person who works to help bring people back together? A counselor.  A counselor helps people work out their differences.

That's Jesus.  Remember Isaiah's prophecy in chapter nine?  "And He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Jesus reconciles a perfect God with perfectly imperfect sinners.  Our situation was hopeless.  Jesus brings hope.  Like Adam and Eve we were the cast-out ones.  Now we can approach God.  He calls us His own.  We belong to His kingdom.  All because of the forgiveness and new life that Jesus has worked for us.

I pray that "A Charlie Brown Christmas" goes on for another 50 years.  In a world filled with bad news this is one program that delivers the good news that we can use.  We are reconciled to God! Amen!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Oops, forgot one

Yesterday I wrote about the holiday themed movies that my family watch each year.  My youngest daughter pointed out to me last night that I'd forgot one - "The Preacher's Wife" - starring Denzel Washington and the late Whitney Houston.  The film always reminds me of just what a great singer Whitney Houston was.  And she did it so effortlessly! Anyway, add that film to the list.

Otherwise, Life in Christ will have a communion worship service today at 5 pm and two services tomorrow at 8 and 10:45 am.  Sunday school for all ages and adult Bible class meets at 9:20 am. Come and join us this weekend at LICL!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Movies, movies, movies!

My youngest daughter and her family are staying with us for the holidays.  As she was unpacking their clothes and gear she presents to me a small container.  "What's in here?" I ask.  "Movies, Daddy. It's our tradition!"

So in the next four weeks we'll be watching...

"The Nativity Story," a telling of Joseph and Mary's journey to Bethlehem.

"The Holiday" Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslett trade homes for the holidays.  The swap brings with it unexpected blessings.

"Home Alone" While his family is in Paris, a young boy more than survives while outfoxing a couple of bumbling thieves.  Macaulay Culkin becomes a star!

"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" I prefer the edited version of this film.  Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) wants to have a good old family Christmas.  The results are disastrous.  

"Love Actually" This is Richard Curtis' best film.  The message is simple - the meaning of Christmas is love.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" The word, "classic" is often overused.  But not in this case.  This is a classic, the best Christmas program you'll watch this season.  The producers did not want Linus to speak, word for word, the Christmas story found in Luke, chapter two.  Charles M. Schultz dug in his heals and insisted.  I'm glad he did.

Tis the season to be super busy. I hope you'll find the time to sit down with your family and friends and enjoy your favorite Christmas films.  Make sure there's plenty of popcorn!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What is pride?

Define "pride" as the sinful nature to advance one's self.

Nathan R. Pope, "Motivation for Ministry," page 25

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Day Off

Monday is my day off and it was a fun and productive day.

8:30 am - Golf with one of our Deacons, Danny Baker.  We've been playing together for a number of months now (although we did take a summer break - too hot to play golf!) and really enjoy a nine hole course in Glendale.  We've probably played our worst round yesterday and still had a good time.

10:15 am - A quick look-see of the book section at my favorite Savers store. No bargains were to be found.

11:30 am - Doctors appt.  At least no blood was taken this time!

12:30 pm - Lunch while watching an episode of "New Tricks," a British detective show that I've come to rally enjoy.

1:30 pm - Power Nap!

2:00 pm - I spent a couple of hours looking over the Advent texts I'll preach in December and have come up with a tentative sermon series entitled "The News at Advent."  The working titles for each of the texts:

  "You have to hear the bad news to appreciate the good news" - Dec. 6
  "There's more to the news than meets the eye" - Dec. 13
  "The news makes you jump for joy" - Dec. 20
  "The best news of all" - Dec. 24

4 pm - I continued reading a book entitled, "The Girl on the Train," by Paula Hawkins.  This thriller spent months at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers List.  I'm starting to see why.

5:30 pm - My youngest daughter, Katie, her husband, Josh, and their two kids are spending the Thanksgiving holiday with us.  We enjoyed dinner together and playing with the two grandbabies. Josh and I also watched the second half of Monday Night Football, hoping that New England would be beaten by Buffalo.  Didn't happen.

10 pm - Lights out

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Skateboard

What happens when a fellow who hasn't ridden a skate board in 20 years decides to hop on one for old times sake? Join us tomorrow at our Sunday worship services and I'll tell you.  Just promise not to laugh too hard!

Sunday worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am with Sunday school sandwiched in between.  Or, you can join us this evening at 5 pm.  The Kevin Svec group will be providing the music.

Have a blessed weekend! Hope to see you at LICL!

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Friday Funny Returns!

An energy savvy consumer replaced all the windows in her home.  She had expensive, double insulated, energy efficient window installed.

12 months later, she received a call from the contractor, complaining that the work had been done for a year but she had failed to pay for it.

The consumer replied, "The salesman who sold me those windows told me that in one year they would pay for themselves"

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sermon for Betty Jo Droeg Memorial Service

