Friday, September 30, 2016

Another Friday Funny

An oldie but a goldie...

An elderly woman was weeping as she bade good-bye to the man who had been pastor of her church for several years.

"My dear lady," consoled the departing pastor, "don't get so upset.  The bishop surely will send a much better pastor to replace me here."

Through her sobs the woman wailed, "That's what they said the last time!"

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pastors, take note!

A good sermon may be long, but rarely is a long sermon good.

Ryan Hugeley

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Don't go for all the gusto you can get

We do not try to get everything we can out of this life, lest we forfeit our eternal inheritance to transient gains and pleasures.

Carelton Toppe, "The People's Bible - 1st Corinthians," page 72

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The theology of the cross

By about 1515 (Luther) had evolved the essential outlines of his theology.  He termed it "a theology of the cross."  For only at the cross of Christ do we experience God in a manner that stands the test of reality.  God must send us into darkness and into trials and temptations to free us of ourselves and to prepare us for the reception of His grace, which faith, contrary to all expectations, finds solely at the cross.

"Luther's World of Thought"
Heinrich Bornkamm, pages 3-4

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What I'm Reading

I am just about to finish "The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert" by Rosaria Butterfield.  She is the former college professor who was loved to Christ Jesus by a pastor and his wife.  Butterfield was involved in a lesbian relationship at the time and was highly distrustful of evangelical Christians.  She was simply encouraged to read the Bible and in it she found a God that could be trusted and who loved her through Jesus.  Butterfield has married and is the mother of four adopted children.  This is a "can't put it down" kind of book.  She provides a blue-print for the church on how to witness Christ to those in same-sex relationships.  Definitely worth the time to read.

I received "Because of Bethlehem," the latest from Max Lucado, for my birthday so I'll tackle that one next.  I'm also working through Stephen King's "11-22-63."  It is a book about traveling back in time and is quite fascinating.  I must be one of the few people in America that has not read a book by King but I was hooked by this book within just a few pages.  The book runs over 1000 pages so I'll be at it awhile.  But I think it will be worth the time.

This is the last weekend of our current worship schedule.  Saturday service, as usual, takes place at 5 pm.  Sunday services at 8 and 10:45 am with Bible classes for all ages at 9:20 am.  Some parts of the schedule will change next week but we won't concern ourselves with that until next week.  Hope to see you this weekend at LICL!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Another Friday Funny

It was the new pastor's first Sunday at the church.  While greeting people as they left the service most were very complimentary of his sermon.  But then one man walked up to the new pastor and said, "That was a very dull and boring sermon, Pastor."

The pastor continued to greet worshipers but a minute later the same man appeared in line.  He said, "Pastor, I don't think you did any preparation for your message."

A minute or so later the man walked up to the pastor and told him, "Pastor, you really blew it.  You didn't have a thing to say."

Finally, the pastor could stand it no longer.  He called over one of the elders of the church and asked about this very critical man.

The elder replied, "Oh, don't let that guy bother you.  That's not what he really thinks.  All he does is go around repeating whatever he hears other people say!"

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why is prayer so hard?

Yet, when you understand what God says in His Word, begin to live according to it, and teach it to others, then you'll face many temptations and frequent opposition.  Your corrupt human nature is an enemy of prayer. It quickly becomes bored, careless, and indifferent to what God says and the good life He gives.  For this reason, you will never have as much wisdom, knowledge of God's Word, faith, love, or patience as you should.  Every day your corrupt nature hangs around your neck and drags you away from prayer.  The world is also an enemy of prayer.  It's so envious that you have faith and God's precious Word that it refuses to put up with any of it, no matter how weak you may be.  The world condemns you, tries to take away what you have, and gives you no peace.

These are the two enemies of prayer: our corrupt nature and the world.  On the inside, they try to decrease our desire to pray, and on the outside, they try to chase us away from prayer.  All we can do is to continue crying out to God.  We should pray for strength and better understanding of His Word.

