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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

For those who feel like they can't go on

One night a man had a dream.  He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.  Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.  For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonging to him and the other belonging to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.  He noticed that many times along the path of his life there were only one set of footprints.  He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.  "Lord, you said that once I (began) to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way.  But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints.  I don't understand why when I needed You most You would leave me."

The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you.  During your times of trial and suffering, when you (saw) only one set of footprints in the sand it was then that I carried you."


Monday, September 14, 2015

What more can we say but AMEN!

Our church has started the long process of obtaining a building permit so that we can construct a new Education/Fellowship facility.

We've taken up this task once before.  It wasn't easy.  There were some disappointments.  There was lots of frustration.

Yesterday, at our congregational meeting, we learned about one of those incidents that could have been so discouraging for our building team.  Instead, the Lord used this incident to show His goodness and help.

For our new project we engaged the architectural firm that was so helpful with our first building.

All was going well until it was time for us to begin the process of obtaining the building permit.

Then the firm decided that they would increase their fees.  We had budgeted $80,000.  The firm wanted to more than double their fee.

Needless to say, this development created much frustration and disappointment.

Our group decided to find a new architect.  Having to do this at the 11th hour created much stress and pressure.

But the gentlemen we hired has proved to be a godsend.  He reviewed the plans that had been put together. He made some important suggestions.  He made some significant improvements. He also uncovered a few issues that the first group had completely overlooked.

His fee for the project - $100,000.

It seemed like a fair fee but still over our budget.

However, one of the engineering firms our architect works with is owned and managed by some believers in Christ Jesus.

Once a year they offer their work to a group or ministry pro bono - no charge.  They chose Life in Christ to bless.

Their cost for the work they are doing for us? $20,000.

Which brings the fees of the architect to - guess what? $80,000!

Needless to say, there was much rejoicing and giving thanks for this blessing.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians: Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

What more can we say but AMEN!

Saturday, September 12, 2015


This weekend we offer part two of our four part sermon series on LICL's mission statement: Live and Grow in Christ ~ Encourage and Reach Others.  Pastor Marcus Breitbarth will be speaking at today's service at 5 pm and tomorrow at 8 and 10:45 am.  Do come and join us this weekend at Life in Christ!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Slow down!

Oh, to write like the sainted Peter Marshall...

In the name of Jesus Christ, who was never in a hurry, we pray, O God, that You will slow us down, for we know that we live too fast.  With all of eternity before us, make us take time to live - time to get acquainted with You, time to enjoy Your blessings, and time to know each other.

Turn Friday on its head.  Slow down.  Take your time.  What doesn't get done today will wait until tomorrow, or Monday.  Spend time with the Lord.  Be engaged with your family and friends.  May the Lord answer this prayer for us all today - slow us down, O Lord!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Getting to work on my book

One of the items on my bucket list: write a book.

The biggest challenge to this idea has been time - because I haven't any.

Ministry is more than a full time job.  And there are people in my life with whom I want to spend time - my dear, sweet wife, my kids and grand kids, a few faithful and supportive friends.  I want to have time to read and watch some sports games on television from time to time.

So where would I find the time to write a book?

One day I came to realize that I had already written a book of sorts.

For close to seven years I wrote a weekly devotional message for a little radio program that aired on Monday mornings here in the Phoenix area.

It was a fun challenge - write something engaging that witnessed the love and salvation of Christ Jesus in four minutes.

I also learned about self publishing a book from my friend, Carol.  She's written a number of books and, with the help of a mid-western publishing company, had them printed for sale or to just give away.

Soon it became clear to me - I can do this!

I've just about finished going through all the devotionals I've written.  This has taken the past few months just to do this task.  I'd grab 15 minutes here or 30 minutes there or spend the morning of my day off reading old radio scripts.

Some were pretty good.  Others were OK.  There were some that caused me to wonder, "What was I thinking when I wrote that?"

I hope to soon start writing.  Carol has connected me with her publishing company.  I've got the information I need to format the book so that it can be easily published.  And I'll need someone who can proof the book and make sure the grammar is correct.

Since I'm still doing this in my spare time, I'm not sure how long this next step is going to take.

Still, it's exciting.  I dreamed the other night that I was walking through a bookstore and there was a display of Max Lucado's new book.  And right next to it was my new book.

Neat! Do you think it could happen?


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Are you ready for some football picks?

It's that time of year.  Time for me to pull out the old crystal ball and start making weekly football picks.

My friend, Michelle and I participate in her football pool at work.  It's pretty competitive and I like to win - so that Michelle has bragging rights.  It has nothing to do with me, right?

