Friday, July 31, 2015

Top Ten Church Staff Excuses

10) Choir director: "We thought a country-western version of 'A Mighty Fortress is Our God' would go over well."

9) Fellowship chairperson: "I thought everyone would like liverwurst on a stick."

8) Nursery attendant: "I'm allergic to crying children."

7) Secretary: "Proof reading is not one of my spiritual gifts."

6) Organist: "I don't chose the hymns.  I just play the hymns."

5) Custodian: "I didn't think anyone would object to a tip jar on the bathroom counters."

4) Usher: "How was I suppose to know that was their personal private pew?"

3) Associate Pastor: "It was the Senior Pastor's idea."

2) Senior Pastor: "It was the Associate Pastor's idea."

And the number one church staff excuse:

1) Youth leader: I guess the teenagers really should have been locked in."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

And now for something completely different - bumperstickers

A friend of mine sent me a list of funny bumper stickers yesterday.  Perhaps, after reading yesterday's rant about someone in our congregation actively reading the bulletin during the sermon, he figured I need a laugh.  Some of the sticker messages I'd seen on cars but there were others that were new to me.  They include:

Cover me.  I'm changing lanes.

It IS as bad as you think and they ARE out to get you.

All men are idiots and I married their King.

IRS: we've got what it takes to take what you've got.

We are born naked, wet and hungry.  Then things get worse.

Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.

Be nice to your kids.  They'll choose your nursing home.

And finally...

Why is "abbreviation" such a long word?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Could you at least pretend that your listening?

I remember it well.

When the pastor at the church I attended in Mesa, AZ began to preach, one member would whip out his church bulletin and begin reading.  The entire time the pastor was preaching this fellow was glossing over the attendance statistics, the giving amounts, the calendar for the week, and all the newsy announcements.  Then, when the pastor said, "Amen," the disconnected listener would put the bulletin away, dig in his pocket for his offering envelope and then seemingly pay attention throughout the rest of the service.

It bugged me.  Here was our pastor delivering God's saving and life-giving Word to us and this fellow found the church bulletin more fascinating?

To me it was like ignoring the main course of a meal.  "No thanks, waiter, I've had bread and salad. No need for the Filet Mignon, Bring me a bowl of your best sorbet and I'll be fine."

Last Sunday I got rebugged (if that's a word).

While preaching during the second service I noticed one of our members looking at his bulletin.  At first, I thought that maybe he was just reviewing the Old Testament lesson upon which I was preaching.  But then I saw him flip through the bulletin.  It was like he was leafing through the Sunday newspaper!  Apparently, I'd completely lost him and so he decided to spend his time more productively - by reading the announcements!

It's not easy, preaching.  Sermon writing is probably the hardest thing a pastor does in a week. Trying to proclaim God's Word so that it will be meaningful to 350 people is a difficult task.  And I can assure you, 99% of pastors really want their sermons to be engaging, meaningful and help connect people to a gracious and merciful God.

So, if some pastor (like me) is boring you to a slow and painful death during the sermon, would you just pretend that you are listening? I can assure you that your pastor is trying as hard as he can to offer an interesting and helpful sermon.

And, it you can't pretend that you're listening, can you at least keep the bulletin in your lap so everyone around you can't see that your really not into the sermon that day? Thank you.

I feel better now.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Top Ten Signs that the Pastor is Playing too much Golf

10) Refers to the Sanctuary as "the clubhouse."

9) Announces that his clergy apparel is sponsored by Nike, GE, and American Express.

8) During children's message has the kids critique his putting technique.

7) Visitors to his office are offered coffee or an "Arnold Palmer."

6) Replaces carpet in the narthex with a putting green.

5) Refuses to remove his "Titleist" cap during worship.

4) Can't decide if he wants to visit Wittenberg, the home of the reformation or St. Andrews, the home of golf.

3) Bulletin mistakes are called "bogeys."

2) Identifies five new mission fields for the church.  Coincidentally, they are all golf courses.

And the number one sign that the pastor is playing too much golf:

1) Regrets that he named his first born son, "Tiger."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Go fishing!

Like many pastors I am always saving interesting newspaper and magazine articles for later use in sermons, Bible studies and other communication.  Earlier this week I stumbled upon something I had forgotten all about.  What I am about to share came from the little devotional, "Our Daily Bread, March - May 1996).  It sounds like a real conversation.  Here is goes...

Philip Melancthon, the great Reformation theologian, once said to his friend, Martin Luther, "This day you and I will discuss the governance of the universe."  What Luther said in response was unexpected: "This day you and I will go fishing and leave the governance of the universe to God."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Another way to look at loneliness

We'll try anything to get rid of our loneliness.  Could it be that loneliness is a gift? A gift from God? A friend turns away.  Your spouse didn't understand.  The church is dull.  One by one He removes the options until all you have left is God.

