Saturday, January 31, 2015

What are the elements of prayer?

Matthew 8:2 reads: A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean."  Verse 3: Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man.  "I am willing," He said.  "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.

Reading in the "Christian Year of Grace," Johann Spangenberg writes: (To the elements of prayer there are) Four things: first, we should pray in the name of the Lord (John 16:23); second, submit our will to God's will; third, ask in faith (James 1:6); fourth, present our problem in the briefest way possible.

The leper's prayer contains these four elements.  Can you identify them?

First - "Lord"

Second - "If you are willing"

Third - "You can"

Fourth - "Make me clean"

Also, Spangenberg says "Prayer (is) the best work we can do on earth."

A Super Weekend of Worship!

Yes, it's finally here.  All the waiting and watching is over.  Let there be no more delays.  It's the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany!

This wasn't on your radar? It should have been.  In this Epiphany season the church focuses on those Scriptures that show Jesus revealing Himself as the Messiah, the Son of God.  In this weekend's Gospel reading from Mark 1, Jesus is shown healing a man with an unclean spirit.  But there is something interesting in this reading.  It's not the unclean man or even the crowd in Capernaum that proclaim Jesus as God's Son.  It's the unclean spirit that makes the announcement.  "What have you come to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God!"

What Jesus does is always more exciting than anything Tom Brady or Russell Wilson will do.  So join us this weekend for worship.  Our Saturday service takes place at 5 pm today with Deacon Gale Cynova doing the preaching and Connie, Dan, Ron and myself providing the music.  On Sunday, be at LICL at either 8 or 10:45 am.  Our Adult Choir will sing for us.  And don't forget Sunday school, Confirmation, Hi School Youth and Adults meet for study and fellowship at 9:20 am.  Hope to see you for a super weekend of worship!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Helping Zeke

Temporarily absent from home, Captain Webster left Daniel, and his brother, Ezekiel with specific instructions as to the work they were to do that day.

On his return he found the task still unperformed.  The Captain questioned the boys about their idleness.

"What have you been doing, Ezekiel?" the Captain asked.

"Nothing, sir"

Then asked the Captain, "Well, Daniel, what have you been doing?"

"Helping Zeke, sir."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Worried about worship

Lutheran worship is such a blessing.  People come into God's House and have what seems to be the unthinkable happen - God comes to His people and serves them!

God comes to His people in His Word of forgiveness.  Guilty consciences are comforted and relieved as God speaks His Word of forgiveness.  You can see the relief on some of the faces.  How good to know that God forgives and then forgets our sins and transgressions.  His Word promises that God remembers our sins no more.

God comes to His people in the bread and wine of the Holy Supper.  Drawing near to Christ, at His invitation, hungry worshipers receive the true Body and Blood of the Lord.  Here is assurance that sins are forgiven.  Here is assurance that heaven's gates stand wide open for those who belong to the Lord.

In fact, wherever God's Word and Sacraments are found, God is there.  That makes worship a unique and meaningful experience.

In some churches, worship is seen as what we do for God.  The service is ours.  The work is ours. God is just an innocent bystander, soaking up all of our wonderfulness.

While I am glad that in worship God gives me the opportunity to respond to His service to me by letting me offer my praises in the hymns, my petitions and requests in the prayers, and my gifts to enable ministry to continue to happen, I don't need a God who needs me to gush all over Him.  I want and need a God who assures me that He holds nothing against me...who strengthens and nourishes my faith so that I am able to call on Him in times of temptation and testing...who gives me everything I need for this life as I watch and prepare for the life to come.

Dr. David W. Manner is a Baptist pastor who has been deeply involved in worship and music ministry.  Dr. Manner has offered a cautionary word about worship in a blog post that I found very interesting.  It was called "15 Worship Decisions We'll Regret."

Here are some of the concerns he listed that cause me some worry:

Elevating music above Scripture, prayer and the Lord's Supper.
Trying to recreate worship with each new generation.
Ignoring the Christian calendar and adopting the Hallmark Calendar.
Worshiping like inspiration stopped with the hymnal.
Worshiping like inspiration started with modern worship songs.
Allowing songs about God to supersede the Word of God.

When worship becomes all about "me, myself, and I" instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then there is no true worship.  Trendy does not trump traditional.

May God save us from ourselves so that we might really receive the gifts of grace that we need and that He wants to give to us in worship.  Then, we can shout with all the lung power we can muster, "PRAISE THE LORD!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My turn: my Arizona

This week the local paper is filling up lots of pages with stories about our state.  With all the tourists in town for the Super Bowl and the Golf Tourney, this is an excellent opportunity to tell about the wonders of the Grand Canyon State and to sell newspapers (or is it the other way around?).

