Friday, March 31, 2017

Top Ten Anonymous Complaints from Members

A pastor is never pleased to find an anonymous note shoved under the office door.  These notes usually are written by members who have a complaint but don't want the pastor to know who the complainer is.  Here's the top ten...

10) I'm tired of all this preaching about evangelism.  Why the emphasis on outreach? You should tailor your preaching to those in the church who pay the bills!!

9) Can you get the organist to play faster? She plays like maple syrup has been poured over the keys and pedals!

8) Can you get the organist to slow down? She plays like she's got a 10 am reservation at a brunch!

7) Have you seen the Sunday school rooms? They are a mess! If the children can't keep them neat and clean, we should just cancel Sunday school!

6) I have a complaint about the free donuts you serve each Sunday.  I hate Bashas'! Get them from someplace else!

5) How much extra is it costing this church to have the custodian vacuum up all the Cheerios left behind by those noisy kids?!

4) Do something about the rude ushers! I'm sure one of them stood over me and wouldn't move until I put another dollar in the collection plate!

3) I don't like your attempts at humor on Sunday! And by the way, I don't like your haircut either!

2) Why in the world did we build a pulpit if you're not going to use it? Stand still!!

And the number one top ten anonymous complaint from members:

1) If you don't stop this praise band stuff I'm going to set the guitars and drums on fire!!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lord Jesus, Thou art Going Forth

What can I for such love divine
 To Thee, Lord Jesus render?
No merit has this heart of mine;
Yet while I live, I'll tender.
Myself alone
 And all I own.
I love to serve before Thee;
 Then when time's past.
 Take me at last
To Thy blest home in glory.

From "The Lutheran Hymnal" number 150, verse 5

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The escalator of pain

Vengeance is a passion to get even. It is a hot desire to give back as much pain as someone gave you....The problem with revenge is that it never gets what it wants; it never evens the score. Fairness never comes. The chain reaction set off by every act of vengeance always takes its unhindered course. It ties both the injured and the injurer to an escalator of pain. Both are stuck on the escalator as long as parity is demanded, and the escalator never stops, never lets anyone off.

Lewis Smedes, as quoted in "What's So Amazing About Grace," by Philip Yancey, page 115

Monday, March 27, 2017

God Among Sages

Reading Kenneth Richard Samples new book, "God Among Sages," will make you feel good.  Not that it's designed to be a "feel good" book.  But it will make you feel good that your faith and life is rooted in the one true God whose Word is truth and who is truly worthy of our worship and praise.

Part one of the book lays out what Samples calls, "The Historic Christian Portrait of Jesus Christ." He shows Jesus as He is understood by the Orthodox Christian Church.  He demonstrates that Jesus is true God & true man, the promised one sent by God the Father.  Those characteristics which prove that Jesus was more than just an ordinary man are presented.  Samples include sources from outside historic Christianity that testify that Jesus lived and did many of the things which the Gospels teach. Samples shows his readers that it is good and right to put faith and confidence in Christ Jesus for life and salvation.

The second part provides profiles of  Krishna, the Buddha, Confucius and Mohammad.  This part of the book is especially worthwhile if the reader has little knowledge of these leaders and the religions they are connected to.  In light of what we read regarding Islam and the radical groups that have sprung from this religion, "God Among Sages," provides eye-opening information and points out some of the important differences between Islam and Christianity.

Samples is an effective apologist of the Christian faith.  If you want to learn more about what religion is all about in the 21st century, "God Among Sages," is a helpful resource to have on your bookshelf.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

If it's Saturday...

There must be a worship service today at 5 pm at Life in Christ.  Bingo! I'll be continuing my sermon series, "Lent - A Season of Renewal" and Holy Communion will be celebrated.

On Sunday we meet for worship at 8 and 11 am.  All kinds of classes for all ages meet at 9:30 am (after have all devoured a decent number of donuts!).

Join us at Life in Christ this weekend!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Top 10 Signs Your Pastor is Suffering From March Madness

No one is immune from March Madness...not even clergy!

10)  Hymn board in church is replaced with posters of the brackets. (thanks Kevin Svec!)

9)  The hymns sound suspiciously like school fight songs.

8)  Starts calling the 12 Apostles the 12 Seeds.

7) Refers to the days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday Vigil and Easter Sunday as the "Final Four."

6) Found sitting at his desk muttering over and over, "My brackets are busted.  My brackets are busted."

5) Throws a fit when the women's ministry leader beats him in a game of "horse."

4) Calls a technical foul on a noisy two year old during worship.

3) During worship tells congregation, "Wanna see my impersonation of Bobby Knight?" Then hurls a chair down the center aisle.