Betty Jo Droeg Memorial
Martin Luther once said that a thankful heart was the greatest form of worship we could offer to God.
If that is true, then Betty Jo turned a hospital room into a worship center last Friday, November 13.
John Denninger asked if a pastor could go visit Betty Jo at the rehab hospital at Arrowhead.  I was the guy who was contacted.  And I’m glad I was.
I’ve made hospital visits to people I did not know.  It’s in those times when you’re not sure what to expect.  How will the person be feeling? Do they want to be visited? Will they want to talk or will I have to carry the conversation along?
I quickly discovered, as I talked with Betty Jo, that I had no reason to worry.  She welcomed me warmly and was glad I came.  She shared with me about her physical problems.  She hoped to return home soon.
We talked about her husband and what it was like to be a widow.  She spoke about how much she loved her family. 
We also talked about some spiritual concerns she had.  We discussed the importance of forgiveness, remembering that as God has forgiven us for the sins we’ve committed, we, too, are to forgive those who have sinned against us.  We remembered the price Jesus paid to be our Savior, dying on the cross to pay the price for our disobedience and faithlessness.  We rejoiced that God’s salvation is free and that everyone who embraces Jesus, by faith, has eternal life.
As we wrapped up our conversation I asked her if she wanted me to come back and bring my communion kit and she excitedly said, “Yes.”  I promised to see her again.  I’d planned on visiting this past Thursday.
Except that when I called to find out what time I could come as see Betty Jo, the hospital said she’d been discharged.  I thought that was good news! But I soon learned it was anything but good news.
Via a text, Middy told me Betty Jo had been discharged so that she could be admitted to Arrowhead Hospital.  Her health was quickly declining.  Could I come over?
I did so and it was sad to see how much Betty Jo had slipped in just a week.  Middy told me that she had not always been responsive but when I called out to her, she recognized who I was.  I told her I was sorry that she had to be in the hospital. And I expressed again to her how much I had enjoyed our earlier visit and how wonderful it was that I could share the love of Jesus with her.
Then Betty Jo spoke.  Three words.  She said them over and over.  “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”
It was like a litany.  It was a litany of thanksgiving offered to the one most worthy of our thanks and praise, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Betty Jo’s response was not unlike a man who we can read about in the Bible – we find him in St. Luke, chapter 17.
Verse 11 starts out: “Now on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.”  The fact that Jesus was anywhere near the region of Samaria is a huge surprise.  The folks there didn’t like Jewish people.  Jewish people hated Samaritans.  If you were a Jew and traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem, you avoided going anywhere near Samaria.  Why was Jesus so bold?  Here’s why.
Listen to verses 12-13: “As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him.  They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Leprosy, in the time of Jesus, was like having a death sentence placed on your head.  There was no cure for this horrible, disfiguring disease.  The ten men stood at a distance because if you were a leper you were not allowed to come close to anyone.  You lived away from the village, away from family and friends.  You lived until you died.
What does Jesus do? He does what He always does for sincere, hurting people.  He answered their prayer.  He told them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  And as they went, they were cleansed.  Healed.  Free of the horrible disease.
All ten men had their prayer answered by Jesus.  But only one came back to thank Him for the miraculous healing that had taken place.  Listen to verses 15 & 16: “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he (the man at Jesus’ feet) was a Samaritan.
The least likely is the only one who comes back to worship Jesus and to give Him thanks for being made whole again.  And I can just imagine the man, kneeling in the dirt, holding Jesus around His ankles, repeating over and over, “Thank you, Jesus,  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”
Just like Betty Jo.
It was if a floodgate had been opened in that hospital room.  Her thanks to Jesus came cascading over us, leaving Middy in tears and me in awe.
It all came out and I believe Betty Jo was thanking Jesus for:
            Salvation…Mark 10:45 – “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
            Forgiveness…Ephesians 1:7 – “In (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of His grace.”
            Eternal Life…John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I believe Betty Jo was thanking Jesus for His steadfast love, His gifts of grace, His inexhaustible patience and mercy.
I also believe that Betty Jo knew exactly how ill she was and that Jesus was truly her only hope, her only comfort in her time of need. 
What more can a person say but “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”
After Middy had to leave I stayed for a while longer and I sang some songs about Jesus to Betty Jo.  “Jesus loves me.”  “What a friend we have in Jesus.”  “I am Jesus’ little lamb.”  “My hope is built on nothing less.”  And it was wonderful – she sang with me, she sang with a heart filled with faith in the Lord’s promises.
When I left I said to Betty Jo, “I’ll see you later.”  And that is true.
I didn’t see her again before she passed into the arms of Jesus.  But I will see her again.
I will see Betty Jo on “Judgment Day”, or as I like to call it, “Resurrection Day.”
On that day, Jesus will come again, in all His magnificent glory.  All who are dead will be raised to life.  He will judge the living and the dead.  Those that believed in Jesus and trusted Him for forgiveness and eternal life will be gathered up and taken to heaven.  And those who rejected Jesus as Savior will spend an eternity apart from God.
So I’ll see Betty Jo again.  We’ll talk.  We’ll hug.  I pray that I’ll see you there too.

We’ll be gathered around the throne of God, offering our worship and praise.
And Betty Jo has given me the words to say once I enter those heavenly gates – “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”  Amen. 

Pastor George Spicer

November 18, 2015

Humility is...

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

C.S. Lewis, from "Mere Christianity"

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A can of worms

A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to the Sunday sermon.  Four worms were placed in four separate jars.

The first worm was placed in a container of alcohol.

The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.

The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.

The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.

At the conclusion of the sermon, the minister reported the following results:

The first worm in the alcohol - dead.

The second worm in cigarette smoke - dead.

The third worm in chocolate syrup - dead.

The fourth worm in good clean soil - alive.

So the minister asked the congregation what they could learn from the demonstration.

A elderly woman was sitting in the back.  She quickly raised her hand and said, "As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!

That pretty much ended the service!

From "Lighten Up and Live" by Ken Davis, BroadStreet Books

Monday, November 16, 2015

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Tis the season for outrage.

You're checking out of your favorite store when the cashier hands you your receipt and wishes you "Happy holidays!"

For the past few years Christians have practically become unglued over this failure to recognize the season for what it really is - the Christmas season.

And what is the greeting for the Christmas season? Merry Christmas, of course!

Unfortunately, our outrage makes us easy targets for criticism.

I'm sure newspaper columnists and on-line bloggers can't wait to tell how bigoted and self-righteous we are, insisting that people call the season what it is - the season of celebrating Christ's birth and preparing for Christ's second Advent.

I say, let's take the steam out of their sails.

Rather than getting all hot and bothered because people won't wish us a Merry Christmas, ignore them.

If some cashier in a store sends you on your way with "Happy Holidays," respond with "Merry Christmas."

If at the office Christmas party someone invites you to sample their "Holiday Cookies," smile, take one and then offer them a "Christmas cookie."

Complaining about this lack of respect for the things we deem important isn't getting Christians anywhere.

Instead, be who you are.

A person who once was lost in sin but found by Jesus the Christ.  Rejoice that you have been "saved by grace through faith, and this is not of yourselves - it is the gift of God, not of works so that no person can boast."  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Be who you are.

A person who has been so touched by the compassionate love of Jesus that you respond in turn by showing that same love to the people around you - even those who can't seem to speak "Merry Christmas" to you.

