Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wanna see my new-old Bible?

In 1998 I began using CPH's "Today's Light Bible" as my Bible of choice for devotional reading.  I especially appreciated the writing of author Jane Fryer, spread throughout the Bible.

Over that time I've written or underlined something on nearly every page.  So that Bible has become invaluable to me.

As it goes with most books that are regularly used, the original cover began to show signs of wear and tear.  I taped it up a couple of times but I feared that some day the cover was going to come loose from the book itself.

And then it happened, around Thanksgiving 2014.  My Bible slipped out of my hands, hit the office floor with a sickening thud and the damage was done.  Cover separated from book.  And I was very unhappy.

It wasn't long before I began to really miss using my Bible.  I'd heard that bookbinders repaired books and even put new covers on dearly loved books and Bibles.  So I googled "bookbinders" and found Roswell Bookbinding in Phoenix.

Their helpful staff explained that they could put a new cover on my Bible.  The cost would depend, in part, on how much restoration they would need to do to the book (in my case, none because the book held together during its fall on my office floor).

Roswell told me that it would take four to six weeks to recover my Bible.  They got the work done in just under four.  When I picked it up it felt like I was holding a brand new Bible.  But inside were all my notes and other scribbles.  I was thrilled with their work.

New covers cost anywhere from $75 to $130 dollars.  Sounds expensive, right? But if you have a Bible you've used for years, it really is a priceless book.  Money invested on a new cover or on restoration work is money invested well.  My experience with Roswell was first rate.  If you have a Bible that you're not using because the cover has come off, or the pages of the Bible are starting to separate, you owe it to yourself to contact a bookbinder to see what they can do for you.

Monday, March 30, 2015

How will you respond?

Consider the price of this ransom, look carefully at this captive.  He is the Son of God who is greater than all creation.  How will you respond when you hear that such a priceless ransom was paid for your sins?  Will you still want to offer your works done under the law? What is the works of all men, the suffering of the martyrs, and the obedience of the holy angels compared with what the Son of God has given in His death, even death on a cross?

Martin Luther, from "Treasury of Daily Prayer," page 155.

Do you believe?

A friend of my mine maintains that most Christian-themed movies are "cheesy."  He says the acting is usually not worthy of High School Drama Club standards.  The stories, he claims, are utterly predictable and usually disconnected from any reality.  He also believes that these films actually hurt the cause of Christ instead of helping it.

I've encouraged my friend to see the film, "Do You Believe?"

My dear, sweet wife and I saw the film late Sunday afternoon.  I know not a thing about those behind the film.  But I believe they did much to dispel some of the myths about Christian-themed film making.

"Do You Believe" weaves together the stories of a variety of individuals and families who are dealing with a trial of some kind.  At various points these people are faced with the question, "Do you believe...in God's presence, in God's power, in God's mercy...in God's salvation?"  These stories all come together and intersect in essentially the last scene of the movie.

The ensemble cast is excellent, probably the best I've ever seen assembled for a film like this.  Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Lee Majors, Ted McGinley and Cybill Shepherd are among the cast and their presence lends weight to the film.  Young Makenzie Moss steals every scene she is in.  She's done some work in television and it would seem she has a bright future ahead of her.

I don't believe that as Christians we have to go and support every Christian-themed film that is made but I'm glad to recommend this one.  I'm not sure how much longer you'll be able to find "Do You Believe?" in the theatres so I'd go see it soon.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

It's Family Fun Day!

A busy weekend is planned at LICL! This afternoon from 2:30 to 4:30 pm, Family Fun Day will be held on our campus.  They will be a whole host of activities for kids and their parents and grandparents.  Everyone is invited to bring a friend along.  I'm sure the "bouncy house" will get a workout and there's going to be some kind of jousting arena set up.  There'll be good food available too.  Fun for the whole family!

At 5 pm our Saturday service takes place and will include Holy Communion.  Sunday services are held at 8 and 10:45 am and classes for all ages begin at 9:20 in the morning.  Spend some time with us this weekend at Life in Christ!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I fought the garage door...

And the garage door won!

We believe the garage door on our home is the original.  In garage door years it must be a hundred and fifty years old.  About two weeks ago one of the sides started coming off the track.  With my dear, sweet wife's help, I could get the door back on track.  Actually, it was pretty easy. And for a guy who isn't handy, I felt a certain sense of accomplishment that I'd fixed the door myself.

So when the door went off track again yesterday, I thought, "No problem."  Ah, but it became a problem.  The roller did not go easily back into the track.  Sherri said, "We'd better call a repair man." That would have been the wise thing to do.