Martin Luther, "By Faith Alone," September 21

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

They are God's gifts

Well, life goes on, even when you turn 64! I have been greatly blessed by so many who remembered my birthday yesterday with a card or gift or phone call or even a Facebook post! This outpouring of respect and affection reminded me of something I'd written down in my journal:

I walk through life together with others, and those others are people whom Christ has placed in my life.  They are His gifts.

Bruce Hartung, "Holding Up the Prophet's Hand," page 154

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When I'm 64

I first heard that famous Beatles song in the summer of 1967.  My dad drove me to a record store in downtown Tucson so I could purchase "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."  I remember listening through the album and feeling totally amazed.  In four years the Beatles had traveled eons musically.  Songs about Sgt. Pepper and Lucy and Rita played over and over again in my head.  What had been started on Revolver had continued on the new release - voices altered, tapes played backward, songs built around a single chord.  Remember the moment when the Wizard of Oz switches from black and white to color? That what listening to Sgt. Pepper felt like.  The palette of colors was like nothing I'd ever seen or heard or felt.

"When I'm 64" would normally seem out of place on a pop music record.  Except that is fit perfectly on Pepper.  It's placed in the perfect spot on the album, following "Within You, Without You."  As the story goes, Paul McCartney wrote the tune when he was a teenager.  The words came later and captured perfectly the lament of those who have reached a certain age.  "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?" That's how it is as we age.  Will our wisdom be wanted? Will our experience, earned through the mistakes and missteps we've made and taken, be worth anything for those we love and care for? When I listened to Pepper, over and over and over again in the summer of '67, I couldn't have imagined what life would be like for me when I reached the ripe old age of 64.

How could I have known that a year later my family would move from Tucson to Mesa? Or that I would meet my future wife, the beautiful Sherri Landis? How could I have known that our journeys would take us from Mesa to St. Louis to Hilton Head Island, SC and back to the Valley of the Sun. Or that I would realize both of my career aspirations - to work in radio broadcasting and to work in the church.  How could I have known that Sherri and I would be blessed with three wonderful children and six grandchildren?  Or that Sherri's nursing career would lead her to touch lives with compassionate care to teaching future nurses how to offer compassionate care? How could I have known that God would bless me with the opportunity to serve such a wonderful group of people at Life in Christ?

Since the Beatles have provided the musical soundtrack to my life, it is only fitting, I guess, that this weekend has been all about the Fab Four.  Friday, the film, "Eight Days a Week" was given its premiere in London.  Paul and Ringo Starr were there.  The next day the film was released in the States and on Hulu, a video streaming service.

Sherri and I saw the film last night.  We were not disappointed.  Although most of the audience were baby boomers, there were some younger folks there too which made me happy.  Ron Howard's decision to focus on the touring years was pivotal.  While the story of Beatlemania has been told many, many times, Howard brings you as close to the mania as you can get.  One can really see how the exuberance of touring in 1963-64 had completely lost its luster in 65-66.  When the Beatles had completed their last concert in San Francisco, they were all ready to put that part of their career behind them.

I loved the film and really enjoyed watching the Shea Stadium concert footage that followed "Eight Days a Week."  It is often mentioned that John Lennon kind of freaked out during that show.  His manic playing of the organ on "I'm Down" was wild! And yet, McCartney seems almost hyper during the entire performance.  One can see the absolute joy McCartney receives while performing live. It's one of the reasons that at 74 he's still performing - he loves it!

This weekend our little group played at both the Saturday and Sunday services.  The group - Dan, Connie, Ron and Pete surprised me at the end of the services by singing "Birthday" and "When I'm 64," albeit with revised lyrics, courtesy of Dan.  Totally unexpected and gratefully received!

I've got some running around to do today so I think I'm going to grab the Sgt. Pepper cd and give it a play or two.  If you see some guy driving around and seemingly singing at the top of his lungs, it's probably me.  Don't worry - it's something you get to do when you're 64!  