What do we care if our favorite coffee shop serves our "coffee grande mocha" in a plain red cup?  Take the cup and say to the barista "Merry Christmas."

Be who you are.

Organize a toy drive for kids living in shelters.  Collect coats and sweaters for the homeless living on the street.  Take a food basket to a family who is going through a tough time and needs help.

Who are we serving? The Lord Jesus Christ! "What ever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."  (Colossians 3:23)

Christians have been getting criticized for 2000 years now.  Expect it to continue.

Be who you are.

Love God.  Love your neighbor.  Witness Christ when the opportunity presents itself.  Do so in a winsome way.  Do so without shame or embarrassment.  Help those who need help wherever you can.  Let the light of Jesus' love shine brightly in your life.

And be sure to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Here's the schedule

For Saturday, you can worship at LICL at 5 pm.  Holy Communion will be celebrated.

For Sunday, you can worship at 8 or 10:45 am.  Holy Communion will be celebrated at the early service and the sacrament of Holy Baptism will be observed at the later service.

Also, Sunday brings with it Bible study classes for all ages at 9:20 in the morning.

Hope to see you for worship, prayer, study and service this weekend at Life in Christ!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Top Ten Failed Christian TV Reality Shows

10) "A Healing Service Sent Me to the ER"

9) "American Horror Story - Accordion Praise and Worship"

8) "So You Think You Can Save Yourself"

7) "PU to PLI"

6) "Total Divas - Pastor's Wives Edition"

5) "Say Yes to the Alb"

4) "Gordon Ramsey's Potluck Nightmares"

3) "My Strange Addiction to Communion Wafers"

2) "Keeping Up with the Olsteens"

And the number one failed Christian TV reality show:

1) "Real Housewives of the ELCA"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A lesson on motivation

The loaded minivan pulled into the only remaining campsite.  Four children leaped from the vehicle and began feverishly unloading gear and setting up the tent.  The boys rushed to gather firewood, while the girls and their mother set up the camp stove and cooking utensils.

A nearby camper marveled to the youngsters' father, "That, sir, is some display of teamwork."

The father replied, "I have a system.  No one goes to the bathroom until the camp is set up."

From "Homiletics" magazine, May 2010, page 35

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Why it's good to remember

I'm working my way through Max Lucado's latest, "Glory Days," when Lucado describes a conversation he had with his daughter, Andrea.

Lucado is worried about meeting a book deadline. Andrea asks a simple question, "Have you ever missed a deadline before?" Lucado answers, No."

Andrea then asks, "So God has helped you fifteen times already?"  This time Lucado answers, "Yes."

"He's helped you each time? If he has helped you fifteen different times, don't you think He will help you this time?"

Lucado goes on to write, "Satan has no recourse to your testimony.  Your best weapon against his attacks is a good memory."

Now, I don't want to quibble with a great writer like Lucado.  I would say that our best weapon against wily Satan is the mighty Word of God.

Still, remembering what God has done for you is one of the best ways to see your way past the temptations and lies of the devil.

Remembering is the good advise Asaph gives us in Psalm 77.

Asaph is troubled.  And he's wondering if God even cares, if God is even interested in his life.

He asks, "Has (God's) steadfast love forever ceased...Has God forgotten to be gracious...Has He in anger shut up His compassion?"

Ah, but then the psalmist writes (in verse 11): "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old."

And, as Asaph remembers, he is comforted.  He is reminded of God's holiness and greatness.  He remembers God's redeeming power.  He goes all the way back to the freeing of Israel from Egyptian slavery.  He remembers how God parted the sea, providing an escape for the people.  I love verse 19: "Your way was through the sea, Your path through the great waters; yet Your footprints were unseen."

What trouble are you facing today? Another delay in scheduling the job interview, the job you so desperately need? Unrelenting pressure of raising teenagers who want to start exerting their independence? Conflict with a co-worker which makes going to work an unbearable experience?

Instead of worrying, try remembering.

Remember how God has opened doors of opportunity for you in the past.  If He did so before, can't he do so again?

Remember how God has helped you raise your kids right up to this very day.  If he's given you the wisdom and patience to love and nurture your kids to their teen years, doesn't it only make sense that He will keep on helping you now?

Remember how God has given you the courage and knowledge to deal with difficult people in the past.  Is your present situation too hard for God to help you solve?

Why is it good to remember? So we can be reassured that God's steadfast love has not ceased...that He has not forgotten to be gracious...that He has not closed off His compassion to us.

Remember...and then rejoice.  God is with you in your trouble - even if you can't see His footprints!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why meditate on the names of God?

            When you are confused about the future, go to your Jehovah-raah, your caring shepherd.  When you are anxious about provision, talk to Jehovah-jireh, the Lord who provides.  Are your challenges too great?  Seek the help of Jehovah-shalom, the Lord is peace.  Is your body sick? Are your emotions weak?  Jehovah-rophe, the Lord who heals you will see you now.  Do you feel like a soldier stranded behind enemy lines?  Take refuge in Jehovah-nissi, the Lord my banner.

            Meditating on the names of God reminds you of the character of God.  Take these names and bury them in your heart.

            God is:
            The shepherd who guides,
            The Lord who provides,
            The voice who brings peace in the storm
            The physician who heals the sick, and
            The banner that guides the soldiers.

            From the Great House of God by

            Max Lucado

Monday, November 9, 2015

Meet Martin Luther

You would assume that those who attend Lutheran Churches know at least something about Martin Luther.

But I've been a little surprised but very encouraged by the response I've received to the Sunday morning Bible class we been going through on the life of Luther.

One person said to me, "I guess I really didn't understand what the Reformation was all about. Luther was fighting for people to read and learn the Bible."

Someone else said, "Either Luther was stubborn or really courageous.  Either way, it took guts to stand up to the Pope and the King."

Finally, one of our members said, "I'm going home to check out Amazon and buy some books on Luther.  Got any recommendations?"

Here's two: "Here I Stand" by Roland Bainton is a classic.  It provides a very thorough review of the reformer's life.  A newer version is 'Luther the Reformer" by James Kittelson.  I first read Kittelson at the seminary.  Since then I've reread his book twice and continue to discover new revelations about Luther.

