Saturday, November 28, 2015

Oops, forgot one

Yesterday I wrote about the holiday themed movies that my family watch each year.  My youngest daughter pointed out to me last night that I'd forgot one - "The Preacher's Wife" - starring Denzel Washington and the late Whitney Houston.  The film always reminds me of just what a great singer Whitney Houston was.  And she did it so effortlessly! Anyway, add that film to the list.

Otherwise, Life in Christ will have a communion worship service today at 5 pm and two services tomorrow at 8 and 10:45 am.  Sunday school for all ages and adult Bible class meets at 9:20 am. Come and join us this weekend at LICL!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Movies, movies, movies!

My youngest daughter and her family are staying with us for the holidays.  As she was unpacking their clothes and gear she presents to me a small container.  "What's in here?" I ask.  "Movies, Daddy. It's our tradition!"

So in the next four weeks we'll be watching...

"The Nativity Story," a telling of Joseph and Mary's journey to Bethlehem.

"The Holiday" Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslett trade homes for the holidays.  The swap brings with it unexpected blessings.

"Home Alone" While his family is in Paris, a young boy more than survives while outfoxing a couple of bumbling thieves.  Macaulay Culkin becomes a star!

"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" I prefer the edited version of this film.  Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) wants to have a good old family Christmas.  The results are disastrous.  

"Love Actually" This is Richard Curtis' best film.  The message is simple - the meaning of Christmas is love.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" The word, "classic" is often overused.  But not in this case.  This is a classic, the best Christmas program you'll watch this season.  The producers did not want Linus to speak, word for word, the Christmas story found in Luke, chapter two.  Charles M. Schultz dug in his heals and insisted.  I'm glad he did.

Tis the season to be super busy. I hope you'll find the time to sit down with your family and friends and enjoy your favorite Christmas films.  Make sure there's plenty of popcorn!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What is pride?

Define "pride" as the sinful nature to advance one's self.

Nathan R. Pope, "Motivation for Ministry," page 25

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Day Off

Monday is my day off and it was a fun and productive day.

8:30 am - Golf with one of our Deacons, Danny Baker.  We've been playing together for a number of months now (although we did take a summer break - too hot to play golf!) and really enjoy a nine hole course in Glendale.  We've probably played our worst round yesterday and still had a good time.

10:15 am - A quick look-see of the book section at my favorite Savers store. No bargains were to be found.

11:30 am - Doctors appt.  At least no blood was taken this time!

12:30 pm - Lunch while watching an episode of "New Tricks," a British detective show that I've come to rally enjoy.

1:30 pm - Power Nap!

2:00 pm - I spent a couple of hours looking over the Advent texts I'll preach in December and have come up with a tentative sermon series entitled "The News at Advent."  The working titles for each of the texts:

  "You have to hear the bad news to appreciate the good news" - Dec. 6
  "There's more to the news than meets the eye" - Dec. 13
  "The news makes you jump for joy" - Dec. 20
  "The best news of all" - Dec. 24

4 pm - I continued reading a book entitled, "The Girl on the Train," by Paula Hawkins.  This thriller spent months at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers List.  I'm starting to see why.

5:30 pm - My youngest daughter, Katie, her husband, Josh, and their two kids are spending the Thanksgiving holiday with us.  We enjoyed dinner together and playing with the two grandbabies. Josh and I also watched the second half of Monday Night Football, hoping that New England would be beaten by Buffalo.  Didn't happen.

10 pm - Lights out

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Skateboard

What happens when a fellow who hasn't ridden a skate board in 20 years decides to hop on one for old times sake? Join us tomorrow at our Sunday worship services and I'll tell you.  Just promise not to laugh too hard!

Sunday worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am with Sunday school sandwiched in between.  Or, you can join us this evening at 5 pm.  The Kevin Svec group will be providing the music.

Have a blessed weekend! Hope to see you at LICL!

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Friday Funny Returns!

An energy savvy consumer replaced all the windows in her home.  She had expensive, double insulated, energy efficient window installed.

12 months later, she received a call from the contractor, complaining that the work had been done for a year but she had failed to pay for it.

