Saturday, October 31, 2015

No Tricks, No Treats

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

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

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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

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

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

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

9) You help old ladies across the 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Poisonous Weeds

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

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Love Casts Out Fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trunk or Treat!

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

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

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

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bonhoeffer on Christ and the cross

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

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I'd rather have Jesus

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

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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New Member Sunday

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

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

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

Hope to see you this weekend at LICL!

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Friday Funny - part three

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

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

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

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

Day two saw the movers come and collect her things.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Looking at the big picture

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

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

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

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

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

Our music ministries continue to bless our church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A reciprocal relationship

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

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Welcome Will Matthew Spicer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dispatch and Match

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Friday Funny (rerun)

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

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

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

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

Have a nice (and bug-free) weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Gearing Up For the Weekend

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

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

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

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

Monday: recuperate

Well, let's get started!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What you really believe

Here's something to chew on today...

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

From "The Original Jesus" - page 47

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pushing through the pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Original Jesus

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Giving thanks for Chuck

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

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

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

Join us this weekend at LICL!

Friday, October 2, 2015

When were you saved?

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

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

Thursday, October 1, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How will the Cardinals do in the playoffs?

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

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

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

Play (more) ball!