Saturday, September 17, 2016


You might recognize the number - 24601 - as being that of the prisoner Jean Valjean from the play, Les Miserables.  Last night, my dear, sweet wife and I saw the student version of the play at Theater Works of Peoria.  We love the play having seen it the first time on the stage in London in 2004.  But our main reason for attending last night was to see one of our young LICL members, Jack Miller.

Jack is in 11th grade at Centennial High School.  He was bit with the acting bug a couple of years ago and had participated in a couple of school plays.  In Les Miz he was part of the ensemble cast and he did an outstanding job.

In some ways it must be fun to be part of the ensemble.  Throughout the two and a half hours Jack played a variety of characters and had a number of costume changes.  He seemed quite at ease on the stage.  I can see him doing more work and honing his craft.  Bravo, Jack, for a job well done!

Join us this weekend for worship.  My little group will provide the music for both the 5 pm Saturday service and both services on Sunday (8 am and 10:45 am).  I'll also preach on Sunday - my sermon title, "Let It Fly."  Come and join us this weekend at LICL!

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Friday Funny has gone to the dogs!

Did you hear the one about...

One Sunday a pastor delivered a very short sermon.  He explained to the congregation, "My dog got into my office and chewed up my manuscript."

After the service, as the pastor was greeting worshipers a visitor asked, "Say, if your dog ever has puppies, please let my pastor have one of them."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What about this being born again?

Birth is something that happens to me.  I was not born the first time because I wanted to but because my parents wanted me.  I was born the second time not because I wanted to but because God wanted me.  Thank God for His grace in making me be born twice.

Richard E. Lauersdorf
"Together with Jesus" - November 11 devotional

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Who builds the church?

Just so we are clear about this...

It is not we who build.  (Christ) builds the church.  No man builds the church but Christ alone.

We must confess - He builds.  We must proclaim - He builds.  We must pray to Him - He builds.

Church - stay a church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord; from His grace alone can you live as you are.  Christ builds.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from "Treasury of Daily Prayer," page 841

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

They want me???

A couple of weeks ago I'm going though my email when I find something from Victory Church UK. The church is located in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, UK (never heard of it). "Why is anyone from the UK contacting me," I wondered. Except for spending a week with the pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England I know no one "across the pond."  So I read on.

"We are writing to invite you to be our guest speaker at our upcoming conference tagged "PASSION CONFERENCE" coming up from the 4th through 6th of Nov 2016."


In the ocean of Christian church throughout the world, I am the smallest minnow you can find.  I doubt that only a handful of local pastors in the LCMS know who I am.  I doubt that my name would draw confused looks were it to be mentioned at our Synodical headquarters in St. Louis.  Really, I'm not on anyone's radar.

So I reread the email from Victory Church and I'm wondering, "Is this some kind of joke?"

It was worse, much worse.  It was a scam.

I did a little investigating and discovered that I was not the only pastor to receive such an email from the Victory Church.  One pastor, who also has a speaking ministry, explained that once the Victory Church has convinced you that they want you to come and speak they make a request for money. Specifically, they ask that you send them funds to cover obtaining a work permit.  The pastor sent the necessary funds.  Then a second email was sent, this time informing the pastor that a "bond" of $2500 pounds was need, fully refundable.  All totaled, the pastor has shelled out $4500 American dollars to the Victory Church.

And he got nothing for the money he sent.  No conference.  No nothing.

I guess that if the church can get you to go along with their scam, they must consider it a victory!

By the time I finished my research, I hit the "delete" button and dispatched the email from the Victory Church to the neather reaches of my computer.  I'm glad I didn't fall for this scam.  I've got better places to invest my money.

Like the Samsung Galaxy smart phone.  I hear you can buy that stock cheap right now.  Better look into it!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Mouse Trap

My dear, sweet wife and I love to go to the theater.  We can't think of a better date night by eating at a favorite restaurant, followed by seeing a show. doesn't matter as long as it is entertaining and fun.