The consumer replied, "The salesman who sold me those windows told me that in one year they would pay for themselves"

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sermon for Betty Jo Droeg Memorial Service

Betty Jo Droeg Memorial
Martin Luther once said that a thankful heart was the greatest form of worship we could offer to God.
If that is true, then Betty Jo turned a hospital room into a worship center last Friday, November 13.
John Denninger asked if a pastor could go visit Betty Jo at the rehab hospital at Arrowhead.  I was the guy who was contacted.  And I’m glad I was.
I’ve made hospital visits to people I did not know.  It’s in those times when you’re not sure what to expect.  How will the person be feeling? Do they want to be visited? Will they want to talk or will I have to carry the conversation along?
I quickly discovered, as I talked with Betty Jo, that I had no reason to worry.  She welcomed me warmly and was glad I came.  She shared with me about her physical problems.  She hoped to return home soon.
We talked about her husband and what it was like to be a widow.  She spoke about how much she loved her family. 
We also talked about some spiritual concerns she had.  We discussed the importance of forgiveness, remembering that as God has forgiven us for the sins we’ve committed, we, too, are to forgive those who have sinned against us.  We remembered the price Jesus paid to be our Savior, dying on the cross to pay the price for our disobedience and faithlessness.  We rejoiced that God’s salvation is free and that everyone who embraces Jesus, by faith, has eternal life.
As we wrapped up our conversation I asked her if she wanted me to come back and bring my communion kit and she excitedly said, “Yes.”  I promised to see her again.  I’d planned on visiting this past Thursday.
Except that when I called to find out what time I could come as see Betty Jo, the hospital said she’d been discharged.  I thought that was good news! But I soon learned it was anything but good news.
Via a text, Middy told me Betty Jo had been discharged so that she could be admitted to Arrowhead Hospital.  Her health was quickly declining.  Could I come over?
I did so and it was sad to see how much Betty Jo had slipped in just a week.  Middy told me that she had not always been responsive but when I called out to her, she recognized who I was.  I told her I was sorry that she had to be in the hospital. And I expressed again to her how much I had enjoyed our earlier visit and how wonderful it was that I could share the love of Jesus with her.
Then Betty Jo spoke.  Three words.  She said them over and over.  “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”
It was like a litany.  It was a litany of thanksgiving offered to the one most worthy of our thanks and praise, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Betty Jo’s response was not unlike a man who we can read about in the Bible – we find him in St. Luke, chapter 17.
Verse 11 starts out: “Now on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.”  The fact that Jesus was anywhere near the region of Samaria is a huge surprise.  The folks there didn’t like Jewish people.  Jewish people hated Samaritans.  If you were a Jew and traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem, you avoided going anywhere near Samaria.  Why was Jesus so bold?  Here’s why.
Listen to verses 12-13: “As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him.  They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Leprosy, in the time of Jesus, was like having a death sentence placed on your head.  There was no cure for this horrible, disfiguring disease.  The ten men stood at a distance because if you were a leper you were not allowed to come close to anyone.  You lived away from the village, away from family and friends.  You lived until you died.
What does Jesus do? He does what He always does for sincere, hurting people.  He answered their prayer.  He told them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  And as they went, they were cleansed.  Healed.  Free of the horrible disease.
All ten men had their prayer answered by Jesus.  But only one came back to thank Him for the miraculous healing that had taken place.  Listen to verses 15 & 16: “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he (the man at Jesus’ feet) was a Samaritan.
The least likely is the only one who comes back to worship Jesus and to give Him thanks for being made whole again.  And I can just imagine the man, kneeling in the dirt, holding Jesus around His ankles, repeating over and over, “Thank you, Jesus,  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”
Just like Betty Jo.
It was if a floodgate had been opened in that hospital room.  Her thanks to Jesus came cascading over us, leaving Middy in tears and me in awe.
It all came out and I believe Betty Jo was thanking Jesus for:
            Salvation…Mark 10:45 – “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
            Forgiveness…Ephesians 1:7 – “In (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of His grace.”
            Eternal Life…John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I believe Betty Jo was thanking Jesus for His steadfast love, His gifts of grace, His inexhaustible patience and mercy.
I also believe that Betty Jo knew exactly how ill she was and that Jesus was truly her only hope, her only comfort in her time of need. 
What more can a person say but “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”
After Middy had to leave I stayed for a while longer and I sang some songs about Jesus to Betty Jo.  “Jesus loves me.”  “What a friend we have in Jesus.”  “I am Jesus’ little lamb.”  “My hope is built on nothing less.”  And it was wonderful – she sang with me, she sang with a heart filled with faith in the Lord’s promises.
When I left I said to Betty Jo, “I’ll see you later.”  And that is true.
I didn’t see her again before she passed into the arms of Jesus.  But I will see her again.
I will see Betty Jo on “Judgment Day”, or as I like to call it, “Resurrection Day.”
On that day, Jesus will come again, in all His magnificent glory.  All who are dead will be raised to life.  He will judge the living and the dead.  Those that believed in Jesus and trusted Him for forgiveness and eternal life will be gathered up and taken to heaven.  And those who rejected Jesus as Savior will spend an eternity apart from God.
So I’ll see Betty Jo again.  We’ll talk.  We’ll hug.  I pray that I’ll see you there too.

