Saturday, February 27, 2016

Our busy weekend

It starts with the all church picnic that enables us to celebrate the conclusion of Deaf Ministry Week. We'll meet at Pioneer Park in Peoria (or is it Glendale?) at 10 am.  There will be lots of good fun and activities for the entire family.

Saturday worship is held at 5 pm and I'll be speaking on the subject, "Repentance is coming Jesus." Holy Communion will be celebrated and the Kevin Svec group will provide the music.

Sunday worship takes place at 8 and 10:45 am.  A baptism will highlight the 8 am service and a Deaf Choir will present a special selection.  Holy Communion will be offered at the late service.

I'm also told that a special video of the demo of our former home will be featured with a surprise reveal at the end.

Come and join us this weekend at LICL!

Friday, February 26, 2016

I was glad when they said to me...

I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord."

And that's what it was, O Lord, a house.

A residential house - three bedrooms, 2 and one half bath, with an Arizona room.

Church conducted from a house?

But it worked, Lord.  It worked!

It worked so well that we filled up our worship space not once but twice each Sunday.

We rejoiced as we heard Your Word of forgiveness and faith.

We were grateful to feast on Your Supper (even if it was pretty tight up near the altar).

We baptized and married and buried people.

Our kids acted out the Christmas Story. The words, "He is risen! He is risen indeed!" echoed throughout the house during Easter celebration.

And, Lord, even after we moved into our brand new church facility in 2008, the house kept on serving us.

It was our Christian Education center on Sunday.  During the week our youth, Stephen Ministry, and Bible classes (just to name a few) made good use of the facility.

But for a year or more it was clear that our beloved house had outlived its usefulness to us.

Last summer the congregation voted to move forward with the construction of a new facility.

The old structure had to come down so the new structure could be built.

Lord, it was a bitter sweet day yesterday.  I arrived at church at 12:45 pm.

The building was gone.  That was hard to take.

So, thank you, Lord.  Thank You for our first home.  Thank You for a permanent place from which we could proclaim Your Gospel and reach out with Your hands and heart to hurting and searching people.

Thank You for helping all of us see that our little house could be a mighty place of worship and study and service.

Bless us as we continue to move forward in faith toward the future.

Bless the construction of the new facility.  Save us from any and all unduly delays.

Prepare our congregation for a new season of growth and outreach.

Help us reach the lost and searching.  Put the love of Jesus on our lips and in our hearts.

All praise and thanks to You, Mighty Lord, Holy God.

In the name of Jesus, we pray.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Don't get even

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."

This is often the 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 it 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.

That's one reason why I've found chapter 12 of Paul's letter to the Romans so amazing.  He encourages his readers (including you and me) to "bless those who persecute you," and "do not repay evil or evil."  How can we live in this way?  Only through the power of the Lord who enables us to set aside worldly patterns and "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Read chapter 12 tidat and then ask the Holy Spirit to continue His transforming power in your life so that you might become a "living sacrifice" who continually seeks God's will for daily living.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Every good thing

Here's a Bible verse for you to chew on today: I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.  Philemon, verse six.

It has been said that the six hardest words to say are: "I was wrong.  Please forgive me."

Many find it difficult to say these four words in return: "Yes, I forgive you."

One of the lessons the little letter of Philemon can teach us is the importance of practicing forgiveness.

I call it "practicing" because a forgiving nature doesn't come easily.

We can be hurt by the wrongs committed against us.  We might suffer loss.  We might feel pain.  We can be abandoned.  Our reputation might take an unjust hit.

The person inflicting such damage may come to their senses.  With sincerity of heart they approach you to seek reconciliation.  They speak to you the six hardest words to say.  They ask for forgiveness. How do you respond?

One thing you can do is to remember "every good thing (you) have in Christ."  You remember the humiliation of Christ: His immaculate conception and humble birth; His unjust suffering and His cruel death and burial.  You think of the price your Savior God paid so that you might receive forgiveness for the wrongs you've committed against the Holy God.  You remember the grace of God in your own life.  You think on how the resurrected Christ reached out to those who failed Him during His passion.  Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, you extend grace to the person who seeks forgiveness from you.

Reconciliation takes place between you and a friend, just as it did between Philemon and Onesimus.

Grab some time today and read Paul's letter to Philemon.  Check it out and let the forgiving love of your Savior heal your hurts and give you strength to extend God's grace to others.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

God never grows tired of hearing from you

Author John Fischer writes: I have a bad habit.  When my children tell me something they've learned for the first time, I often act as if I knew that.

When my wife hears something "new" from the kids, her mouth drops open and her eyes widen.  It's as if she had never heard this kind of thing before.  The kids' faces brighten, and they feel as if they have actually enlightened their mother.