I often ignore Sherri's advice, usually to my regret.  I told her, "I got this."  So I pulled, I yanked, I pushed. I lifted.  I'd get one side back on track only to pull the other side off track. It became clear I was a beaten man.  Again, the two words, "repair" and "man" would not be used in connection with my name.

The garage door repair man arrived, surveyed the situation and said, "I got this."  And he did.  He fixed the door and did it with much less exertion than I put into it.  While he worked, I went back to writing Sunday's sermon (way more taxing to the mind than the body!).

With the garage door back on track (pardon the pun) I decided to eat lunch and then head down to the office.  I'd finished eating when I saw a scrap of paper on the floor.  I bent over to pick it up and WOW, OH, WOW!

I felt like I'd gotten an electric shock.  My back began to spasm and I ended up down on the floor.

As I lay there I thought, "Is this where Sherri will find me tonight?"  I was home alone (except for the cats who were not going to let my physical troubles disturb their nap time).  

It was obvious that the score was: Garage Door, 1.  George, 0.

After about 20 minutes I was able to get back up and, fortunately, my phone was nearby.  I let Sherri know of my plight and I called Connie at the office and told her that I wouldn't be coming into the office (It's in these moments that I really appreciate our new associate pastor!). I went to my good friend, the ice pack, and we spent the rest of the day together.

How often I seem to mess things up when I let my pride get the best of me.  Given what Martin Luther taught about vocation, if he'd been here he might have said, "Get a repair man, dummy.  That's his job - to fix the door.  Your job is to write sermons.  Get it straight!"

I think that's advice I'll heed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

That's very interesting

My youngest daughter, Katie, her two year old son, Drew and I were driving around town a few days ago.  In the course of our conversation we began talking about my son, Eric, and his wife, Christina and their upcoming doctors appointment.

Katie explained, "Christina will have her ultrasound soon but they are not going to have the doctor tell them if their child is a boy or girl.  Instead, he will write the sex of the child down on a piece of paper.  Eric and Christina will go to a restaurant and hand the paper to the server.  If the baby is a boy, the server is to bring them a chocolate cake.  If it's a girl then they will be served a strawberry cake.  That's how they'll know about their new baby."

I replied, "Wow! That's very interesting."

Then a voice came from the back seat.  It was Drew who said, "That's very interesting."

"What are we talking about?"

I tell you, the kid cracks me up!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Don't take me out to the ballgame.

Why, because it costs too much!

Ed Montini is one of the columnist for the local paper.  I rarely find myself in agreement with anything he writes.  But I was shouting "Amen!" as I read this stuff on Sunday.

He basically says he's falling out of love with Spring Training Baseball.  What used to be a nice, easy way to catch a ballgame without having to pay a fortune has gone by the wayside.

My son-in-law, Geoff wanted to take my daughter and two grandsons to a game.  By the time he added up the cost of the tickets, parking, and refreshments he figured that he could wait and take the family to a regular season Diamondbacks game and pay less!

The reality is that Spring Training has become big business.  And when folks from Seattle or Milwaukee or Chicago are willing to pay such inflated prices, well, that seals the deal, doesn't it?

Peoria Sports Complex is about 5 minutes or so from my house.  But I have no plans to visit this season.  I'll wait for the Diamondbacks to begin discounting tickets (which they will) and then I'll check out a game that I can afford to attend!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Who is Jesus?

That was the question a camera crew asked folks from New York City to answer.  Some of the responses were shocking and surprising.  Clearly, there were people who had no idea about Jesus and His identity.

How would you answer? The writer to the Hebrews has a couple of suggestions that maybe you've not considered.  Find out tomorrow at Sunday worship.  Services take place at 8 and 10:45 am with Bible classes set for 9:20 am.  Or, worship with us today at our regular 5 pm service.  Either way, we hope to see you this weekend at LICL!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hymnody as prayer

The hymn book is also a fine prayer book.  I found a hymn stanza the perfectly captured the condition of my heart today.

Holy Spirit, joy divine, Cheer this saddened heart of mine;
 Yield a sacred, settled peace, Let it grow and still increase.

Holy Spirit, Light Divine, "Lutheran Service Book," #496

God be with you, Elliot!

Last night I experienced one of those moments that makes me grateful to be the senior pastor of Life in Christ.

One of the most faithful attenders of our Thursday evening Bible class is a young man named Elliot. He comes along with his parents and takes an active in each study we do.  The class has given me an opportunity to get to know him and I have really enjoyed watching him grow in his life in Christ.

Elliot will be heading off on Monday to join our Armed Forces.  This is a big step for him, first time away from home.  We're all proud of his desire to serve his country.

Since last night was the last class Elliot will be at for awhile we decided to have a little party.  We purchased a chocolate cake with white icing (Elliot has good taste!).  His parents brought stuff to drink.