We’ll be gathered around the throne of God, offering our worship and praise.
And Betty Jo has given me the words to say once I enter those heavenly gates – “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”  Amen. 

Pastor George Spicer

November 18, 2015

Humility is...

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

C.S. Lewis, from "Mere Christianity"

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A can of worms

A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to the Sunday sermon.  Four worms were placed in four separate jars.

The first worm was placed in a container of alcohol.

The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.

The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.

The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.

At the conclusion of the sermon, the minister reported the following results:

The first worm in the alcohol - dead.

The second worm in cigarette smoke - dead.

The third worm in chocolate syrup - dead.

The fourth worm in good clean soil - alive.

So the minister asked the congregation what they could learn from the demonstration.

A elderly woman was sitting in the back.  She quickly raised her hand and said, "As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!

That pretty much ended the service!

From "Lighten Up and Live" by Ken Davis, BroadStreet Books

Monday, November 16, 2015

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Tis the season for outrage.

You're checking out of your favorite store when the cashier hands you your receipt and wishes you "Happy holidays!"

For the past few years Christians have practically become unglued over this failure to recognize the season for what it really is - the Christmas season.

And what is the greeting for the Christmas season? Merry Christmas, of course!

Unfortunately, our outrage makes us easy targets for criticism.

I'm sure newspaper columnists and on-line bloggers can't wait to tell how bigoted and self-righteous we are, insisting that people call the season what it is - the season of celebrating Christ's birth and preparing for Christ's second Advent.

I say, let's take the steam out of their sails.

Rather than getting all hot and bothered because people won't wish us a Merry Christmas, ignore them.

If some cashier in a store sends you on your way with "Happy Holidays," respond with "Merry Christmas."

If at the office Christmas party someone invites you to sample their "Holiday Cookies," smile, take one and then offer them a "Christmas cookie."

Complaining about this lack of respect for the things we deem important isn't getting Christians anywhere.

Instead, be who you are.

A person who once was lost in sin but found by Jesus the Christ.  Rejoice that you have been "saved by grace through faith, and this is not of yourselves - it is the gift of God, not of works so that no person can boast."  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Be who you are.

A person who has been so touched by the compassionate love of Jesus that you respond in turn by showing that same love to the people around you - even those who can't seem to speak "Merry Christmas" to you.

What do we care if our favorite coffee shop serves our "coffee grande mocha" in a plain red cup?  Take the cup and say to the barista "Merry Christmas."

Be who you are.

Organize a toy drive for kids living in shelters.  Collect coats and sweaters for the homeless living on the street.  Take a food basket to a family who is going through a tough time and needs help.

Who are we serving? The Lord Jesus Christ! "What ever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."  (Colossians 3:23)

Christians have been getting criticized for 2000 years now.  Expect it to continue.

Be who you are.

Love God.  Love your neighbor.  Witness Christ when the opportunity presents itself.  Do so in a winsome way.  Do so without shame or embarrassment.  Help those who need help wherever you can.  Let the light of Jesus' love shine brightly in your life.

And be sure to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Here's the schedule

For Saturday, you can worship at LICL at 5 pm.  Holy Communion will be celebrated.