If you're looking to sink your teeth into Luther I highly recommend the books by Kittelson or Bainton.

Get ready to be amazed by the life of Martin Luther!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Oh, Saturday!

Well, let's see...We'll take my grandson to his soccer game today.  Maybe have a little lunch (Zinburger would be nice).  Head back home to catch some of the ASU game (and probably get royally frustrated as they make mistake after mistake).  Write prayers and review tomorrow's service. Watch a movie with my dear, sweet wife.

Whatever you decide to do this Saturday, remember that LICL has a service today at 5 pm.  Deacon Jerry Klink will preach.  Tomorrow, worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am.  It is Operation Barnabas Sunday and so we'll honor the veterans who worship with us, giving thanks to God for their service to our country.

Come and join us!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Top Ten Things Your Mom Would Never Say To You

10) "You ate the entire cake? That's OK.  I'll just make another."

9) "How on earth can you see the television sitting so far back? Move closer!"

8) "Yeah, I used to skip school a lot, too."

7) "Just leave all the lights on in the house.  It makes the place more cheery."

6) "Let me smell your shirt.  Yeah, it's good for another week."

5) "Go ahead and keep that stray dog, Honey.  I'll be glad to feed and walk him every day."

4) "Well, if Timmy's Mom says it's okay, that's good enough for me."

3) "The curfew is just a general time to shoot for.  It's not like I'm running a prison around here."

2) "Don't bother wearing a jacket - the wind chill is bound to improve."

And the number one thing your Mom would never say to you:

1) "I don't have a tissue with me - just use your sleeve."

Culled from Homiletics Magazine

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Overcome evil with good

A friend of mine had been wronged by another person.  When I asked my friend how he was going to handle the situation he replied, "George, I don't get mad.  I get even."

That is often our first response when someone has slandered us or taken advantage of us or has hurt us in some way.  We'd like to pay them back and make them feel the pain we've suffered.  We'd like for them to know a sleepless night or an upset stomach or a throbbing headache.  We even begin to think that we won't really be happy until we've gotten some kind of revenge.

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to have his service to the Lord be criticized and condemned. He knew what is was like to suffer punishment for no good reason.  He knew what it was like to be on the run from enemies and their evil plans.  If anyone ever had a reason to want to "get even" it was Paul.

So read chapter 12 of Paul's letter to the Romans sometime today.  Paul encourages his readers (including you and me) to "bless those who persecute you," and "do not repay evil for evil."  How can we live this way? Only through the power of the Lord who enables us to set aside worldly ways and "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Ask the Holy Spirit to continue His transforming power through the Gospel in your daily life so that you might become a "living sacrifice" who continually seeks God's will for daily living.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Speaking of dogs...

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.  Inside of a dog, it's too hard to read.

A Groucho Marx quote from a t-shirt I saw for sale at Bookman's.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

One good reason to own a dog

Humorist Dave Berry provides the answer:

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "You're right! I never would have thought of that!"

Saturday, October 31, 2015

No Tricks, No Treats

Not at our church this Saturday.  But don't be disappointed.  We've got something better to give away - the gifts of God!

Word and sacraments - the means the Holy Spirit uses to bring us and keep us in saving faith - will be distributed this weekend at LICL.  Worship with us this Saturday at 5 pm or Sunday at 8 and 10:45 am.  Bible classes for all ages takes place at 9:20 in the morning.

Have a blessed weekend.  Hope to see you at Life in Christ!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Top Ten Signs You're In a Bad Boy Scout Troop

No, I did not write this one but it really cracked me up.  Drum roll, please...

10) You get a merit badge for picking the trifecta at Aqueduct

9) You help old ladies across the 101

8) First rule in handbook: "Blame the kid who can't speak English."

7) You're part of a very special troop called the Gambino family

6) To become an Eagle Scout, you have to catch and eat a bald eagle

5) Because he can't get time off, the troop leader holds meetings in his Century 21 office

4) You get busted for selling knot-tying secrets to Russian Boy Scout troops

3) The Scoutmaster hands out his favorite campfire treat - Marlboro Lights

2) The troop motto: "Be lie on the witness stand."

And the number one sign that you're in a bad Boy Scout Troop?

1) Every year, you have to put on a skirt and go door-to-door selling cookies

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Poisonous Weeds

Forbid me Lord
from praying for my enemies
or those who wronged me
while cherishing
the secret wish
that they be hurt
or destroyed
Purge me of bitterness anger
revenge hate
Root out 
the poisonous weeds
of jealously
entangled in my heart
towards those
who have a greater position
than the small place
I occupy
I am self-centered
wooden powerless
to make this change
infuse me with
Your Holy Spirit
that I may truly
love my enemies
and not curse them
and pray for them
as did Your Son
upon the cross

From "Prayers for People Under Pressure," by Donald Deffner, Northwestern Publishing House, page 58

Monday, October 26, 2015

Love Casts Out Fear

I don't know Brother Nathan.  But I very much admire him.

We believers in America know of persecution.  And yet, we have not yet felt the kind of persecution and hatred that believers in the Middle East feel and deal with every day.

"Love Casts Out Fear," published by Baker Books, offers a first hand account of what it is like being in the religious minority, of suffering on account of Christ, of knowing what is it like to trust the Lord every day with your life.

Learn what it's like to live in a small, Middle Eastern village.  Feel the pain of losing a parent who is gunned down by Muslin extremists.  Experience the desire for getting revenge from those who took away a loved one.

Read of how God replaced the desire for revenge with the peace that passes all understanding. Learn what it's like to trust that the Lord will really provide for all your needs.  Marvel at how a ministry that began with few resources has reached out with the love of God into parts of the world controlled by those who wish to destroy Christian believers.

"Love Casts Out Fear" truly is a "can't put it down" kind of book.  Read it and you'll admire Brother Nathan too.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trunk or Treat!

Following tonight's 5 pm service, our children's ministry will host a "trunk or treat" event in our parking lot.  Games for the kids start at 6 pm and the trunk or treating will commence at 7 o'clock.

