Saturday, August 19, 2017

Thank you, Joan!

One of our members, Joan Gorges, went to heaven to rest in the arms of her Savior.  She was a generous person and blessed many of our members.  Her legacy is our Prayer Chapel.  She paid for the entire construction, which included the stained glass window.  We were so glad she was able to be with us when we dedicated the Chapel following one of our 11 am services.  Speaking for myself, it is such a blessing to go to a quiet place, read "Treasuring God's Word," pray the daily hours and go over my prayer list.  It is the best part of the day.

I hope you will include in your day spending time in worship with the Lord.  Our Saturday service takes place at 5 pm and Sunday services start at 8 and 11 am.  My message for tomorrow is entitled, "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet."  Please come and join us this weekend!

Friday, August 18, 2017

"You won't get worms!"

At a downtown mission one evening the minister was preaching a sermon on the evils of drinking. To illustrate the point he put two glasses on the pulpit. 

The first glass he filled with water, the second glass he filled with a very good bourbon whiskey. The he dropped a healthy earthworm into the glass of water. 

Immediately the worm started to swim around. The he took the worm and dropped it into the glass of whiskey. Immediately the worm shriveled up and died. 

The minister asked the congregation of drifters, "What does this prove to you?" Immediately an old drunk enthusiastically raised his hand and said, "Preacher, if you drink good whiskey, you won't get worms!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I sense you are very thirsty

I am close to finishing up Philip Yancey's wonderful book, "What's So Amazing About Grace?" By the time I complete one of his books, nearly every page is highlighted, underlined or starred in some way. I loved his insight regarding Jesus' amazing meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well in John, chapter four:

John give the account of Jesus' impromptu conversation with a woman at a well. In those days the husband initiated divorce: this Samaritan woman had been dumped by five different men. Jesus could have begun by pointing out what a mess the woman had made of her life. Yet he did not say, "Young woman, do you realize what an immoral thing you're doing, living with a man who is not your husband?" Rather, He said, in effect, I sense you are very thirsty. Jesus went on to tell her that the water she was drinking would never satisfy and then offered her living water to quench her thirst forever.

So often we try to quench our thirst for living by pouring ourselves into our jobs, pursuing a special hobby, acquiring stuff or investing inordinate amounts of time into relationships, some of which aren't healthy for us.

But if we're honest we have to admit that nothing can really quench our thirst for authentic living except Jesus.  Our new life in Christ quenches our thirst. Jesus is the end of the seeking life. Jesus gives new life!  He refreshes us with His living water and living Word. If you are thirsty, go to Jesus. Now! He has exactly what you need to quench your parched, dry life.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Making weakness irrelevant

My former business partner used to say, "You can't make a quarterback out of a tight end." This was his way of saying that it's bad business to take an individual who doesn't have what it takes for a certain position or responsibility and thrust them into that position.  Both the business and the employee will feel incredibly frustrated.

The same mistake often takes place in the church.  Sometimes people are added to the ministry staff because they needed a job or have been loyal and supportive to the pastor or the church. But is that an appropriate reason for hiring a person for a specific task? Probably not, especially if that person isn't suited for that role.

I appreciated what Carl George and Warren Bird wrote in their book, "How To Break Growth Barriers:" One of the keys of effective leadership is to work from your area of strength, not weakness. As Peter Drucker...has said, "the purpose of organization is to make weakness irrelevant. To maximize what you do best, you need to be effective in empowering others."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Welcome God In

When we invite God into our world, He walks in. He brings a host of gifts: joy, patience, resilience. Anxieties come, but they don't stick. Fears surface and then depart. Regrets land on the windshield, but then comes the wiper of prayer. The devil still hands me stone of guilt, but I turn and give them to Christ. I'm completing my sixth decade, yet I'm wired with energy. I am happier, healthier, and more hopeful than I've ever been. Struggles come, for sure. But so does God.

Prayer is not a privilege for the pious, not the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and His child. My friends, He wants to talk with you. Even now, as you read these words, He taps at the door. Open it. Welcome Him in. Let the conversation begin.