One writer shared about seeing the desert as something beautiful instead of barren.  Another described how he came to love the state because of its unique "off the beaten path" locations.  Spring training baseball got a mention.  And a couple of folks suggested that there was a lot more to know about Arizona besides the notoriety we receive because of how we do politics out here in the wild, wild west.

My take is a bit different.  I love Arizona because of family - my own family and my church family.

I just recently celebrated my 10 anniversary serving as pastor (now senior pastor) of Life in Christ. But when my wife and I pulled into the LaQuinta parking lot at 83rd Avenue and Bell, on January 2, 2005, we celebrated because we were being reunited with our three kids.

They all had migrated back to Arizona after having spent many years in the mid-west.  They were born here in the Valley and, one by one, came back to the place that really felt like home to them.  So when I received the call to Life in Christ, one wonderful benefit was to rejoin our kids.

For 10 years now our house on Sunday afternoon is the gathering point for family.  The additions have been wonderful: two great son-in-laws and one beautiful daughter in law; 4 sweet grandchildren (and one on the way!); my mother and father in law living two doors down from us.  My dear, sweet wife calls most Sunday afternoons "happy chaos."  Happy and very loud, I'd say.  But we love it!

Sherri and I are blessed with a second, much larger family - our church family.  Our Life in Christ clan is very special to us.

They are a generous and encouraging group.  We have much in common - one Savior, one confession of faith, one baptism.  We have one mission - live and grow in Christ ~ encourage and reach others.  Our fellowship events are great fun and provide opportunities for the family to grow closer together. We study together, pray together, mourn together, and serve together.

CFW Walther, the first president of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, once wrote that a pastor should see the place where is called by the Lord to serve at as "paradise."  If that's the case, then I'm living in paradise for sure.

Like all families, we sometimes have our troubles.  Some people don't get along with each other. Different folks have different ideas about how to worship or serve or give.  Arguments sometimes happen. Sound familiar?

In those moments we practice what we know.  We love each other in spite of our differences.  We talk to one another and try to understand each other.  We seek forgiveness when we've offended; we give forgiveness when sinned against.

It's hard, sometimes, to live with each other.  But the Holy Spirit, working through God's Word and Sacraments, leads us to live out our new life in Christ, to love both God and our neighbor.

There are places in the state that I truly enjoy - sunrise at the Grand Canyon and sunset at Lake Pleasant.  I like poking around Flagstaff and Sedona.  It's fun to spend a morning at the Butterfly House or an afternoon at the Musical Instruments Museum.

But my Arizona? It's all about family.  Wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Well, get to reading!

Truly, you cannot read Scripture too much, and what you do read you cannot read too well, and what you read well you cannot understand too well, and what you understand well you cannot teach too well, and what you teach well you cannot live too well.

Martin Luther, preface for "The Christian Year of Grace," page six

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Jonah needed a mulligan

Do you know what a mulligan is? If you've played golf, you probably do.

Jonah didn't play golf.  But he needed a mulligan.

Did he get one? Who gave it to him?

Join us this weekend and find out.  Today's service is a communion service and also features music from the Kevin Svec group.  Join us at 5 pm.

On Sunday, there are two worship services - 8 and 10:45 am.  Bible classes for all ages meet all over our campus at 9:20 am.  Come early and enjoy coffee and goodies out on our patio.

Hope to see you this weekend at LICL!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The best compliment a pastor can receive

"He had time for everyone."  That sums up the ministry of our former pastoral assistant, John Pope.

Pastor Pope retired at the end of 2014 (Retired, of course, is a loose word among pastors.  Really, what pastor ever fully retires?).

His ministry at Life in Christ, serving primarily in the care ministry of our church, lasted about six years.

In that time, Pastor Pope made hundreds of visits - to residences, hospital rooms, hospice facilities and rehab centers.

Our people valued the time they had with Pastor Pope.

That was the gift he gave them - time.

I appreciated the fact that Pastor Pope never seemed to be in a hurry.  Oh, he was effective and he got things done.  But he did his work in such a way that left people feeling like he had all the time in the world - for them.

If you needed a minute of Pastor Pope's time, he gave you five.  If you needed an hour, he gave you every bit of that and more.

Our people found him to be a very good listener.  They also relied on his wisdom and good common sense.

And they appreciated the fact that he kept pointing them to Jesus - for peace, for hope, for salvation.