Tomorrow we celebrate Reformation Sunday with two services - 8 and 10:45 am.  At the 9:20 Bible class hour, while the kids attend Sunday school and Confirmation training, we'll continue our study of the life of Martin Luther by going all the way back to October 31, 1517 and the posting of the 95 Theses.

Give God two tomorrow - two hours of your time for worship and study.  Hope to see you at LICL!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bonhoeffer on Christ and the cross

The wondrous theme of the Bible that frightens so many people is that the only visible sign of God in the world is the cross.  Christ is not carried away from earth to heaven in glory, but He must go to the cross.  And precisely there, where the cross stands, the resurrection is near; even there, where everyone begins to doubt God, where everyone despairs of God's power, there God is whole, there Christ is active and near.  Where the power of darkness does violence to the light of God, there God triumphs and judges the darkness.

From "The Story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer" by Michael Van Dyke, page 68.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I'd rather have Jesus

Jesus is always better than a few Jesus-inspired principles.

Daniel Darling, "The Original Jesus," page 102.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New Member Sunday

In the 10 years I've served at LICL we've had many New Member Sundays.  They are days of celebration as we see the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at work.

We've never had a plan for growth at Life in Christ.  God grows the church.  The Holy Spirit works, as we say, "when and where He pleases."  We have been pleased to watch the Lord at work, changing hearts and giving hope to people.  Some had wandered away from the church and wanted to reconnect with Jesus.  Others were tired of their "treadmill" lives and wanted something more. We praise the Lord for His powerful work through Word and Sacraments.

Today, you can attend worship at 5 pm.  Deacon Jerry Klink will be preaching.  Sunday services are held at 8 and 10:45 am.  Bible classes for all ages start at 9:20 in the morning.

Hope to see you this weekend at LICL!

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Friday Funny - part three

Here's the story I wanted to share with you last week...

After 17 years of marriage, a man dumped his wife for a younger woman.  To add insult to injury, the man wanted to keep his downtown luxury apartment so that he and his new love could make it their love nest.  The man did promise his wife that he would buy her another play to live.

The wife agreed to these terms and made one request - that she be allowed three days to pack up her things.  

On day one, the wife lovingly placed her belongings in boxes, crates and suitcases.

Day two saw the movers come and collect her things.

When the third day arrived, she sat down at the dining room table and treated herself to a last meal. 
While soft music played in the background, she dined on a pound of jumbo shrimp and a bottle of expensive Chardonnay.

When she finished, she went into each room and deposited a few of the leftover shrimp into the hollow of the curtain rods.  She then cleaned the kitchen and left.

The husband came back with his new girlfriend, ready to begin a new life.  Life was good for the first day or two but then, with each new day, a foul odor began to fill the house.  They tried everything to rid the place of the smell but nothing worked.  Finally, the man and his new girl friend cried "Uncle" and moved out.

The moving company arrived and did a very professional packing job, taking everything to the couple's new home...including the curtain rods!  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Looking at the big picture

Sunday morning Bible class is well attended with lots of interest in the "Luther" study produced by Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Tuesday morning and Thursday evening Bible classes have strong attendance (some folks attend both classes during the week).

Wednesday's sign language class is filled with enthusiastic attendees.

The Visitation Team is making a difference in helping our church connect with folks who check out Life in Christ.

The Youth Group is active and growing.  Their participation in the life of the church is a real encouragement.

Our music ministries continue to bless our church.

Ministry wouldn't be possible without the participation of so many volunteers.

More than 50% of our membership are in worship each week.

Is Life in Christ a perfect, problem-free church?

No, we have our struggles just like ever other congregation.

And it's easy to focus on those struggles, becoming discouraged in the process.

That's why it's so important to be looking at the big picture and see the power of God at work in the life of the church.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A reciprocal relationship

Our relationship with God is not unlike our relationship with our spouse or best friend.  In order for it to grow, we must intentionally and actively communicate with Him.  God speaks to us through His Word, through the Sacraments, and through those whom He chooses to use as His instruments. We speak to God through prayer.  Initiated by God's gracious act of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, our relationship with Him is now reciprocal, as we respond to His love and reflect it to the world.  In doing so, we fulfill the second part of the Great Commandment - to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39).  The Commandments, then, also become a guide on our journey.

From "The Calling - Live a Life of Significance" by Kurt Senske, page 32, Concordia Publishing House

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Welcome Will Matthew Spicer!

On Sunday, my daughter in law, Christina, was ready to have her baby.  Never mind that the doctor said the delivery was still a week or so away. Christina was done waiting.

So it was no surprise when we got the call about 3:30 am that she and Eric were heading to the hospital.  My dear sweet wife grabbed her stuff and drove to meet them.  It appeared that Will was going to make an early morning appearance.

Then, around 7:30 am Sherri called to say that there was been a slowdown and that it appeared that they would all spend a long day at the hospital.  I decided to use the time to do some review of texts for the next sermon I would prepare.

All of a sudden, around 10:30 am I got a text from Sherri.  Will had arrived!  Even the nurse caring for Christina couldn't believe how quickly things began to happen.  Dr. Sawyer arrived and the rest, as they say, is history.

Will is 20 inches long and weighs in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces.  Christina thought that he weighed at least 9 pounds!

I know you hear this from all proud grandparents but Will is a beautiful baby.  As he sleeps he almost purrs.  So cute! He took right to nursing.  He and his mother are bonding quickly.  And my son is over the moon with joy!

Will's sister, Emily, was pretty awe struck seeing her new baby brother.  I think she'll be a fine big sister.

Sherri said to me, "The miracle of birth takes your breath away."  Indeed, it does.  All praise to the One who works such miracles, our maker and creator, our mighty God.  Glory to His name!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dispatch and Match

When I was ordained and installed as a parish pastor I was once told by an older brother pastor, "I can sum up your work in three words - hatch, match and dispatch!"

He was referring to three of the things that pastors do - baptize babies (and adults too!), perform marriages and conduct memorial services.

I'll do two of the three today.  At 1 pm the LICL church family will gather for the Memorial Service of Ruth Donaho.  Ruth essentially wrote the service and it will feature much singing.We pray that God's Word comfort Ruth's husband, Mel, during this day of mourning.