I used to think my wife wasn't just acting and sooner or later the kids would find out and feel lied to. Then I realized it isn't an act at all.  Though she may already have experienced what they are trying to tell her, she's never experienced it through them.  Their personal "revelations" are entirely new.

It's the same with God.  As all-knowing as He is, I'm sure He's still eager to hear our prayers because He has never heard it quite the way we say it.  We are all unique.  We have our own signature attached to all we do and say.  Our lives, our experiences, and our faith expressed to Him are never old.

We've all had a time or two in our lives when we've prayed and prayed to God about a problem with which we're struggling.  In fact, we've prayed so often that we're convinced that God has heard just about enough from us on the subject.

Not so! Instead, we have this promise from the Psalms: "I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me."  (Psalm 120:1)  So pray, my friends.  It doesn't matter if you've offered a particular prayer petition 50 times.  Pray it again.  Tell God your troubles.  He never grows tired of hearing from you!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Have you checked out our website?

You should, you know.  At you can find...

The latest sermons that have been preached &

The video of our Ground Breaking Service &

A link to this blog &

The monthly calendar and newsletter &

Information about our upcoming Deaf Ministry Week &

A page where you can meet our staff &

Much, much more!

Come and visit us this weekend - worship today at 5 pm or on Sunday at 8 and 10:45 am (Sunday school and Bible classes at 9:20 am).

God's best to you!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

On the day of Luther's passing

It was on this day in the year 1546 that Martin Luther fell asleep in Jesus.  Luther did not die in fear; it is said that as his life ebbed away he continually repeated the great Gospel verse, John 3:16. Fortified by God's Word, Luther believed that he would not perish but have everlasting life through faith in God's Son.

But God beheld my wretched state

Before the world's foundation

And mindful of His mercies great

He planned my soul's salvation

A Father's heart He turned to me

Sought my redemption fervently

He gave His dearest treasure

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Philosophy by Bruce Arians

I totally agree with the Arizona Cardinals coach who said, pressure is only something you feel if you're not prepared.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Your small church is not insignificant

Is your church ordinary? Small? Well, my Christian friend, if it is preaching the Gospel and endeavoring to help others to know and follow Jesus then it is not insignificant.  It is powerfully important and surpassingly glorious.  And, you should praise God for it - even as you get to work in it!

Eric Raymond, Gospel Coalition Blogspot, 2/11/2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Our busy weekend

Lots of activity this weekend at LICL!

Both our Women's and Men's ministry groups meeting this morning at 9 am for their monthly gatherings.  Some of our couples come together with the women heading to the chapel and the men to classroom one.  You're invited too!

At 2 pm we will hold the Memorial Service for Jerry Wunderlich, a wonderful man and brother in the faith.  A reception for Sherry and her family will be held immediately after the service.

Then at 5 pm our Saturday service takes place and Holy Communion will be celebrated.  Music will be offered by the Pat Herman group.

Two services tomorrow - 8 and 10:45 am - with Sunday school and Bible class in between.  And finally the 2nd Annual Valentine's dinner and movie takes place at 6 pm this evening.

Whew! Come and join us this weekend at LICL!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Message delivered at Ground Breaking - 2/7/16

Ground Breaking Message


On a day like today it’s very hard not to want to take a moment and remember.

That’s what I’ve been doing all week.  Walking down memory lane, remembering just how much the house has meant to our church.

I know how much that house meant to our founding members.  It was important to have a home, to no longer have to move around from place to place to worship.  Having a home base helped to really solidify the feeling of belonging and the idea that God had a plan for Life in Christ, plans to give us a hope and a future.

I don’t have time to share with you all the memories I have of the house.  It just worked – the house worked for us.  We worshipped the Lord with all our hearts.  We made Sunday school work with the limited space we had.  Fellowship events were no problem.  We set up tables and chairs out on the grass and under some of those beautiful trees we had on the property and had a blast. 

I remember serving communion in a very tight space and that if I weighed then what I weighed now I probably would have bowled people over.  I remember our first Easter sunrise service and how the horse from across the street came and paid us a visit.  I remember the first Palm Sunday when we had palms on each side of the center aisle leading up to the altar.  It felt like walking through a jungle.  I remember Pete McKean passing me notes during the service.  I remember our kids running all over the property hunting Easter eggs.  The house was our home.  It was where we worshipped and studied and fellowshipped and just had fun.  We were a happy church and we had days and days of happy times, rejoicing together in the common faith we’d received through the Gospel and the common Savior, Jesus, who died and rose again to rescue us and give us eternal life.