He was (and is) a very effective pastor.

But mostly people appreciated the fact that Pastor Pope had time for them.

That is the best compliment a pastor can receive.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It's a boy!

The call came in yesterday afternoon.  My daughter, Katie, had just gotten the good news.  The little baby she is carrying is a boy.  And she was excited!

But I had to ask? "Are you OK? You had your heart set on a baby sister for Drew" (her two year old son).

She said, "I'm fine.  I'm so happy.  Drew will love having a baby brother.  We're just happy that the baby seems to be healthy and everything is right on track."

I don't mind saying it - Katie is an excellent mother.  I so admire her nurturing and teaching skills. She has patience that I never knew existed.  Baby number two is a blessed baby, indeed.

So now, what will they name the baby? I've heard the name, "George," is making a comeback.  I'd better let Katie know about this development, just in case she doesn't know.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Desert Island Discs

The BBC (also known as the British Broadcasting Company) has for many years featured a weekly program called "Desert Island Discs."  The concept is this: ask folks, if stranded on a desert island, what music they would like to have available to listen to until rescued.  I started thinking about this and I began compiling my own list.  I hope there's a power source for my iPod because my long list could drain the charge easily. Here goes...

Andrew Gold - "Never Let Her Slip Away"  I love the line, "I love her, I'm thinking that I'll never recover."

The Beatles - "I Saw Her Standing There"  With the greatest count off in pop music history - "One, Two, Three, FARR!"

Beach Boys - "Do It Again" - "It's automatic when I talk with old friends..."  Love the use of the word, "automatic."

Bee Gees - "This Is Where I Came In" - one of their later releases and one of their best arrangements with both Robin and Barry Gibb sharing the vocals.

Crowded House - "It's Only Natural"  This song was my introduction to a group that has never quite gotten its due but still has thousands of really devoted listeners.

Emitt Rhodes - "With My Face on the Floor" - Hear this song once and you'll be humming it all day long...and that's a good thing!

Matt Maher - "Christ Is Risen"  My favorite Easter song.  The emotion in Maher's voice as he sings, "He's alive, He's alive" will produce goosebumps.

Neil Young - "Harvest Moon" - One of the best love songs ever written.

Pete Townshend - "Pure and Easy"  From his first solo album - a much superior version to the one the Who produced.

Pharrell Williams - "Happy"  Well, because singing it makes me happy!

Procol Harum - "Nothing But the Truth"  One of their later releases, a powerful rock song with a cold ending that leaves you wanting more.

Rich Mullins - "Boy Like Me/Man Like You"  A song from a great Christian songwriter who left us way too soon.

Sara Groves - "You Are the Sun"  A sweet reminder that if we want to reflect the light of Christ Jesus in the world, we need to be in that light ourselves.

Stuart Townend - "In Christ Alone" & "The Man Who Calmed the Sea"  Simply the best modern hymnwriter in the world today.

Ten Years After - "I'm Going Home" (from the "Woodstock" sound track)  Alvin Lee cooks on this 9 minute track.

Well, I told you it was a long list.

If I could bring complete albums with me, here's what would be in my backpack:

The Beatles - "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
Paul McCartney - "Tug Of War"
Crosby, Stills, Nash - their first album
The Kinks - "The Village Green Preservation Society"
The Who - "Who's Next"
Jars of Clay - "The Eleventh Hour"
Phil Keaggy and Randy Stonehill - "Mystery Highway"

So, what's on your list?

Monday, January 19, 2015

2014 Book Reading List

Last year I read 23 books.  That's basically a book every two weeks.  I think this means that I was probably doing some reading when I should have been doing something else.  Well, anyway, here's the list...

"Scorecasting" by Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Weretheim.  Does home field provide an advantage? You bet it does and "Scorecasting" offers proof and a whole lot more.

"One Way Love" by Tullian Tchividjian.  The grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham makes the point that "grace is all you need!"

"From Doon with Death," by Ruth Rendell.  PD James is my favorite detective fiction writer.  From her I learned about Ruth Rendell, another master at the genre.  This is a Detective Wexford novel, someone who has become a good literary friend.

"Waging Heavy Peace," by Neil Young.  Another book about drugs, sex and rock and roll.  And a bit more.

"Killing Kennedy," by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.  This is the second in their series and while a breezy read, I learned some things I wasn't aware about Kennedy and Dallas.

"The Last Banner," by Peter May.  My favorite basketball player is Larry Bird.  This is the story of the last banner hung by Bird and the 1986 Celtics.