Then at 5:30 pm off site I will perform the Marriage Service of Nicole Lingenfelter and Justin Ulrich. Nicole has sang often our church, blessing us with her beautiful voice.  It will be an honor for me to participate in her wedding to Justin.

Don't forget that Life in Christ will have a Communion Service at 5 pm and two worship services tomorrow at 8 and 10:45 am.  Join us for worship at Life in Christ!

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Friday Funny (rerun)

The Friday Funny I planned to share today is laying alone and nearly forgotten somewhere in my office.  In its place I offer the following rerun:

A women called a pet shop one day and asked, "I need to purchase 10,000 cockroaches."

The proprietor asked, "Why in the world would you need 10,000 cockroaches?"

She replied, "I'm moving from my apartment today and the lease says that I must leave the apartment exactly as I found it!"

Have a nice (and bug-free) weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Gearing Up For the Weekend

Today: Write a wedding sermon...make several shut-in visits...teach Thursday Evening Bible Class

Friday: Write a short funeral sermon...follow up on preparation for the Memorial Service...tie up loose ends from the week...lead a wedding rehearsal

Saturday: Conduct a Memorial Service for sainted Ruth Donaho...officiate at Nicole and Justin's wedding

Sunday: Preach and lead two worship services...teach the morning Bible class

Monday: recuperate

Well, let's get started!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What you really believe

Here's something to chew on today...

The great church father, Augustine, said, "If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it's not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."

From "The Original Jesus" - page 47

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pushing through the pain

Since his beloved Ruth passed away Mel Donaho has been pushing through the pain.

It's not been easy though.  They were married for six decades.  Their partnership was the kind that every marriage should be.  Mel loved Ruth enough to die for her.  She loved him enough to live for him.  (See Ephesians, chapter five)

In spite of his pain, Mel continues to trust in the Lord Jesus.

I've watched as the Lord has kept His promise to Mel.  In Matthew, chapter five, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

Jesus has comforted Mel by speaking His holy Word into Mel's head and heart.  Oh, how these truths has blessed him.  Mel rejoices that Jesus paid the penalty for the sins in Ruth's life.  Mel is thankful for the Lord's promise that one day Ruth will be raised to life, given a glorified body and take residence in a mansion the Lord has built for her in heaven.

And Mel, who has embraced Jesus as his personal Savior, will be reunited with Ruth, to live forever in the presence of the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."  (John, chapter one)

Tonight, LICL presents the first of two performances of "The Book of Job," a readers theatre presentation written and directed by Mel.  The performances will begin at 7 pm and admission is free. We've been encouraging our members to bring a friend with them tonight or tomorrow.  A great way to honor Ruth's memory is to be in attendance.

It will also be a great encouragement for a man who, with the Lord's help, is pushing through the pain.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Original Jesus

A number of years ago J. B. Phillips wrote a book entitled, "You God is Too Small."  Phillips was lamenting how mere mortals chop God down to size in order to meet their concept of the Almighty. Phillips was quick to point out that a God made in our image is no God at all.

Daniel Darling, in his latest book, "The Original Jesus," demonstrates that in the 21st century we mere mortals are still trying to make God into something less that what God really is - transcendent, immortal, all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal.

Darling shows how conservatives and liberals alike have whittled down Jesus into someone who supports their causes but not as redeemer of the whole world.  "Dr. Phil Jesus" is someone who is not worshiped and praised for His innocent suffering and death and victorious resurrection but as someone who has a five step plan for you to live your best life now.  "Legalist Jesus" is reduced to nothing more that the giver of a list of rules that helps a person live a moral, righteous life, as if that were possible, given our ingrained habit of sinning.

I really appreciated what Darling wrote in "BFF Jesus:" We need to recover the tension that is the humanity and divinity of Jesus.  I wonder, when the average unchurched person reads our evangelism literature, do they find an almighty, powerful Lord and King of the universe who left His throne of glory to stoop down, take on flesh, and bear our sins on the cross?  Do they find the Christ who defeated demonic powers, was raised from the dead, and is in the process of renewing and restoring all of creation? Do they find the Jesus of Revelation who tramples His enemies underfoot and righteously judges the nations?...What we need is a return to a confessional, reformational Christianity, not a stuffy, leisure-suits-and-slide-projector type of evangelicalism.  We don't need a curmudgeonly get-off-my-lawn evangelicalism, but a robust expression of faith in Christ that acknowledges Jesus as a more than our running buddy or Facebook friend.  We need the Jesus who is the conquering King, the Creator of the universe.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Giving thanks for Chuck

This Sunday our church will give thanks for the ministry and service of Chuck Haynes who served as our first chairman of the Board of Elders.  There probably isn't a person in our church who hasn't been touched in some way by Chuck's example of faith and love in his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have benefited again and again from his wisdom, prayers and encouragement.  We will take a moment at the 10:45 am service to pray to the Lord for filling Chuck's heart with love and compassion for the LICL family.

So two services this Sunday - 8 and 10:45 am - and Bible classes for all ages beginning at 9:20 in the morning.

Also, we have a Saturday service which takes place at 5 o'clock.  Deacon Jerry Klink will preach and the Kevin Svec Group will provide the music.

Join us this weekend at LICL!

Friday, October 2, 2015

When were you saved?

When a Lutheran is asked, "When were you saved?" the answer is often something on the order of "about two thousand years ago, when Jesus died on the cross and then rose from the dead." Christianity has to do not so much with a code of behavior or a system of belief or a set of experiences but with Christ.  We are saved solely by the action of God: He is the one who saved us by performing everything we could not.

Gene Edward Veith, "The Spirituality of the Cross," page 32, CPH

Thursday, October 1, 2015


As in 100 victories for the St. Louis Cardinals - National League Central Division Champs once again!

Why do I root for the Cardinals when the Diamondbacks are in my backyard?

I lived in St. Louis for 13 years.  You can't help but pay attention to the Cardinals.

St. Louis is a baseball town.  Many contend that the best baseball fans in America can be found the the shadow of the famous Arch.