For Sunday, you can worship at 8 or 10:45 am.  Holy Communion will be celebrated at the early service and the sacrament of Holy Baptism will be observed at the later service.

Also, Sunday brings with it Bible study classes for all ages at 9:20 in the morning.

Hope to see you for worship, prayer, study and service this weekend at Life in Christ!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Top Ten Failed Christian TV Reality Shows

10) "A Healing Service Sent Me to the ER"

9) "American Horror Story - Accordion Praise and Worship"

8) "So You Think You Can Save Yourself"

7) "PU to PLI"

6) "Total Divas - Pastor's Wives Edition"

5) "Say Yes to the Alb"

4) "Gordon Ramsey's Potluck Nightmares"

3) "My Strange Addiction to Communion Wafers"

2) "Keeping Up with the Olsteens"

And the number one failed Christian TV reality show:

1) "Real Housewives of the ELCA"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A lesson on motivation

The loaded minivan pulled into the only remaining campsite.  Four children leaped from the vehicle and began feverishly unloading gear and setting up the tent.  The boys rushed to gather firewood, while the girls and their mother set up the camp stove and cooking utensils.

A nearby camper marveled to the youngsters' father, "That, sir, is some display of teamwork."

The father replied, "I have a system.  No one goes to the bathroom until the camp is set up."

From "Homiletics" magazine, May 2010, page 35

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Why it's good to remember

I'm working my way through Max Lucado's latest, "Glory Days," when Lucado describes a conversation he had with his daughter, Andrea.

Lucado is worried about meeting a book deadline. Andrea asks a simple question, "Have you ever missed a deadline before?" Lucado answers, No."

Andrea then asks, "So God has helped you fifteen times already?"  This time Lucado answers, "Yes."

"He's helped you each time? If he has helped you fifteen different times, don't you think He will help you this time?"

Lucado goes on to write, "Satan has no recourse to your testimony.  Your best weapon against his attacks is a good memory."

Now, I don't want to quibble with a great writer like Lucado.  I would say that our best weapon against wily Satan is the mighty Word of God.

Still, remembering what God has done for you is one of the best ways to see your way past the temptations and lies of the devil.

Remembering is the good advise Asaph gives us in Psalm 77.

Asaph is troubled.  And he's wondering if God even cares, if God is even interested in his life.

He asks, "Has (God's) steadfast love forever ceased...Has God forgotten to be gracious...Has He in anger shut up His compassion?"

Ah, but then the psalmist writes (in verse 11): "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old."

And, as Asaph remembers, he is comforted.  He is reminded of God's holiness and greatness.  He remembers God's redeeming power.  He goes all the way back to the freeing of Israel from Egyptian slavery.  He remembers how God parted the sea, providing an escape for the people.  I love verse 19: "Your way was through the sea, Your path through the great waters; yet Your footprints were unseen."

What trouble are you facing today? Another delay in scheduling the job interview, the job you so desperately need? Unrelenting pressure of raising teenagers who want to start exerting their independence? Conflict with a co-worker which makes going to work an unbearable experience?

Instead of worrying, try remembering.

Remember how God has opened doors of opportunity for you in the past.  If He did so before, can't he do so again?

Remember how God has helped you raise your kids right up to this very day.  If he's given you the wisdom and patience to love and nurture your kids to their teen years, doesn't it only make sense that He will keep on helping you now?

Remember how God has given you the courage and knowledge to deal with difficult people in the past.  Is your present situation too hard for God to help you solve?

Why is it good to remember? So we can be reassured that God's steadfast love has not ceased...that He has not forgotten to be gracious...that He has not closed off His compassion to us.

Remember...and then rejoice.  God is with you in your trouble - even if you can't see His footprints!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why meditate on the names of God?

            When you are confused about the future, go to your Jehovah-raah, your caring shepherd.  When you are anxious about provision, talk to Jehovah-jireh, the Lord who provides.  Are your challenges too great?  Seek the help of Jehovah-shalom, the Lord is peace.  Is your body sick? Are your emotions weak?  Jehovah-rophe, the Lord who heals you will see you now.  Do you feel like a soldier stranded behind enemy lines?  Take refuge in Jehovah-nissi, the Lord my banner.