Max Lucado, 5/26/15 edition of his weekly email - excerpt from "Traveling Light"

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The "Monster of Uncertainty"

Let us thank God, therefore, that we have been delivered from this monster of uncertainly and that now we can believe for a certainty that the Holy Spirit is crying and issuing that sigh too deep for words in our hearts.  And this is our foundation: The Gospel commands us to look, not at our own good deeds or perfection, but at God as He promises, and at Christ Himself the Mediator.  (God) says" "I am giving my own Son into death, so that by His blood He might redeem you from sin and death."

Here I cannot have any doubts unless I want to deny God altogether.  And this is why our theology is certain: It snatches us away from that we do not depend on our own strength, conscience, experience, person or works but depend...on the promise and truth of God, which cannot deceive.

Martin Luther
Luther's Works, Volume 26

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Focus on God!

Focus on giants - you stumble.

Focus on God - your giants tumble.

Max Lucado

Life in Christ has services today at 5 pm and tomorrow at 8 and 10:45 am.

Join us as we focus on God, give Him glory and receive His good gifts!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Top Ten Signs the Pastor Could Have Used Another Year at the Seminary

10)  His stewardship series: "The church has plenty of money.  Unfortunately, it's in your pocket."

9) Announces that the church now accepts IOU's.

8) Relies too much on quotes from famous speeches: "Ask not what your pastor can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your pastor!"

7) Believes church discipline should be carried out the old fashioned way - by stoning!

6) Visitors are unable to see him in his office unless they know the "secret knock."

5) In the children's message teaches the children how to do the Macarena.

4) Prints bulletins in the "original Hebrew."

3) In Bible class tells everyone to read the Old Testament from right to left.

2) Preaches on his favorite Bible verse, "God helps those who help themselves."

And the number one sign the pastor could have used another year at the Seminary:

1) Refers to the LWML group as a bunch of "hot babes."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Quote of the day

"Yesterday was the first time she said people wanted to buy lungs," she told the undercover buyers. "Some people want lower extremities, too, which, that's simple, that's easy.  I don't know what they are doing about it, I guess they want muscle."

"We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that so I'm not gonna crush that part.  I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact."

Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Senior Director of Medical Services.

I am sickened by these comments.

I wonder what pain is being caused to these little ones as they are crushed below and above, as Dr. Nucatola so indelicately puts it.

What can we do to encourage women who are contemplating an abortion to let their babies live?

May the Lord motivate all of us who cherish life and want to see all of this killing ended.

Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Be faithful! Worship!

Email can really pile up when you've been on vacation.

Last Wednesday I returned to work after being away for three weeks.  I sat down, turned on the computer and went to my email.

They came.  And they came.  And they came some more.

672 emails! 6-7-2!

Never had I ever had so many folks wanted to communicate with me.

To be honest, not all of the emails were written directly to me. I'm on a bunch of emailing lists (although I'm not sure how that happened).  I receive a couple of daily devotionals.  I also get a couple of weekly updates from folks who work in and write about the church.

One of those folks I read regularly is Thom Rainer.  He has a deep love for the church and has been offering encouragement to pastors and their churches for years.

One of his email reports quickly got my attention.  Rainer wrote:

Several years ago, we considered the most active church member who attended church three times a week...Do you know how much that perspective has changed in just a few years? Today, many pundits define an active church member as someone who attends church events or services at least three times a month.

In the meaning to the Third Commandment, Martin Luther wrote: "We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it."

The question is, "How do we despise preaching and the Word of God?

In confirmation classes we teach that this happens when we do not attend public worship...when we do not use God's Word and Sacraments...when we used these gifts of God negligently or carelessly.

In the Means of Grace, God offers forgiveness which gives peace.  God provides comfort which calms anxious hearts.  God gives the promise of life eternal which strengthens hope - for today and forever.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you made be careful to do everything written in it.  Joshua 1:8

I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells.  Psalm 26:8

Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.  Luke 11:28

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly and as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16.

May God empower our church to preach the sweet Gospel message of forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus so that the Holy Spirit might work to strengthen faith and move us all to faithfully worship at every opportunity!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Oh, give me a pity, I'm on a committee!

As senior pastor of a growing church, I spend some of my time each week attending committee and board meetings.  While the work of committees is very important and service on such committees a genuine way to serve in the church, I often tell people that the real joy of serving is being involved in a church ministry.  There you really get to see the Lord at work in the lives of His people.

A number of years ago I came across a poem that seemed to capture the frustration that sometimes comes when serving on a committee.  It went something like this:

O give me a pity, I'm on a committee, Which means that from morning to night...We attend and amend and contend and defend, Without a conclusion in sight.

We confer and concur, we defer and demur, And reiterate all of our thoughts...We revise the agenda with frequent addenda, And consider a load of reports.

We compose and propose, we suppose and oppose, And the points of procedure are fun...But though various notions are brought up a motions, There's terribly little gets done.

We resolve and absolve, but never dissolve, Since it's out of the question for us...What a shattering pity to end our committee, Where else could we make such a fuss!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Come meet the Lord in worship

God has given us Baptism, the Sacrament of the Altar and Absolution to bring Christ very close to us, so that we can have Him not only in our heart but also on our tongue, so that we can feel Him, grasp Him and touch Him.  Martin Luther

Come close to Jesus this weekend as you worship at LICL.  Saturday worship begins at 5 pm; Sunday worship times are 8 am and 10:45 am.  Sunday school and Bible classes meet at 9:20 am.  Come and join us!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Top Ten Signs your Church Growth Consultant is Off-Kilter

10) Consultant believes that the church cannot gain new members by singing old hymns and songs; forbids the band to play any song written before 2005.