St. Louis fans know good baseball when they see it.  They frequently applaud the visiting team for a good play.  But there is no doubt about the team they support - a Cardinals home game sometimes feels like a college football game with nearly the entire stadium decked out in red.

Most ball clubs are more than happy to reach the 90 win plateau.  That the Cardinals surpassed that mark this season is amazing.

No team suffered more injuries to key players than the Cards.  Top players Adam Wainwright, Matt Holiday and Matt Adams missed significant playing time.  Other regulars missed games due to injury.

But because of pitching depth and the best farm system in baseball the Cardinals hardly missed a step.  Minor leaguers who were being groomed for the big team stepped in and performed well.  The team continued to grind for runs.  A strong defense helped to limit the opposition from running up crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

September has been a pretty average month for St. Louis.  But because they played so well so early in the year the Cardinals managed to hold off every winning streak the Pirates and Cubs managed to put together.

How will the Cardinals do in the playoffs?

Well, even though they won 100 games the experts are suggesting that the Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, and Pirates are in better shape to blow through the playoffs than the Cardinals.

I don't know about that.  Every time I thought St. Louis would fold, due to another loss of a key man, they would find a way to win.

I hope that formula holds true culminating in a World Series championship.

Play (more) ball!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Some observations about "The War Room"

A couple of our members blessed us with tickets to see the film, "The War Room," last night.  This is the latest in a series of movies produced, written and directed by the Kendrick Brothers, the fellows who brought us "Fireproof" and "Courageous" among others.

As usual, secular reviewers found much to dislike about the film.  But given how "The War Room" dominated the box office in its first few weeks of release it is hard to simply ignore this movie. Several folks at LICL had seen the movie and gave it rave reviews.  My dear, sweet wife and I join that crowd.

I didn't know any of the actors in the film but they all gave fine performances.  A couple of scenes could have been shortened a bit but the pacing of the film was fine.  Critics have complained that the plot was too predictable.  But I didn't find that to be the case (there were several plot twists that I didn't see coming).  With each film the Kendrick Brothers have been able to work with a larger production budget; "The War Room" looks like a major motion picture production and that just gives more credibility to faith based films.

The emphasis of the film is the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian.  I liked how praying Scripture was stressed throughout the film.  I kept thinking of our "52" effort this year and how committing Scripture to memory aids a believer in their prayer life.  I don't know of too many people who have enough closet space in their homes to empty one out to make a prayer closet (not at our house!).  But I liked how the filmed showed that creating a place where a person can be alone to pray to God can be a place of blessing.

I was glad were kind enough to enable us to see "The War Room."  If you haven't, go see the film yourself.  It just might motivate you to clear out a closet and set up your own "war room."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Short but meaningful



teach me

not to worry

when I can


From "Prayers For People Under Pressure" by Donald L. Deffner, page 34, NPH

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Ready Enthuastic Action = Christ's Heart!

This weekend our four part sermon series on LICL's Mission Statement comes to an end.  We focus on the word "REACH," and what this means for our church.  A pastor friend once said to me, "George, if your church isn't reaching out, it's just standing still."  Join us as we take a look at what it means to REACH others.

Saturday worship begins at 5 o'clock today.  On Sunday our worship times are 8 and 10:45 am and Bible classes for all ages takes place at 9:20 am.  We look forward to seeing you at LICL!

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Friday Funny, part two

The elderly priest sat down one day to review the state of the parish with the newly assigned younger priest.  The elderly priest said, "You had a good idea to replace the first four pews with plush bucket theater seats.  It works like a charm.  The front of the church always fills first now."

The older cleric continued, "And you told me adding a little more beat to the music would bring young people back to church, so I supported you when you brought in that rock 'n roll gospel choir. Now our services are consistently packed to the balcony."

The young priest answered, "Thank you, father.  I am pleased that you are open to the new ideas of youth."

The elderly priest continued, "All of these ideas have been well and good.  But I'm afraid you've gone too far with the drive-thru confessional."

"But father," protested the young priest, "my confessions and the donations have nearly doubled since I began that."

"Yes," replied the elderly priest, "you are correct.  But the flashing neon sign, 'Toot 'n Tell or Go to Hell' cannot stay on the church roof!"

Thanks to Kevin Svec for this week's Friday Funny.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Movies

A few weeks ago a friend shared with me his top ten favorite movies.  I thought to myself, "This guy has too much time on his hands."

Lo and behold, guess what I did for awhile last Monday? Maybe I've got more time than I thought I did!

Anyway, I put my list together.  It didn't take too much time.  I just thought about the movies I seem to enjoy watching again and again.  What I noticed about the list is that I like movies that center around sports in some way and that I really am drawn to movies with an inspirational story line.

So, for better or worse, his my list.

10) The Return of the Pink Panther - Well, I like Peter Sellers...a lot.  And this first movie of the franchise is hilarious.

9) Gregory's Girl - This is a coming of age movie that I could relate to.  I was every bit as dorky and clueless in my teen days as Gregory.

8) A Few Good Men - Aaron Sorkin crafts dialog like few can do.  If the courtroom scene between Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise doesn't cause the hair to rise on the back of your neck, check your pulse.

7) Miracle - The story of the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team that took down the mighty Russian squad.  Will never forget Al Michaels' call: "Do you believe in miracles? YES!"

6) Amadeus - What do I like more? Listening to Mozart's timeless music or the performances of Tom Hulse or F. Murray Abraham? Tough choice.

5) Invictus - How do you hold together a country that is tearing apart? Have the rugby team will the world championship.

4) A Hard Days Night - This movie was made on a shoestring budget because the producer felt the Beatles would crash and burn quickly.  Roger Ebert, the famous film critic, in his review of the film, called the Beatles "the new Marx Brothers."  And the music ain't bad, either.

3) The King's Speech - The best movie about friendship I've seen.

2) The Sound of Music - For my money the greatest musical ever made.

1) Schlinder's List - Steven Spielberg has made so many great movies.  If this is not his best movie, it is his most important.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

You'd better go to church because...