Last night we ate at 49 Grill, located at the renovated hotel just off the 17 and Camelback Road.  It was purchased and redone by Grand Canyon University, part of the make over the University is doing in the neighborhood.  If you've not traveled that vicinity for a while, do it soon.  The construction that is taking place at GCU is nothing short of amazing.  The neighbors and Phoenix political leaders all give kudos to CEO Brian Mueller and the University about all they've done to improve the quality of life in had been a rundown and neglected area.

49 Grill had a nice menu of basically what I would call "pub food."  We each tried the tacos - the shrimp tacos were delicious; chicken was dry; the pork was spicy and quite tasty.  The restaurant was dominated by students and there was quite a fun atmosphere going on.  We enjoyed it very much.

"The Mouse Trap" is an Agatha Christy who-done-it which featured an outstanding cast.  The set and costuming was well done and the student actors seemed to have great fun with their parts.  Easily one of the best presentations we've seen at GCU.

We do have worship this weekend - Saturday ant 5 pm and Sunday at 8 and 10:45 am.  I'll be preaching on the theme, "The Welcoming Church." Come and join us this weekend!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Everything is Possible

The cover of the book first captures your attention.  You see an attractive young woman doing a handstand.  Looks good and then...where are her legs?  Her legs seem to have been airbrushed out of the picture.

But they haven't.  Jen Bricker was born without legs.  "Everything is Possible,"  co-written by Sheryl Berk and published by Baker Books, is the amazing story of how Bricker overcame her handicap to lead a full and fruitful life as an gymnast, aerialist, model and motivational speaker.  Read this book and you'll certainly think twice about sending out "pity party" invitations the next time you're feeling a little down or discouraged.

Like most healthy people I often take my body for granted.  I use my legs without even thinking about them.  Bricker has not let the loss of her legs from living life to the fullest.  Her adoptive parents lovingly encouraged her to try everything.  She found joy on the trampoline. She was a natural as a gymnast (more about that in a moment).  And she has found great success as an aerialist, performing in the Brittany Spears' "Circus" tour in 2009.

Bricker was put up for adoption just minutes after her birth. Her search to learn more about her natural parents led her to make an amazing discovery.  Her sister was Dominique Moceanu, the great Olympic gymnast.  Bricker also met her natural mother who, she discovered, had lived with much guilt and shame in the years following Bricker's birth. Their new relationship is one that continues to grow even to this day.

At times the book reads like one of Bricker's motivational speeches.  There is a sense of "you can do anything if you just put your mind to it and believe it."  While that attitude has worked for Bricker, life simply isn't that easy.  Still, one can't help admire how Bricker has not let her handicap keep her from living a full and inspiring life.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Now where did I put my crystal ball?

I need it - now! Michele and I have jumped back into the football pool!

How's the water? I'll let you know at the end of the year! I've lost track of the number of years that I've been Michele's football picks expert.  The only thing I've proven up to this point is that I'm no expert!

We've had some success.  I'm pretty sure that we've won at least once each year.  We've had a few years where we've done better than that.  It makes me happy when Michele has bragging rights at work.  "Lord it over them," I say to Michele.

At first I think Michele got some flack from her co-workers.  "Your pastor is making your picks? That's not fair! God will grant him favor over the rest of us."  The years have shown that God isn't playing any favorites in this pool.  I haven't received a divine revelation on how to pick a troubling game.  It would help but apparently God has more important matters on His mind.

Nor have I developed a special system for making the picks.  I used to study like mad the records of each team, including their home and away records.  I went through the paper every day trying to pick up on injuries regarding key players.  I searched the internet for the picks of those who lived, ate and slept football.  You'd think that all that work would have resulted in weekly success.  Instead, it just caused weekly frustration after someone else won that week's pool.