Max Lucado, "God Is With You Every Day," page 235

This weekend - worship on Saturday at 5 pm; worship on Sunday at 8 and 11 am. Study the Bible with your friends at 9:30 am and classes for the kids too! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

I got this Mom!

A crowded airplane was about to take off. But suddenly screaming and whaling filled the plan from front to back - a six year old boy began throwing a wild tempter tantrum.  It seemed that Mom could do nothing to calm the kid down.

In the midst of the commotion, an older man wearing the uniform of a Marine calmly walked down the aisle toward Mom and boy. The man looked impressive - his body was still lean and this uniform full of medals and stripes.

He bent over and whispered something to the boy.  And just like that the kid stopped crying, hopped up to his seat and fastened his seat belt.

The stunned travelers burst in applause as the older Marine walked back to his seat.  As the man sat down, the passenger next to him asked, "What was it that you whispered to the boy that caused him to stop making such a scene?"

The Marine smiled and said, "I showed him all of my medals and stripes and told him that they gave me the authority to throw on passenger out of the plane door on any flight I choose."

Adapted from Ken Davis' book, "Lighten Up and Live," page 136

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I love my church family?

Christian congregations are often referred to as a "church family." As a group of people we have lots in common - a heavenly Father who loves us, a Brother who loved us to death, and a Counselor who intercedes and helps us daily.

But some have the expectation that because we are a "church" family, we should be one happy family. Kind, considerate, understanding and always full of love for one another.  Those are not always the marks of our natural family and it is silly to expect that things would be different with the "church" family.

One of our members gave me an interesting devotional piece written by a favorite author, Philip Yancey.  It's entitled, "Building Community."

"Community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives," says Henri Nouwen. Often we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, which forms a club or a clique, not a community.  Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision and hard work to form a community.

The Christian church was the first institution in history to bring together on equal footing Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free. The apostle Paul waxed eloquent on this "mystery," which for ages past was kept hidden from God." By forming a community out of diverse members, Paul said, we have the opportunity to capture the attention of the world and even the supernatural world beyond us (Ephesians 3:9-10)

In some ways the church has sadly failed in this assignment. Still, church is the one place I visit that brings together generations: infants still held in their mother's arms, children who squirm and giggle at all the wrong times, responsible adults who know how to act appropriately at all times, and those who may drift off to sleep if the preacher drones on too long.

If we want the community experience God is offering to us, we have reason to seek a congregation of people "not like us."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Bonhoffer Prayer

Dietrich Bonhoffer was a German pastor and theologian who died just prior to the end of World War II. He was convicted of plotting to kill Adolph Hitler and was hanged in a prison camp, just days before the camp was liberated.

He is best known for his writings, especially his classic, "The Cost of Discipleship." Even while imprisoned, Bonhoffer continued to write .  His "Letters and Papers from Prison" offers a keen insight of how faith in God enabled Bonhoffer to endure through the harsh rigors of prison.

I discovered a prayer of Bonhoffer's in a book I picked up yesterday.  Phyllis Tickle's, "The Night Offices," is a companion devotional book to her "The Divine Hours" trilogy.  Perhaps this prayer will bless you as it blessed me.

In me there is darkness, but in You there is light; I am lonely, but You do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help; I am restless, but with You there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience; I do not understand Your ways, but You know the way for me.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The most famous crosswalk in history

On this date in 1969 the Beatles took a break from recording to take some photos for the cover of the album they were preparing.

It's said that Ringo suggested the title for the album - "Abbey Road."  So, on a sunny day, the Beatles crossed the road three times.  Six photos were taken but only one had them walking in lock step (I think that's the term) so that photo was chosen for the cover of the album.

In 2011, I was blessed to take a 3 month renewal from my duties as pastor of Life in Christ.  We designed a month long European trip in which we would attend music festivals in Austria and Germany.  We also spent a long day in Liverpool, birthplace of the four Beatles and did a walking tour of Beatles sites in London.  The tour ended at Abbey Road - very fitting since the Beatles stopped being Beatles with the recording of that album.