Of course, folks at her work know that Michele's mastermind behind her picks is her pastor.  So there is a feeling that we're receiving some divine help.

But if that were true, why aren't we winning every week? Where was all the help last year when we went many weeks without even sniffing the victory circle? Clearly, God is not providing us with an advantage over the rest of the competition.

And, frankly, that's a good thing.  Twice in the gospel of Matthew, the work of Jesus is described simply: teaching in the synagogue, proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God and healing the sick and suffering (see Matthew, chapters 4 and 9).

Nowhere is it mentioned that Jesus spent part of each morning in the fall, pouring over the sports page in the "Jerusalem Times", seeking that little bit of extra information that might lead the winning picks.

Nope, we're on our own and so one thing is certain - whether we win or lose, it's not God's fault!

The first game is tomorrow night.  Pittsburgh plays at New England.  We now know that New England cheats - a lot.  I'd better pick them.

As for the rest of my picks, well, I'd better get to work.  Michele will be expecting my picks and I don't want to let her down.  Now where did I put that crystal ball?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A day of sports games!

Connie, our Administrative Assistant at church, is not a big fan of sports.  In fact, she's not a fan at all.

I think she watches one sporting event a year - the Super Bowl.  And she freely admits that she might nap through the game.  (I understand this - some Super Bowl games are less interesting than the commercials that air throughout the game).

Anyway, on some Fridays she'll ask, "What are you going to do this weekend? Watch some sports games?"

"Sports games."  That's a phrase that none of my friends use.  I would never contact my friend, Jerry, and ask him, "Are you going to watch a sports game on Sunday?"  I'd ask, "Jerry, what time do the Packers play?"  And he'll know because Jerry bleeds Packers green and gold.

Anyway, I spent Labor Day doing nothing but watching sports games!

My dear, sweet wife was out of town.  I had the television all to myself.  It was perfect!

I watched Germany take down Scotland in a very exciting UEFA qualifying match.  Germany boasts the best soccer team in the world so to see the Scots play a very competitive game was thrilling. I saw Ricky Fowler come from behind to win a golf tourney.  I saw Andy Murray lose and Roger Federer win at the US Open.  I watched a few innings of the Dodgers/Angels baseball game just to hear the great Vin Scully call the action.  There is nobody better.

And I managed to squeeze in a movie - "The King's Speech."  This film is a true story about friendship and overcoming physical challenges.  Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are magnificent.

By the time Federer had taken control of his match, Sherri arrived home from her trip.  Off went the television.  Sherri filled me in on all she had done while visiting our daughter, Katie, and her family.

So, by my standards, it was a very good day - a day of sports games!

Saturday, September 5, 2015


What does it mean to live in Christ? How is this done? When does this life begin? How is it sustained? What does it mean for a disciple of Jesus? What does life look like when a person lives in Christ Jesus?

Join us this Sunday to learn more.  This month our sermon messages will focus on our mission statement - Live and Grow in Christ ~ Encourage and Reach Others.  We hope to see you at either 8 or 10:45 am.  Or check out our Saturday service which takes place today at 5 pm.  God bless your weekend! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Max does it again!

The king (Saul) tried to give David some equipment. "What do you want, boy? Shield? Sword? Grenades? Rifles? A helicopter?"

David had something else in mind.  Five smooth stones and an ordinary leather sling.

The soldiers gasped.  Saul sighed.  Goliath jeered.  David swung.  And God made His point.

Anyone who underestimates what God can do with the ordinary has rocks in his head!

Max Lucado, from "Upwords Daily Devotional," Aug. 27, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Don't leave home without it!

Hello! I've been out for a few days this week with a migraine headache that just wouldn't stop. Finally feeling much better this morning - just a slight headache that is manageable.

Last night while I was clearing off a messy desk I came across this story.  It made me laugh and I hope it works for you too.

A man desperate for water was walking through the Sahara desert when he saw something in the distance.  Hoping to find water he walked toward the image only to find a little old woman sitting at a table covered with neckties.

"Please," he begged, " can I have some water?"  The woman replied, "I don't have any water, but why don't you buy a tie.  Here's one that goes nicely with your outfit."

The man screamed, "Are you crazy? I don't need tie - I need water!"  The woman said, "OK, don't get all angry about it.  Here's what you do.  Just four miles over that hill is a restaurant.  Go there - they'll give you all the water you want."

The dehydrated man thanked the woman and disappeared over the hill.

Three hours later he came crawling back to the woman and her table.  She said, "What are you doing back here? Didn't you find the restaurant?"

Gathering up his last little bit of strength, the man rasped, "I found the restaurant...they wouldn't let me in without a tie."

I think I'll add this to my collection to the best of my "bad jokes" file.