What was especially cool to me was to see the number of cards and gifts our class participants brought for Elliot.  Most only know him from the class and not very well.  But that didn't prevent them for expressing their best wishes for Elliot as he embarks on a new adventure.  I heard more than one person say, "We'll be praying for you."

And we will, Elliot.  God go with you on this journey.  May He bless and protect you every day. God's best to you!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jesus lives in us!

As long as we live here on earth, we will encounter temptation after temptation, trouble after trouble. But Jesus lives in us; His cross and life have become our death and new life in our Baptism.  We are - right now - in the process of overcoming the worst the world can throw at us.

Jane Fryer, from the "Today's Light Bible," page 1710

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

For Grace to be Patient

Does impatience get the best of you? Do you often make messes in your life because of your unwillingness to wait and let God do His work in your life and in His own time? If that's you, try on this prayer:

Dear Savior, how patient you have been with me! Too many times I have failed You, yet You have not turned from me, but with compassion You have sought me and drawn me to Your forgiving heart. How thankful I am that you have tenderly pleaded with me through Your Word and Your Christian church! Grant that I might learn from You to be patient with others, thoughtful and considerate, even though they irritate, upset, and disturb my peace of mind.  Remove from my heart all resentment toward those who provoke me by word and action.  Do not let me return evil for evil, unkindness for unkindness, harsh words and caustic comments.

When You, gracious Savior, were mistreated, misunderstood, hurt and bruised in body and sorrowful in soul, You prayed, "Father, forgive them."  Grant me the grace to face the many vexing problems of the day with patience and contentment.  Let me lean on You for strength and guidance and abide in Your time, Savior and Lord.  Amen.

From "My Prayer Book," Concordia Publishing House

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ephesians 3:14-20

Last night, my dear, sweet wife and I were treated by our kids with a stage performance of "Cinderella," at Gammage Auditorium in Tempe.

The place was packed, full of little girls in their best Cinderella dress to old guys like me.  The presentation did not disappoint.  In fact, Sherri and I rate it among the top five stage plays that we've ever seen (Our list includes "Lion King" in Philadelphia; "Phantom of the Opera" & Les Miserables" in London; "My Fair Lady" in Phoenix).

The Rogers & Hammerstein score is a classic and the costuming and staging were simply marvelous. The cast was superb, led by Paige Faure, who played Ella.

Last night as I was reading Faure's bio in the playbill I caught this: Applause to my families- the Durands and Monleys.  Love to Adam and Hank - thank you for go,go,going with me.  Eph. 3:14-20.

We'll, it's not every day that you find a theatre performer offering a witness to the Lord.  I was impressed! If you've not read Ephesians 3 in a while, here are the verses that mean so much to Ms. Faure:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly that all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

It's Saturday but Sunday's coming

So come and worship with us this Saturday at Life in Christ.  A communion service takes place at 5 pm with Pastor Breitbarth preaching (Sunday too!).  Or, if you'd rather, join us at 8 and 10:45 am on Sunday for worship with Christian LIFE Hour following coffee and donuts at 9:20 am.  A spring Ladies Bible Class is underway and the Sunday Bible class begins a three week study of Romans 12 tomorrow.  Come and be part of the worshipping community this weekend at LICL!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Happiness is not...

The norovirus.  I know because I came down with it during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

I'll spare you the gory details but, needless to say, it is nothing I ever want to deal with again.  With all the moaning I was doing, my dear, sweet wife thought that I was dying.  So did my youngest daughter, who's visiting for a few days.  My youngest grandson was all tied up with "Handy Manny" and wasn't too concerned with the status of my health.

This stuff is very contagious so Wednesday evening Sherri washed or Lysoled everything in sight.  I was relegated to the bedroom, or as Katie called it, "The Cesspool."  Not being able to spend any time with my grandson didn't make me feel better.

But now I believe there is hope.  There's a good chance I'll survive this virus.  I missed a lot of work, including Wednesday's worship service (thank you Pastor Breitbarth!).  Hopefully, I'll be ready to go on Sunday.

Now, having escaped The Cesspool it's time for a delicious breakfast of toast and tea, followed later by a delicious lunch of toast and tea and, later tonight I think for dinner I'll have - you got it - toast and tea!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Happiness is...

Hearing your two year old grandson pray the common table prayer before eating.

We sat our on our patio last night, ready to have dinner, when Katie asked Drew to say the prayer.  In his sweet, little voice he prayed:

Come, Lord Jesus
  Be our guest
And let these gifts
  To us be blessed.

That's happiness!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Who you gonna listen to?