"The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest,"Stieg Larson.  Part of a trilogy of books by an author who died well before his time.  Couldn't put them down.

"Killing Jesus," by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.  I wasn't really interested in reading this book.  But again, while a breezy read, I gained a few insights that I hadn't expected.

"Team of Rivals," by Doris Kerns Goodwin.  This book is the foundation for the Stephen Spielberg movie, "Lincoln."  You can't read this book and come away with less than an attitude of awe for our 16th President.

"Man on the Run," by Tom Doyle.  The story of Paul McCartney following the break up of the Beatles.  The book answers the question, "What do you do after you've been in the Beatles?"

"The Beatles - The BBC Archives," by Kevin Howlett.  So many books have been written about the Fab Four.  Howlett focuses on how the Beatles and the BBC helped each other, especially in the early years of Beatlemania.

"Murder Being Once Done," by Ruth Rendell.  I had to have another dose of Inspector Wexford.

"Game of Thrones," by George RR Martin.  I don't have HBO so I decided to read the book to see what all the hoopla was all about.  An exciting read - looking forward to plowing into the rest of the books.

"Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust," by Ken Scott and Bobby Owsinski.  Scott is a first class music producer and engineer.  I really loved learning about his work with the Fab Four.

"The Son," by Jo Nesbo.  I knew nothing about this author's work until I watched a Charlie Rose interview with Nesbo.  He's the creator of the Harry Hole murder mysteries.  "The Son" is a stand alone book, gripping and thrilling until the very last page.

"The Light of Eiden," by Karen Hancock.  This is a "Game of Thrones" wannabe infused with Christian themes.  I'd read another of Hancock's books.

"Before Amen," by Max Lucado.  This is a rather slight book, only 100 pages (the lengthy studyguide in the back of the book offers additional padding.  Lucado offers encouragement to those who find it hard to get in a regular groove of prayer.

"Just Shy of Harmony," by Philip Gulley.  Book two in the "Harmony" series of books by a gifted author who knows how to spin a simple but spellbinding yarn.

"Johnny Carson," by Henry Bushkin.  Bushkin was the attorney for the "King of Late Night" for years and knew Carson as well as anyone could know Carson.  For all his money and acclaim, Bushkin paints Carson was a tortured and lonely man.

"Fresh Doubt," by Eva Hudson.  This was an e-book, set in London.  Frustrating at times but also suspenseful.

"Unbroken," by Laura Hillenbrand.  This one was, without a doubt, the best book I read in 2014 and I don't understand why I took so long to get to it.  Hillenbrand is a storyteller par excellence.  It is impossible to read this book and not be in awe of Louis Zamperini, his courage and, ultimately, his faith.

"Not a Tame God," by Steven P. Mueller.  A look at the Christology in the writings of CS Lewis.

As far as this year is concern, I've already got a stack of books ready to be read.  So, if you don't mind, I think I'll get to it....

What a day!

Yesterday, my church family held a 10th anniversary celebration for me.

It was wonderful.

So many people put in so much time and energy to make it a special day.

Our people know what a fan I am of the Beatles so the church was decorated in a music theme.

Our great band of musicians performed a number of Beatles tunes - rewritten - to help celebrate the day.

The folks who brought food for the potluck meal out did themselves.

Lots of people said some very nice things and it was humbling.

Who knew 10 years ago that the church that began in the house would have grown in so many different way?

The Lord knew!

"Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard by the Word of God."

Praise God that His powerful Word is working and nurturing faith in the promises of our Lord and Savior.

Praise God that our church has been given the opportunity to witness Christ to so many folks in our community.  And that many have come to faith and have confessed Christ as Lord and Savior.

Praise God that He has surrounded me with so many wonderful believers that look beyond my faults and confirm that God is working in and through me, as I preach the Word and distribute the sacraments, so that they are blessed and trust more and more in their Lord and Savior.

It was a day I won't soon forget.  What a day!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Skeptic Nathanael

Nathanael is skeptical about Jesus.  "What good can come from Nazareth," he sneers.  How does Jesus deal with a skeptic? Come and join us this Sunday at Life in Christ.  Jesus doesn't turn the man away but turns the man's heart so that he might see who Jesus really is.  This is good news for you and me and all of us who sometimes are given to wonder about the work of Jesus in our lives.