A young American who was doing a summer internship in London and was on the walking tour as well.  She caught my dear, sweet wife and I making our way across the most famous crosswalk in history (at least in my opinion).  To mimic Paul, I walked across in bare feet.  We had a very splendid day!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

One of THOSE days

Have you ever had one of those days where you knew that there would be a mixture of happiness and sadness? Our home is very excited that Kurt Warner will be officially received as a member of the Football Hall of Fame this evening in Canton, Ohio.  Warner's career took off at age 28 when, through an injury to another player, he became the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams.  All Warner did was lead the team to victory in the Super Bowl.  Later, because of injuries, Warner's career hit a snag.  He was signed by Arizona, got a chance to be a starter again, and was only a minute and a half from leading Arizona to its first Super Bowl championship in 2009.  I believe Warner's years in Arizona are responsible for the resurgence we've seen from our hometown team.

But what we really loved about Warner was his unashamed witness of Jesus Christ.  He did not hide his confession of faith in Christ Jesus under a basket.  No, he let the light of Jesus shine, whether it be on the football field or in church or wherever he was.  My dear, sweet wife and I briefly met Kurt and his wife, Brenda, at Celebrity Fight Night a few years ago.  They were both gracious and kind.  So, we really rejoice for Warner and his family.

This afternoon I will be preaching at a Memorial Service for a long time friend and her family.  They mourn the loss of their 17 year old son.  We expect to see friends that we haven't had the opportunity to connect with for years.  So it will be a bittersweet day for us.  But I'm looking forward to proclaiming the comfort of Jesus Christ to this family and to reassure them that Jesus has overcome sin, death and the grave.

Otherwise, we'll have our Saturday service at 5 pm, as usual.  Sunday worship is at 8 and 11 am and my message is entitled, "Jesus is Our Hope."  Communion will be celebrated at the early service. Bible classes for all ages meets and 9:30 am.  Come and join us this weekend at Life in Christ!

Friday, August 4, 2017

It's Frriday!

Remember Paul Harvey? Those of a certain generation, including me, would tune into the local radio station to hear Paul Harvey deliver the news.  He did not read words but conveyed thoughts. Through pacing and voice modulation Harvey presented the news in a way that was completely captivating.  I loved hearing him say on a day like today, "Good morning, America! It's Frrriday!"

So, because we've reached the end of the week, try this funny on for size:

A little boy, not accustomed to seeing a priest in his “work uniform” went up to the priest and asked, “Why do you dress so funny?” The priest replied, “This is the uniform that I wear when I work.”
The child, still staring at him, asked, “Do you have a boo boo?” The priest was somewhat puzzled, but quickly figured out that the child was looking at his white and black Roman collar. The priest pulled out the white plastic insert and showed it to the child telling him that it was also part of his uniform.

On the back side of the collar there was some writing: “Wash with warm soapy water.” The priest showed this to the little boy and then asked him “Do you know what these words say?
The little boy, obviously much too young to read, stated, “I sure do.” The priest a little taken aback then replies, “OK then, tell me what they say.”

The little boy then replies, “Kills fleas and ticks for up to six month!"

Have a great Frrrriday!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The danger of making your own Jesus

And whenever we do this (adopt our own personal Jesus), no matter how we do it, we always get the Jesus we deserve, which is one as dysfunctional as we are and just as powerless to save.

Jared Wilson, "Unparalleled," page 118

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

We're all jolly beggers

"Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our Need, a joy in total dependence. We become 'jolly beggars'." C.S. Lewis

"We creatures, we jolly beggars, give glory to God by our dependence. Our wounds and defects are the very fissures through which grace might pass. It is our human destiny on earth to be imperfect, incomplete, weak and mortal, and only by accepting that destiny can we escape the force of gravity and receive grace. Only then can we grow close to God."  Philip Yancey

From "What's So Amazing About Grace," page 273