To not go to church is to make me the arbiter of truth; it is to place myself as the final judge over what humanity needs, or what a person should believe.  But to go to church is to surrender.  Going to church is a confession at its core that I cannot make sense of the world on my own, that I cannot connect the dots, that I need the wisdom of the ages to be passed on to me.  Not going to church can be, in a sense, the ultimate arrogance; going to church can be the ultimate humility.

Glenn Packiam, from the book, "The Original Jesus," by Daniel Darling, published by Baker Books.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The birthday chronicle

5:57 am - September 20, my birthday.

6:03 am - My dear, sweet wife wants to know how it feels to be 63 years old.  When I think about it I fail to feel.

7:05 am - I arrive at church to find my office decorated in a "Sports Games" theme by the amazing Connie Kanzler.

8:20 am - I take a moment to sip from the Dairy Queen Chocolate Milkshake which I'm using as a prop for my sermon on "encouragement."  I could have sucked down the whole thing but refrained.

9:15 am - The congregation sings "Happy Birthday" to me and Todd Brodowski.  It's pretty humbling that I'm loved and supported by so many in our church.

9:35 am - Late start but an enjoyable "Bonhoeffer" study with lots of good questions and comments from the class.

11:05 am - Milkshake, part two.

12:45 pm - Arrive home to see that the AZ. Cardinals are hammering the Chicago Bears.

1:15 pm - Birthday dinner with spaghetti and some nice Italian wine.

2:15 pm - Time to open gifts! Sherri bought us matching Fitbit's so we can get in shape and be able to celebrate next year's birthday.  My kids were generous to me.  The Baker's gave me a Beatles poster - they have good taste.  Connie continued the Sports Games theme with appropriate sports games snacks plus a mug that says, "I (heart) my sports games."  So blessed!

3:00 pm - Time for chocolate cake and ice cream! My grandsons, Luke and Ethan have waited long enough (as they told me).

5:30 pm - Since my daughter Katie and her family live in Green Bay, WI., we watch our second favorite team play on Sunday night football.  Hooray! More Sports Games!

8:15 pm - Time for a second piece of Chocolate cake.

9:00 pm - Back to my book on Jefferson.

10:00 pm - Time for a chocolate bar and a rerun of "Everybody Loves Raymond."  Even our cats look forward to this time each evening.

10:30 pm - Lights out.  Hey! 63 years old isn't so bad after all.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


As we continue the sermon series about our mission statement - Live and Grow in Christ ~ Encourage and Reach Others - our focus is on the word, "encourage."  Come and learn what this word means for the followers of Christ Jesus.  Visit us tomorrow at 8 and 10:45 am; Sunday school, Confirmation, Hi School Youth and Adult Classes are held at 9:20 am.

Or, if it's more convenient, join us today at 5 pm for our Saturday service.  We promise a friendly welcome!

Life in Christ is located at 14802 N. 75th Avenue, between Greenway and Thunderbird in the West Valley.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Friday Funny

A couple had been debating buying a new vehicle for weeks.  He was looking for a tricked out pick-up truck.  She wanted a fast little sports car to zip through traffic around town. But everything she liked was way out of their price range.

"Look," she said, "I want something that goes from 0 to 100 in just a few seconds.  Nothing else will do.  Christmas is coming so surprise me."

On Christmas Day he gave her a bathroom scale.

Nobody has seen or heard from him since.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Light in the Tower

One day in 1514, Luther was studying the Letter to the Romans.  As usual, he was in his private office, a room on the second floor of a tower attached to the monastery.  As he worked his way through the first chapter, he came to verses 16 & 17: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written (Habakkuk 2:4), 'The righteous will live by faith'."

Luther paused.  "Now wait a minute," he told himself. What does God mean when he talks about the 'righteousness from God? And how does man become righteous, or just, before God? Oh, I know. God shows His righteousness by punishing sinners every time they do wrong.  And the only way a man can become righteous is to do all that God wants him to do'."

"But, no, that can't be right.  Paul says man is made righteous or just by faith, by believing in something God has done for him.  Well, what has God done for man to make him righteous or holy? Let me see now.  Paul says the Gospel is the power that saves.  Now what the the Gospel talk about? Oh, yes, it tells about Jesus Christ.  Jesus kept the Law perfectly, yet He was punished on the cross. But why? Because He had done something wrong? No, because I had."

"I see the answer! God punished Jesus in my place, the same Jesus who had kept God's holy Law. By punishing His Son, God carried out His threat that sin will be punished by death.  All I have to do is accept this fact and I need not fear that God will punish me with eternal death.  I am holy in God's sight because I know and believe that Jesus is holy for me and has taken my punishment."

Luther had just had his great "tower experience."

From "Luther - Biography of a Reformer" by Frederick Nohl, pages 45, 47.  Concordia Publishing House

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Put between a rock and a hard place

One of the columnists at the local newspaper has found Grand Canyon University a worthwhile subject to write about.

He learned that Grand Canyon does not offer the same benefits to same-sex married couples as are offered to, how do I put this, regular married couples.

That would be those one man-one woman married couples.  Those who have been married according to the guidelines that God set in the doctrine of marriage.  You can read all about it in the Bible -Genesis, chapter two.

To not grant these benefits to same-sex married couples is failure to show Christian love.

To fail to grant these benefits would prove a lack of Christian values on GCU's part.

It is also a Christian value to hear the Word of God and obey it.  So says Jesus.

So, perhaps, GCU's policy does demonstrate that the college practices what it preaches.

Pressure is being brought to bear on GCU not only by the newspaper but also by the ACLU.

If GCU doesn't get on board, so to speak, they will certainly face legal action.

I don't know what the leadership at Grand Canyon will do.

Maybe it's time for a "Here I stand" moment.

When Luther was called on by Charles V at the Diet of Worms to recant his critical writings against the Roman church the great reformer had to make a stand.

"Unless I am convinced by the teachings of Holy Scripture or by sound reasoning - for I do not believe either the pope or councils alone, since they have often made mistakes and have even said the exact opposite about the same point - I am tied by the Scriptures I have quoted and by my conscience. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither safe nor right.  Here I stand.  God help me.  Amen."

We watched Hobby Lobby take a stand.  Maybe God will empower GCU to do the same.