            Meditating on the names of God reminds you of the character of God.  Take these names and bury them in your heart.

            God is:
            The shepherd who guides,
            The Lord who provides,
            The voice who brings peace in the storm
            The physician who heals the sick, and
            The banner that guides the soldiers.

            From the Great House of God by

            Max Lucado

Monday, November 9, 2015

Meet Martin Luther

You would assume that those who attend Lutheran Churches know at least something about Martin Luther.

But I've been a little surprised but very encouraged by the response I've received to the Sunday morning Bible class we been going through on the life of Luther.

One person said to me, "I guess I really didn't understand what the Reformation was all about. Luther was fighting for people to read and learn the Bible."

Someone else said, "Either Luther was stubborn or really courageous.  Either way, it took guts to stand up to the Pope and the King."

Finally, one of our members said, "I'm going home to check out Amazon and buy some books on Luther.  Got any recommendations?"

Here's two: "Here I Stand" by Roland Bainton is a classic.  It provides a very thorough review of the reformer's life.  A newer version is 'Luther the Reformer" by James Kittelson.  I first read Kittelson at the seminary.  Since then I've reread his book twice and continue to discover new revelations about Luther.

If you're looking to sink your teeth into Luther I highly recommend the books by Kittelson or Bainton.

Get ready to be amazed by the life of Martin Luther!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Oh, Saturday!

Well, let's see...We'll take my grandson to his soccer game today.  Maybe have a little lunch (Zinburger would be nice).  Head back home to catch some of the ASU game (and probably get royally frustrated as they make mistake after mistake).  Write prayers and review tomorrow's service. Watch a movie with my dear, sweet wife.

Whatever you decide to do this Saturday, remember that LICL has a service today at 5 pm.  Deacon Jerry Klink will preach.  Tomorrow, worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am.  It is Operation Barnabas Sunday and so we'll honor the veterans who worship with us, giving thanks to God for their service to our country.

Come and join us!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Top Ten Things Your Mom Would Never Say To You

10) "You ate the entire cake? That's OK.  I'll just make another."

9) "How on earth can you see the television sitting so far back? Move closer!"

8) "Yeah, I used to skip school a lot, too."

7) "Just leave all the lights on in the house.  It makes the place more cheery."

6) "Let me smell your shirt.  Yeah, it's good for another week."

5) "Go ahead and keep that stray dog, Honey.  I'll be glad to feed and walk him every day."

4) "Well, if Timmy's Mom says it's okay, that's good enough for me."

3) "The curfew is just a general time to shoot for.  It's not like I'm running a prison around here."

2) "Don't bother wearing a jacket - the wind chill is bound to improve."

And the number one thing your Mom would never say to you:

1) "I don't have a tissue with me - just use your sleeve."

Culled from Homiletics Magazine

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Overcome evil with good

A friend of mine had been wronged by another person.  When I asked my friend how he was going to handle the situation he replied, "George, I don't get mad.  I get even."

That is often our first response when someone has slandered us or taken advantage of us or has hurt us in some way.  We'd like to pay them back and make them feel the pain we've suffered.  We'd like for them to know a sleepless night or an upset stomach or a throbbing headache.  We even begin to think that we won't really be happy until we've gotten some kind of revenge.

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to have his service to the Lord be criticized and condemned. He knew what is was like to suffer punishment for no good reason.  He knew what it was like to be on the run from enemies and their evil plans.  If anyone ever had a reason to want to "get even" it was Paul.

So read chapter 12 of Paul's letter to the Romans sometime today.  Paul encourages his readers (including you and me) to "bless those who persecute you," and "do not repay evil for evil."  How can we live this way? Only through the power of the Lord who enables us to set aside worldly ways and "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Ask the Holy Spirit to continue His transforming power through the Gospel in your daily life so that you might become a "living sacrifice" who continually seeks God's will for daily living.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Speaking of dogs...

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.  Inside of a dog, it's too hard to read.

A Groucho Marx quote from a t-shirt I saw for sale at Bookman's.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

One good reason to own a dog

Humorist Dave Berry provides the answer:

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "You're right! I never would have thought of that!"