So on a day like today it is good to remember.  Interestingly, the word “remember” is used over 200 times in the Bible.  What I find helpful is why God often urges His people to remember their past.

A favorite Psalm of mine is Psalm 77.  It begins with these words: I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.  When I was in distress, I sought the Lord…

The writer of Psalm 77 is a man named Asaph.  It is easy to identify the spiritual anguish he is suffering from.  Asaph and his people have suffered heartache and loss.  Their temple, their house, is no more.  Their enemies have been allowed by God to overtake their land and people.

Asaph is so upset that he begins to wonder, “Has God forgotten me and my people?”  Asaph writes, “Has (God’s) unfailing love vanished forever? Has His promise failed for all time?”

With all hope seemingly lost, Asaph then does something crucial to his spiritual life.  Listen to verse 11 of Psalm 77.  I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

Asaph remembers that God is holy and that His will is perfect.  He remembers that through His power, God works mighty miracles.  He prays these wonderful words: What god is so great as our God?

And then Asaph very specifically remembers how God saved Israel from Egypt’s slavery.  He recalls how the people fled the Pharaoh during the Exodus.  Asaph pictures the people standing at the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army bearing down on them.  All seemed to be lost but then a way of safety was provided.  The waters are parted; a way of escape is made.

Asaph describes the scene like this: Your path led through the sea, Your way through the mighty waters, though Your footprints were not seen.

The reason why God encourages His people to remember the past is not to live in the past but to move forward in faith in the future.

By remembering how God has acted on behalf of His people in the past fuels our faith that we can trust in His help or protection or forgiveness or love in the future.

Living in the past make for a stale Christianity.  I don’t believe that’s what the Lord’s will is for the church, for our church.

So, on this ground breaking Sunday, we remember our very first house of worship.  We give thanks to God for leading us to this place.  We rejoice when we think of all the ways that we came together as a community of Christ – receiving His gifts of grace in worship and sharing those gifts of grace with one another and our community.

God has richly blessed Life in Christ.  Remembering our past, we are confident He will continue to bless as we faithfully proclaim His Word and administer His Sacraments.  What God is so great as our God?

Our new fellowship and Christian education building will be one more tool and resource at our disposal so that we might continue to carry out our mission to live and grow in Christ ~ encourage and reach others.  It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities for fellowship and growth and outreach the future will bring.

As we move forward, then, let’s keep on remembering.  Keep on remembering God’s faithfulness to us in the past.  Keep on remembering that the work God has done in the place is greater and more awesome than any of us ever imagined. 

And as we remember, may God grant us the courage and faith to keep moving forward in order to share the love of Jesus Christ with joy and enthusiasm.  To God be the glory!  Amen.    

Luther quotes

I was looking through one of my old journals recently and came across some quotes attributed to Martin Luther.  In a couple of cases I failed to note where I found the quote.  See if one of these doesn't strike a chord with you:

In order to reach the next life, we need to know God and His Word in this life.

Faith does not lie on the heart, like foam on beer.

The Bible is the manger where the Word of God is laid.

Pray and let God do the worrying.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Yearning for a different Lenten Season

I always look forward to Lent.  I like the idea of having some time to really reflect about life with God.  I look forward to having some time to think about those areas of my life that need reformation and change.  It is refreshing to be able to approach God's throne of grace and pray, "Lord, I  believe. Help my unbelief!"

I yearn to slow down and take time to focus on Jesus - His amazing grace, His sacrificial love, His willingness to give up His own life just to save a sinner like me.

But every year I end up a slave to my to-do list.  My use of time is determined by others.  By the time Holy Week rolls around, I'm running on fumes and hoping I can keep going until 12 noon on Easter Sunday.

May this Lenten season be different.  May it be less about "to-do" and more about what Jesus has "done" for me.  May it be about keeping appointments with God for reading and reflection, about repentance and faith.  May it be more about receiving the refreshment worship and the Lord Supper offers to repentant children of God.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Downton Abbey - I Get It!

It seemed that my dear, sweet wife and I were the only ones in America who were not watching Downton Abbey, the PBS television show that presents what life was like in Victorian England in the early 20th century.  The show recently began its sixth season and we've been told over and over again, "You have to watch it from the start to really understand what's going on."

So while checking the DVD shelves at the local Savers last week I happened upon seasons one and two of the program.  I rushed home and Sherri and I started watching season one, episode one.  And within 15 minutes or so, we were hooked!

To me it is simply the best written television program I've ever watched.  The cast is large and yet Julian Fellows, the creator and writer, seamlessly weaves different story lines for each of the characters.  It seemed as though there were plot surprises in each episode, ones which neither Sherri or I saw coming.  When we finished the first episode we had to go on to number two right away.