The world says the more independent you become, the freer and stronger you'll be; the Gospel says the more dependent on God you become, the freer and stronger you'll be.

Tullian Tchividjain, "Jesus + Nothing = Everything, page 123

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Deaf Ministry Week? Excellent!

Tomorrow will bring a conclusion to Deaf Ministry Week at LICL.  For the past seven days our interpreters have been front and center at worship services; a variety of training sessions have filled classrooms; fellowship with folks from the deaf community has been fun and rewarding.

Today, our Deaf Ministry leaders are sponsoring a booth at the Expo being held at the Colosseum in Phoenix.  They are hoping to connect with others in the deaf community so they can tell them about our Sunday morning 8 am service which features ASL signing.

Tomorrow, we will again be blessed to have with us Pastor Tom Dunseth, who has been our teacher during this past week.  He will assist with signing during the 8 am service and then will hold a special presentation highlighting deaf missions work in China.  It has been an inspiring week with Pastor Dunseth.  He has made the classes most enjoyable for those who have attended them and has been so encouraging of what our Deaf Ministry leaders are trying to do at LICL.

Today at 5 pm our Deacons will lead Vespers Worship.  On Sunday Pastor Breitbarth will preach at the two Sunday services at 8 and 10:45 am.  And Christian LIFE Hour, with classes for all age groups will begin at 9:20 in the morning.  Come and join us for worship at Life in Christ!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Good news from Grandparent's Day

It was early to rise for me and my dear, sweet wife as we dashed from home to Christ Lutheran School for their annual  Grandparent's Day.

We were greeted in the parking lot by our two oldest grandsons, Luke and Ethan, and their Dad, Geoff.

After hugs from both of the boys, Luke tells me, "When I grow up I'm going to be a pastor."  After I told him that that would be neat, he says, "I just want to share the love of Jesus all around the world."

I don't know what the Lord might lead Luke to do.  But I know he probably wouldn't be saying these things if he'd gone to the neighborhood public school.  So, Praise the Lord for Christian Education. And Praise the Lord for the faithful heart of a little boy.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The dear, Last Day

Martin Luther sometimes referred to judgement day as lieber jungster Tag - "the dear Last Day. Judgment day is "dear" for the believer because it is the day that we will enter heaven.  We can look forward to it.  Scholars credit Luther and the Reformation with restoring this perspective to the church.  During the Middle Ages, the Last Day was primarily a day of wrath to be feared.  Luther brought back the attitude of the early Christian church, an attitude of eager anticipation for Christ's return.  It was possible to bring back this attitude, of course, when the doctrine of justification by grace through faith was restored.  Because we are forgiven in Christ, we can look forward to meeting God on the Last Day. 

From "End Times - Jesus Is Coming Soon" by Thomas P. Nass, Northwestern Publishing House, page 232

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I'll take them both

Coming home from work, a woman stopped at the corner deli to buy a chicken for supper.  The butcher reached into a barrel, grabbed the last chicken he had, flung it on the scales behind the counter, and told the woman its weight.  She thought for a moment and then said, "I really need a bit more chicken than that," she said.  "Do you have any larger ones?"

Without a word, the butcher put the chicken back into the barrel, groped around as though finding another, pulled the same chicken out of the barrel and placed it on the scales.

"This chicken weighs one pound more," he announced.  The woman pondered her options and then said, "OK, I'll take them both!" 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Sound of Music

I think I was like a lot of guys.  I didn't get musicals.

You'd have a scene with a man and a woman talking to one another and then one of them would break out in song, the other would join in, this would go on for four or five minutes and then the song would end and the two went back to normal conversation.  It just made no sense to me.

Then I watched - really watched - the Sound of Music (It's 50th anniversary was celebrated yesterday).

Suddenly it hit me.  The music served the story.  The songs often brought depth and meaning where normal dialog might have not given the same emotion.  Now, I'm a convert.  I love musicals. "Phantom of the Opera," and "Les Miz" are two of my favorites.  But nothing beats the Sound of Music.

When my dear, sweet wife and I did some traveling in Europe in 2011, we had a chance to spend a few days in Salzberg, the one time home of the Von Trapp family.  Naturally, we had to take the "Sound of Music" coach tour.  We visited many of the sites where filming took place.  For some reason I couldn't locate most of the pictures we took.  But here are a couple:

1st photo below: Remember the first kiss by Maria and the Captain?  It began to rain and they took refuge in a glass pavilion.  Sherri and I get our own kiss in front of the pavilion.  Note that it's locked. We heard that too many people had hurt themselves running around the benches (like in the movie) so tourists were no longer able to go inside.

2 photo: Remember the scene where the kids are hanging on trees as Captain Von Trapp motors down the road?  Here's the trees and the road.