9) Consultant has pastor begin each sermon with a joke "just like Joel Osteen."

8) Consultant creates outrage in the congregation by cancelling the coffee and donut hour and installing vending machines.

7) "If you follow my plan, work my plan and don't deviate from my plan, I guarantee that I will fill up this church with new members.  With God's help, of course."

6) Consultant instructs the pastor to always be smiling to project warmth during the service; this becomes especially off-putting during confession and absolution.

5) To increase attendance, consultant creates "Bring your Pet to Church Sunday" which infuriates the custodian on Monday.

4) Consultant urges the church to focus on the important 18-34 demographic group of soccer dads with 2 and 1/2 children who drink microbrews and make less than $30,000 a year.

3) Consultant recommends a new way to increase attendance: let guests and visitors take money out of the collection plate.

2) Consultant replaces small group ministry with a "smaller group ministry" consisting of one person or less per group.

And the number one sign that your Church Growth Consultant is off-kilter is:

1) Consultant suggests that the pastor change his name to "Max Lucado."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

It's all between you and God

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.

  Forgive them anyway.

If your are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.

  Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.

  Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.

  Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, there may be jealousy.

  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.

  Be good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.

  Give the world the best you have anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.

It was never between you and them anyway.

Kent M. Keith

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  

Colossians 3:17

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Can anything good come from losing?

To get beat is very healthy, particularly when you've given it your very best effort. If you win every time,  you don't learn anything.  You don't learn anything about yourself.  You don't learn anything about the game.  You don't learn anything about life.

Jack Nicklaus

From, "Winning All Around," by Michael Bamberger in Sports Illustrated, Jan. 16, 2015, page 54.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A prayer for Saturday as you prepare for worship tomorrow

O Lord, prepare our hearts to receive Your Word tomorrow.  Silence in us any voice but Yours, that hearing, we may also put Your Word into practice in our daily lives. Through Christ our Lord, we pray.  Amen.


Life in Christ has worship this weekend at 5 pm on Saturday and at 8 and 10:45 am on Sunday.  Bible classes for all ages begin at 9:20am.  A blessed time is guaranteed for all.  Come!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Top Ten Signs the Pastor Is Trying too Hard to Connect with the Youth

10) Builds Bible studies based on the songs of Lady Gaga.

9) Misses Sunday worship after beating the youth in a hot dog eating contest the preceding Saturday.

8) Had his alb tie-dyed.

7) On Youth Sunday  makes sure the organist plays hip contemporary Christian songs like "They Will Know We Are Christians by our Love" and "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands."

6) To impress the kids he gets a tattoo - of Luther's Rose.

5) Wants to be called "Pastor Shaggy P."

4) Mistakenly believes "LOL" means "Lots of Luther."

3) Gives his sermon on Youth Sunday entirely in hash tags.

2) Disappointed the youth are not interested in seeing his extensive collection of cassette tapes.

And the number one sign the pastor is trying too hard to connect with the youth:

1) Breaks an ankle after confidently saying,"Sure, I can ride a skate board!"

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The agony of defeat

Have you ever had a Laura Bassett moment?

Bassett is the defender who accidentally kicked the ball into her own goal, giving Japan a 2-1 victory over her England team in Women's World Cup soccer yesterday.

England, a country with a soccer rich tradition, has not been a power in the sport for some time now. Bassett and her teammates inspired their country with their improbable run in the tournament.  After the game Bassett's coach and teammates praised her for being the glue behind the team, a person who was greatly admired by all.

After the game it was heartwarming to see Bassett's teammates come to her. They hugged her and spoke words of encouragement and love.  It was neat to see her friends come to her side.

In the church we sometimes sing, "What a Friend We Have In Jesus."  But that is more than just a nice thought.  Jesus does call us His friends.

"You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.  Therefore I do not call you servants, for the servant does not know the will of his master.  I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:14-15.

When we are inconsolable because of mistakes we've made or sins we committed, we too have a friend to turn to.  Jesus comes to us in His Word and speaks comfort and absolution. Jesus meets us at the communion rail and assures us as we receive His body and blood in the supper, "This is...for the forgiveness of sins."

It said much about the character of the team from England that they stood steadfast by their friend and teammate.  You and I can be glad that we too have a Friend who stands by us.  Jesus calls us His friends.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Excuses, excuses

Did your parents ever have to write a note to a school teacher asking that you be excused from class? My dear, sweet wife bought me a devotional book from author and humorist, Ken Davis, that offered some really funny notes from parents. 

My son is under a doctor's care and should not take physical education today.  Please execute him.

Please excuse Lisa for being absent.  She was sick and I had her shot.

Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.

And my favorite:

Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday.  We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it was Monday, we thought it was Sunday.