We finish season one last night and as the credits were rolling Sherri said, "You'd better find seasons three, four and five quickly!"

Back to Savers!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ground breaking day!

Tomorrow is one of those red-letter days at Life in Christ.  Between services we'll break ground as we begin a 2 million dollar construction project.  When finished we'll have a new fellowship hall, Sunday school classrooms, a new high school youth space, larger kitchen which our folks will actually be able to prepare meals, overflow space for worship, a small chapel, remodeled offices, and a new music practice room.  (Whew!).  It is hoped that we'll be ready for move in by September 1. Since projected construction completion dates are usually missed, pray with us that the project progresses smoothly, that delays are minimal, and that the building will be ready by September.

So, today we worship at 5 pm and tomorrow at 8 and 10:45 am.  Come and join us for an exciting day of worship and of giving thanks to the Lord for His amazing grace.  Blessings!

Friday, February 5, 2016

It's Friday! Let's praise the Lord!

I really appreciate this prayer:

Sing unto the Lord a new song.  Sing unto the Lord, O earth! Sing forth the honor of His Name.  Let day proclaim unto day the salvation of our God.  O come, let us sing unto the Lord our God a new song,  May He bless and preserve me - The Father, Who created me,  The Son, Who redeemed me, The Holy Spirit, Who sanctified me.  Amen.

J K Wilhelm Loehe, from "For All the Saints" page 875

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Giving Christians a Good Name

I've been slowly working my way through Philip Yancey's latest book, "Vanishing Grace."  In the book Yancey explores some of the reasons why Christianity seems to have lost respect in many parts of the world and offers some ideas as to how Christians might once again be seen as dispensers of God's grace to the lost and hurting.

One way that Christians are seen in a positive light is by providing assistance, help and resources in times of disaster and loss.  Yancey tells how a "60 Minutes" producer, John Marks, watched in awe as Christians came together to serve and offer help during Hurricane Katrina.  He looked on as churches stepped up to feed thousands, offer temporary shelter and go into stricken neighborhoods to help rebuild homes.

Marks writes, "I would argue that this was a watershed moment in the history of American Christianity...nothing spoke more eloquently to believers, and to nonbelievers who were paying attention, than the success of a population of believing volunteers measured against the massive and near-total collapse of secular government efforts.  The storm laid bare an unmistakable truth.  More and more Christians have decided that the only way to reconquer America is through service.  The faith no longer travels by the word.  It moves through the deed."

I disagree a bit with Marks conclusion.  Paul wrote to the Romans, "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ."  The Gospel is the "power of God for the salvation of all who believe," as Paul reminds the Romans.  Saving faith for any person begins and ends with the Gospel.

Still, as Marks points out, deeds are important.  In the Catechism, question eight asks, "What does God teach and do in the Gospel?"  Here's the answer, "In the Gospel, the good news of our salvation is Jesus Christ, God gives forgiveness, faith, life and the power to please Him with good works."

The deeds Marks is talking about are a result of the effect the Gospel has had on a believer's life. When touched with the amazing grace of Jesus Christ a believer can't help but want to share and show the love of Jesus with others.  This manifests itself in any number of ways - bringing a meal to someone who is ill...helping to clean up a yard for a friend who can no longer do the work...sitting at the side of a hospital bed and praying with someone near death.  And, yes, investing one's own time and money for the sake of a family who has lost their home in a hurricane.

It seems to me that responding to needs as Marks has describes gives Christians an opportunity to answer the question, "Why are you doing this for me?"  Then when the door of opportunity is opened, believers have the chance to share Jesus with those who wonder about the reason for the good works and deeds being done on their behalf.

Yancey also shared a comment from "Time" magazine's political editor, Joe Klein.  Klein was in Oklahoma serving as a volunteer to help repair and rebuild homes that suffered damage in a massive tornado.  Klein noticed all the church groups at work, many who had traveled hundreds of miles just to come and help, and he observed, "Funny how you don't see secular humanists giving out hot meals."

Yancey's book has really impressed upon me that even non-believers sit up and take notice, so to speak, when Christians respond with the love of Jesus to those in need of help.  Maybe more Christians should move away from political action and just look for ways to help others in the name of Jesus.  That kind of love and service might just give Christians a good name!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How do we keep God's Law?

How might we keep the Law which we've never kept before? By putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is it.  It is the only way.  It is in being loved, being forgiven, being fed the Holy Supper that not only is sin forgiven but faith is also strengthened.  In that - these things that God has given for His Church, for her faith and life - the Holy Spirit takes up residence and works do follow.  The only way for sinners like us to keep the Law is to have the Law kept for us.

David H. Petersen, "God With Us," page 22