Worship takes place on Sunday morning at 8 and 10:45 am.  Christian LIFE Hour starts at 9:20 am with classes for all ages.  Or, if a Saturday service is more convenient for you, try our service this afternoon at 5 pm.  Deacon Danny Baker will lead the service and the Kevin Svec group will provide the music.  Hope to see you this weekend at LICL!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Following instructions to the letter

A housewife called up a pet store and said, "Please send me 30,000 cockroaches at once."

"What in the world do you want with 30,000 cockroaches?" asked the astonished clerk.

"Well. I'm moving today," replied the woman, "and my lease says I have to leave the place in exactly the same condition I found it."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stewardship - A Different Approach

I'm thinking about doing a Bible study on stewardship.

That should kill attendance, right?

After all, in the church when we talk about stewardship, we're talking about money.

But how we use the finances we've been given is just a small piece of Biblical stewardship.

Kurt Senske, in his book, "The Calling," describes how a person can lead a life of significance.

Realizing the calling God has placed upon you and then living out that calling wherever you might be is living the life of a Christian steward.

Senske says people make three mistakes when they try to get a grasp of how to live their lives.

First, he says that asking the question, "What do I want to do with my life?" is the wrong one. Instead, the proper question for a person to consider is, "What does God want me to do with my life?"

Secondly, too much emphasis is placed on distant future goals.  Instead, the better approach is to ask, "Right here and right now, what does God want me to be about?"

Finally, focus should be placed on the "how" as opposed to the "what."  If we are really living in the present, then we will ask ourselves questions like, "How well have I served my spouse today?" "How have I focused on serving my neighbor?" "How well did I use my God-given talents at work today?"

I've not mentioned a word about money.

But when we recognize the calling the Lord has on our lives and as we seek to live out that calling, our ideas and attitudes about everything in our lives will change - including how we use the financial gifts God has given to us.

Anyway, that's what I'm giving some consideration to.  As a pastor I want to do everything I can in my preaching and teaching to help our members strengthen their personal relationships with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Then, I believe, the money issue will take care of itself.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Baskin' Robins

Two robins were sitting in a tree.  "I'm really hungry," said the first one.  "Me too," said the second one.  "Let's fly down and find some lunch."

They flew to the ground and found a nice plot of plowed ground full of worms.  The ate and ate and ate until they could not eat no more.

"I'm so full I don't think I can fly back up to the tree," said the one.  "Me either," said the second.  "Let's just lay here and bask in the warm sun."  "OK," said the first robin.  They plopped down, basking in the sun.

No sooner had they fallen asleep than a big fat cat snuck up and gobbled them up.  As he sat there washing his face after his meal, he thought, "I love baskin' robins."

Please keep your groans to a minimum.  Thank you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Out of the loop!

I was just finishing up the announcements at the 8 am service last Sunday when I was interrupted by one of the little girls in our church.  She handed me a yellow sheet of paper and some others told me to "read it!"

I did.  And it blew me away.

The flyer was an invitation to the congregation to come and attend a pot-luck celebration of my 10th anniversary as (now) Senior Pastor of Life in Christ Lutheran Church.

I've been sick with the flu since nearly the end of December so I've been out of the loop, so to speak. The plan was hatched and announced on January 4 and for that entire week not a single person said a thing to me about this little event.

Obviously, I'm not in tune with the right "grapevine."

You know, the grapevine is where all the news about the church and its people gets distributed.

Not that there is a lot of accuracy in what is reported on the grapevine.  Often the grapevine is a source for half-truths, gossip and innuendo.  The 8th Commandment usually take a beating on the grapevine.

Nevertheless, I had no idea what was being planned.  The news was surprising.  It was humbling.

I was not sure that anyone knew that my 10 year anniversary was coming up.  And I was greatly surprise that anyone would want to celebrate such a thing.

But I am a blessed pastor.  Our is a loving and caring congregation.  Just seeing all the support for the Darling family last Saturday at Pastor Dave's Memorial Service proved it.

And even though there are two big pro football games scheduled for Sunday, I guess a couple of hundred people are planning to come to this potluck (and why not - we've got great cooks in our congregation!).

In the mean time I'm cancelling that search for getting connected to the grapevine.

I've decided that it's much more fun to be surprised.

Monday, January 12, 2015


The new vicar popped into the church office with a printed copy of his yet-to-be delivered first sermon.  Standing in front of the office's new paper shredder, he stared at the machine, a bit perplexed.  The church secretary, sensing he needed help, walked over and asked if she could do something for him.  "Yes," the vicar said, "Can you show me how this thing works?"  "Gladly," she said, taking the pages from his hand and feeding them into the shredder.  "Thanks," said the vicar politely.  "But where do the copies come out?"