2) During the children's message, teaches the kids how to spell "Krzyzewski."

And the number one sign your pastor is suffering from March Madness:

1) Gets two services and a Bible class over in 37 minutes so he can get home to see the opening tipoff!

One thing God's Word does for us

It takes God's Word to reveal God's blessing. And, as a sign of His favor, no earthly blessing is intended to be a distraction from God's greater gift: His Son.  Rather, as we bear our crosses and sacrifice in love for our neighbor, we follow Him and abide in His teaching.

"Blessed - God's Gift of Love" Mary Moerbe, page 124

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Meet Generation Z

When it comes to developing a strategy for reaching the lost with the good news of Jesus Christ, you'd be wise to listen to James Emery White.

He is a pastor, speaker, college professor and president, and accomplished writer,  And he seems to have his hand on the pulse of those born between 1993 and 2012, better known as Generation Z.

The question is: how do reach this group that makes up nearly 25% of our population? Are they interested in spiritual things? Is the traditional church attractive to them? Should modern church music replace the great hymns of the church?  Is free wifi service a must?

Emery offers many important insights into Generation Z.  For those who are confused as to how to reach this group, Emery offers hope that these young people can be reached for Christ.  Emery also offers some ideas on what not to do if a church wants to connect with this group.

Emery calls Generation Z the first post-Christian generation.  He also provides hope and practical ideas for showing and sharing Jesus Christ with this large and important group of people.  An important book indeed!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Life is good. Why do I feel so bad?

I've begun reading Mary Beth Chapman's book, "Choosing to See," for the past week.  In the book she describes what it was like for her family when they suffered tragedy.  One of their sons accidentally hit and killed a young Chinese girl that the family adopted.  The family's journey from grief to grace is incredible. But I wanted to read the book for another reason.

I was told that Mary Beth was very open and candid about how she suffers from depression.  I admired her honesty as she describes how she was diagnosed and the care she received following her diagnosis.  One particular paragraph really hit home for me:

It was a relief to know that what I suffered from had a name. I felt guilty and ashamed. Like everything was my fault. I had no logical reason to be depressed. I had a wonderful, loving husband and healthy, great kids.  We were financially blessed. I wasn't living in poverty, persecution or pain. Why should I be depressed? (page 66)

What she wrote made so much sense because I feel the same way.  Everything is really good in my life. Why do I feel so bad? Why can't I be happy? Why do I feel like a dark cloud has descended upon me, ruining my life? To me, this is one of the great mysteries with this disease.

This is also why depression is so frustrating for the loved ones of those who suffer.  "Snap out of it," they say.  "Just get busy and you'll feel better."  "You've been on the medication for two weeks.  Why aren't you better?"

I guarantee you - those who suffer from depression do want to snap out of it.  They would like to get busy.  They are just as anxious about getting good results from medication.  But it isn't that easy. Patience and prayerful support from loved ones makes all the difference in the world for a depression sufferer.  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

So long, Dorothy!

Today is set to be busy for me.  This morning I will be doing two private baptisms for families who are starting to become connected to our church.  Such a joy to see God's love in action through the waters of Holy Baptism.  Then, at 1 pm today, we will hold a Memorial Service for Dorothy DeJovine.  She was one of the most faithful disciples of Jesus that I've had the pleasure to know. Dorothy had a sharp mind and a wonderful sense of humor, her chuckle always put a smile on my face.  A reception for Dorothy's family will be held in our new hall following the service.

Worship takes place this weekend with our Saturday service at 5 pm and two Sunday services at 8 and 11 am.  I will continue to preach on the theme, "Lent - A Season of Renewal."  We will also continue with session two of our study based on Max Lucado's fine book, "He Chose the Nails."  That takes place at 9:30 am along with a bunch of classes and gatherings taking place throughout our building.  Join us, won't you?

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Life of the Party

That would be my grandson, Duke.  A lampshade was not available so he had to improvise.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Best $5 I ever spent

Some of my friends know that that I love to shop at thrift stores and places like Goodwill.  You just never know what kind of bargains you might find.  One day you might leave the store empty handed; the next you just might find a treasure that really puts a smile on your face.

On Monday I was shopping in one of my favorite stores when I happened upon the two volume "Complete Far Side" by Gary Larson.  I had struck the mother lode - 4,333 cartoons drawn by Larson.  Each volume included his observations about the art of cartooning, letters written to Larson or various newspapers, either praising or trashing a particular cartoon, and a foreword penned by Steve Martin.