If there is any one factor that I pay attention to it is this - which team is the home team.  I read a book a few years ago called "Scorecasting," that detailed how the home field does provide a distinct advantage, and not just in football but in most sports.  So if two teams seems to be evenly matched, I look to see who is hosting the game and go from there.

Wow! I wonder if I should have shared my secret?

Anyway, it's time for me to send my picks to Michele.  We've got a Thursday night game, a rematch between Carolina and Denver.  Will Denver prevail again or will Carolina exact a measure of revenge after last year's Super Bowl loss.  I don't really know so if you have any ideas email them to

Have your suggestions to me by noon.  Happy picking!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dealing with conflict

The great Michael Card wrote a book entitled, "The Walk."  It was patterned after "Tuesdays with Morie" and focused on his relationship with his mentor, Dr. William Lane.  Card describes how his friendship with Lane began and the impact that this pastor and professor of theology had on Card. I made numerous notes in my journal regarding the things said by Lane and I really appreciated this quote:

It makes an e-e-enormous amount of difference if you face conflict in your own strength - or if you face it with Jesus.

Whatever you face this day, do it with Jesus at your side.  Treasure His Word.  Reflect on what He has taught you.  Pray at the first sign of stress or trouble.

The Lord is with you.  Count on Him to be your help and guide.  Don't fight.  Don't flee.  Trust Jesus.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What is the Church?

A week or so ago a new issue of the "British Lutheran" landed in my mail box.  The magazine is kind of like our "Lutheran Witness" magazine, and published by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in England.  In the summer five years ago I spent a week with the pastors of the ELCE for their summer study get together.  The pastors talked about the joys and challenges of doing church in a country where so many people see no need to be received by the God who created them and loved them so much He gave His Son, Christ Jesus, to be their Savior.  I came away with a feeling of thanksgiving for their faithfulness in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus in spite of so many turning a deaf ear to their witness.

Rev. Jon Elhers is the Chairman of the ELCE.  He writes an article in each edition of the "British Lutheran."  In this most recent edition he wrote about the importance of regular attendance at worship and he concluded his article with some thoughts about what the church actually is:

But the church IS the place where each week God's Word is read and proclaimed.  The Church IS the place where absolution is pronounced over us assuring us that God, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior, has forgiven us our damnable sin.  The Church IS the place where Jesus comes to us in Holy Communion to forgive us, unite us, and strengthen us.  The Church IS the place where God gives to us His gifts of life, salvation, and forgiveness, so why would we want to separate ourselves from the Church?

Yes, why would we, indeed!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

God's good idea

Long before their was a holiday like Labor Day, God designed a non-Labor Day for all people.  It was the Sabbath Day, a day of rest from labor, a day to worship and give thanks to God for His creation and life and all good things.

Join us this weekend as we worship the Lord.  Saturday service is held at 5 pm and Sunday services take place at 8 and 10:45 am.  Sunday school and Bible classes meet at 9:20 am.

Be sure to include worship in your Labor Day activities.  Hope to see you at LICL!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The ball broke what?

Today's Friday Funny is taken from the pages of Sports Illustrated.  These are not funny stories but they are things that made me laugh.  Hopefully, you'll get a chuckle as well.

First, how was it that Olympic swimmer, Ryan Lochte, "over exaggerated" (his words) the story he told about being held up at gun point during a night on the town in Rio.  How did he put it? "It was hours later, so I was still intoxicated."  That explanation didn't hold up under scrutiny and has cost Lochte his reputation and many endorsement deals.  Not so much funny as just plain sad.

And then this: Sign Of The Apocalypse - Brandon Thomas, an outfielder for the independent Gateway Grizzlies, hit a grand slam during at 17-6 win over the Joliet Slammers on August 21, only to discover that the ball broke the windshield of his truck!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

How do good works work?

Martin Luther, in his Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, explains it all....

It is a living, busy, working, weighty thing, so that it is impossible that it should not always do some good.  It does not ask whether good works will have to be done; but before the question is put, it has done them and is continually doing them.