George Kottwitz

Saturday, January 10, 2015

'Til We Meet Again

This will be an emotional day at Life in Christ as we remember two from our church family who have gone on to rest in Jesus.

Pastor Dave Darling's Memorial Service takes place at 10 am this morning with a reception to follow. Pastor Dave served as one of our pastoral assistants for almost six years.  He led and grew our Tuesday morning Bible class, assisted with preaching and teaching, help spearhead our calling ministry for sick and shut-ins and utilized his exceptional wood working skills by distributing prayer crosses for many of our members.  He will be sorely missed by our church family.

Davonna Crouch's Memorial Service takes place at 2 pm this afternoon with a reception to follow. Davonna was a teenager with whom I had the opportunity to study the Bible last spring.  Her confession of faith was a joy to me and provided great comfort upon hearing that she had died last month in a horrific car accident.  We will miss her as well.

Saturday's Communion service will begin at 5 pm this afternoon with our Associate Pastor, Marcus Breitbarth doing the proclaiming of God's Word.  Pastor Marcus will also preach at both Sunday services at 8 and 10:45 am.  Christian LIFE Hour is held at 9:20 am and includes classes for all age groups.  Join us this weekend at LICL!

Friday, January 9, 2015

My new year's resolution

Yeah, I know, most folks don't make New Year's resolutions because they don't keep them so why make them, blah, blah, blah.

I'm making one resolution and I intend to keep it.

I resolve to to a flu shot.

I've made fun of our office administrator, Connie, for several years now about flu shots.  She always gets one.  She's offered to take me along with her.  I have arrogantly told her, "I don't need one!"

This year, I needed one.

The day after Christmas I started to feel badly.  By the 28th I thought I had fought off whatever was troubling me.  This was good because we were slated to spend a week of vacation in Southern California.

That evening the flu came with a vengeance.

Fever...chills...shakes...sweats.  My wife said it felt like she was sleeping in a vibrating bed.

Finally went to Urgent Care and got a prescription for antibiotics.

Vacation was shot.  I spent most of the time in bed.  Ate lots of chicken soup (which isn't so bad because my wife makes great soup!).  I started feeling better by the weekend and thought I'd be ready for a new work week.

But I wasn't ready.  I lasted 5 hours in the office on Tuesday and went home.  Saw my doctor the next day.  He suspected that I had picked up a bacterial bug that is going around.  He prescribed a new round of antibiotics.

I got some of the necessary stuff at work done yesterday and came home early.  But I got a good night's sleep and I'm starting to feel better today.

That's good.  I have a group of new pastors coming to visit with whom I'll be spending part of the weekend.  We have two memorial services tomorrow at LICL - for Pastor Dave Darling and Davonna Crouch, both loved by their families, friends and church family.  And Sunday will be a full day as well.

A few people have told me that getting a flu shot this year might not have kept me from coming down with the flu.  Doesn't matter.  If a flu shot can protect me from some of the nasty stuff that leaves you feeling like you went 12 rounds with a professional boxer, you can count me in.

Better than being counted out!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I see you!

One night basketball legend, Pistol Pete Maravich, was lighting up the court, taking impossible shots and making every one of them.

It was a breathtaking performance, one that only a few NBA players could produce.  As Maravich took and made one amazing shot after another, an opposing player, seated on the beach, finally stood up and screamed, "I sees you, Pete! I sees you!"

He was simply saying that he saw more than just an amazing basketball performance.  He was watching something special, a true genius at play.

Today is the Epiphany of Jesus.  It is the day in the church year that we say that Jesus was revealed to the world as God's Son and our Savior.  As the star shown brightly over Bethlehem, leading the Magi to the Christ child, so the love of Jesus shines in the world today, an invitation to come and "adore Him, Christ the Lord!"

As you listen to the Scriptures in church on Sunday and as you read your Bibles daily, look for the special things Jesus does and listen for the special things Jesus says.  He is "the Light of the world."  His Words and actions brought light to the burdened and brokenhearted.  They can do the same for you.

It's truly special that a Word from Jesus can remove the guilt you carry because of sin in your life.  It's special that a Word from Jesus can help you to better love your spouse, your child or even your enemy.  It's special that a Word from Jesus can turn ordinary bread and wine into a heavenly meal that draws you closer to Jesus than you ever imagined.

During these upcoming Sundays in the church year, the glory and light of Jesus will be revealed to us all over again.  Read and listen with joy and amazement.  I believe you'll be saying, "I see you, Jesus! I see you!"