So far I've worked through the first two years - 1980 & 81.  There were classic cartoons (like the one Larson drew for the Wonker Wiener Company - remember that one?), some that I did not recall seeing and several in which I thought to myself, "I don't get it," a regular reaction by readers of Larson's work.  Flipping through the pages brought back to mind the joy of going outside to fetch the morning paper and immediately finding the Far Side panel for the day.  A great way to start the day!

The cartoon below I actually used for a devotion in my Homiletics class at Seminary.  I doubt that Glenn Nielsen remembers this (my ideas for devotions are usually not very memorable).  But at the time is seemed like the perfect introduction for my devo on why the omniscience of God is good for us.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A good gift idea for guys

My dear, sweet wife has a birthday in early February.  Then, right around the corner, comes Valentine's Day.  Put a lot of pressure on a guy to come up with two stellar gift ideas in a short period of time.  I came up with a nice birthday gift but what to do about Feb 14?

Then I happened upon an ad on Facebook about the Magnolia Journal, a new magazine being published by Joanna and Chip Gaines.  Bingo! Sherri and I love "Fixer Upper" and really admire the Gaines'.  We've been to Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas (and met Joanna's mother) and had a fun morning shopping, trying out some of the food trucks and admiring the silos and the whole set up.

I believe if you look around the internet you can find a introductory subscription price for the Journal. If you have a birthday or anniversary coming up or if you just want to surprise your honey with a special gift, get her a subscription to the Magnolia Journal.  It's a solid gold gift - I guarantee it!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

It's Saturday but Sunday's Coming

Yes, today is Saturday and it's going to be a warm one in the Valley of the Sun.  I imagine we'll have the air conditioning on for the 5 pm service this afternoon and the 8 and 11 am services tomorrow.  I'll be preaching at all three services so come and join us.  Also, we will hold the dedication service for the Christian Life Center on Sunday at 9:30 am.  Every day we rejoice at the great blessing this new facility is for our church and we look forward to seeing all the ways we can use the facility to serve our people and reach our community with the love of Jesus.  So, come and worship with us this weekend.  You'll receive a warm welcome at LICL!

Friday, March 10, 2017

It takes a church to reach the lost

For any church to be effective in winning people to faith in Christ and to connect them to a church, it takes the entire membership and attendees to be actively involved.

Gary L. McIntosh, "Growing God's Church," page 147

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Live Boldly!

Our lives in Christ flow from God's Promises and God's truth.  In our society, false voices are proclaiming what it means to be a human creature, when one become a human creature, how we should treat our fellow human creatures, where our value as human creatures comes from - and the list goes on.  God's Word speaks to these things, and especially speaks that in Christ God has loved all humanity, all people - and laid His claim even on those who reject Him.  God's people will hear as their pastor asked them to join Him in living in love for those in need.  The needs are all around us, and growing.  Our faith must be active in love.  So, that means not just speaking boldly, but living boldly.

Rev. Dr. Jeff Gibbs, professor of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.  From "Reporter" March 2017 edition

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Phillip Yancey on the Psalms

I had missed the main point, which is that the Book of Psalms comprises a sampling of spiritual journals, much like personal letters to God.

The Psalms do use an inherently different approach, not so much representing God to the people as the people representing themselves to God.

I come to the Psalms not primarily as a student wanting to acquire knowledge, but rather as a fellow pilgrim wanting to acquire relationship.

More than any other book in the Bible, Psalms reveals what a heartfelt, soul-starved, single-minded relationship with God looks like.

From "The Bible Jesus Read"

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Lent - A Season of Renewal

Tomorrow is the First Sunday in Lent and my sermon series will focus on how we believers can use Lent as a time to ask God to revive our faith so that we follow our Lord and Savior more fully and faithfully.  Join us at either 8 or 11 am.  In the adult Bible class, we will use a study based on Max Lucado's 2000 book "He Chose the Nails."  It's the perfect study for the Lenten season.

You can also worship with us today at 5 pm.  Whether it be today or tomorrow, join us at LICL!

Friday, March 3, 2017


If you are weak enough to confess your sins, God is strong enough to save you from them.

Thabiti Anyabwile

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A prayer for those who struggle

During my struggle
O God
grant that I may 
go to Bethlehem
and there enfold
my Savior
in the manger
of my faith

During my struggle
O God
grant that I may 
go to dark Gethsemane
and Calvary mournful
mountain climb
and share in
His sufferings 
for my transgressions
God's own sacrifice complete

During my struggle
O God
grant that I may
go to the garden
see the empty tomb
and through faith
in my resurrected
and ascended Lord
rise above
my passing trial
and at last
win the victory
through Christ
my Lord

Donald Deffner, "Prayers for People Under Pressure," page 38