Thursday, November 30, 2017

Don't lose your mind!

Anxiety can come out of nowhere. Get busy, get distracted, and you can forget God. Forget God, and you lose your mind and your peace. Forget God, and all you remember is anxiety. Anxiety can give you God-Alzheimer's. Forget the face of God, and you forget your own name is Beloved.

Ann Voskamp, "Be the Gift," page 52

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Find your purpose?

You have new purpose in Christ. God purposefully uses you through every day tasks. God uses your hands to feed, protect and care for others. God uses your honest labor to bless your community. God uses your mouth to speak comfort, truth and love. God uses your ears to hear the hurts and hopes, fears and failures of your neighbors. And God uses you to bring Jesus to other useless runaways, thereby making them useful again.

Trevor Sutton, "Being Lutheran," page 209

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Psalm 34:15-19

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry;

the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them;

He delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit.

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from then all.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Day off - thank you, Lord!

Thank you, Lord, for a day off.

A day to sleep late.  It felt so good to get a full night's sleep for a change.

We've got a busy month of services and activities coming up.  Help me to let those things go.

Let me rejoice in the time You've given me today. 

All that other stuff? It can wait until tomorrow.

Let me rest in Your peace, Your gift.  You don't give to me what the world gives.

The world may provide temporary peace. 

But even where there is no peace in my life, You've given me peace for my heart and mind.

Through my baptism I was made Your child.

I am in a right relationship with You.

My sins are forgiven.

Your Spirit lives within me.

My destiny is sure and certain - eternal life in heaven.

Lord, I give you the things that cause anxiety and turmoil.

Let me rest in Your peace, Your gift. 


Friday, November 24, 2017

The most powerful word

Is there any word more powerful than giving?





Everything that matters in living comes down to giving.

Ann Voskamp, "Be the Gift," page 38

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A prayer for thanksgiving

Almighty and gracious Father, I give You thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them.  Make me, I pray, a faithful steward of all Your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of Your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.  Amen.

A blessed thanksgiving to all you blessed readers out there!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dreaming the Beatles

I love the Beatles.  There, I said it.  I heard "I Want To Hold Your Hand" while riding in the family car in December 1963 and I was hooked. 

I remember seeing them on February 9, 1964 on the Ed Sullivan Show.  My parents, like many adults, thought the Beatles look horrid, especially with that long hair.  I thought they looked and sounded fabulous.

I remember how my friends and I would purchase the albums and singles and then swap them around so everyone got to hear the latest Beatles music.  I remember the first time I heard "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."  I was speechless.  It was an album like no other and it has stood the test of time (along with the other records).  I remember going to buy the White Album and discovering it was a double album! I didn't bring enough money to buy it so I had to go back home to get more money - and I didn't mind a bit! I mean, a double album of Beatles music!!

I remember the acrimonious breakup in 1970 and the realization that there would be no more Beatles music.  And while John, Paul, George and Ringo have recorded great music during their solo careers, I really can't think of a single project that was the equal of the music they made together.  Opinions about music are usually subjective so you may disagree with me.  That's OK.  I'm sure I'm right:-)

I have over 100 Beatles titles in my library.  Each one has brought me a little closer to the group. One book I read earlier this year was Rob Sheffield's "Dreaming the Beatles."  Sheffield is a long-time writer of music and has been published in Rolling Stone magazine, among others. 

Sheffield writes how he was amazed at the sales records the Beatles "1" CD produced.  From his research into why that CD was so heavily purchased he discovered : I proved that three things never change: 1) people love the Beatles; 2) it's a little weird and scary how much some people love the Beatles; 3) even people who love the Beatles keep underestimating how much people love the Beatles. (page 307).

Fifty years after it's original release, "Sgt. Pepper," reentered the Billboard Top 100 chart this summer.  It is now rumored that the White Album will be rereleased next year, its 50th anniversary. 

Who will be standing at the door waiting for Zia's Record Exchange to open on the day the White Album is released? Me. Why? Read the opening sentence of this blog entry.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A BFP (11/20/2013)-Mr. Irrelevant you're not!

"Mr. Irrelevant" you're not!

Each spring the National Football League holds a draft of all college players eligible to play in the NFL.  255 players are chosen but the last player, number 255, receives a special designation.  He is called "Mr. Irrelevant."  Being chosen as the last player in the draft is only slightly better than not being picked at all.  Football experts figure that as the last player in the draft, you have only two chances of making an NFL team - slim and none.  Hence, the tag, "Mr. Irrelevant."

Maybe you've had the same experience as "Mr. Irrelevant."  Perhaps you were chosen last for the team, the last one asked to the dance, the last one picked for the assignment.  Maybe you've felt like your name was "Mr. Irrelevant" or "Ms. Afterthought."

The apostle John reminds believers that you also carry a special description - "Child of God."  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  (1 John 3:1)  And this is no honorary title - God has adopted you into His family through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.  In fact, you might say that your baptismal certificate also serves as your adoption papers! You are neither irrelevant nor an afterthought to God.  You are important to the Father - important enough that He sent His only Son to be your Savior.  Rest securely in the knowledge that you are a child of God!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

I love Your house, O Lord!

The psalmist writes, "I love the house where You live, O Lord, the place where Your glory dwells." (Psalm 26:8)

Join us at God's house this weekend for worship.  Saturday at 5 pm & Sunday at 8 and 11 am. My sermon has a pretty nondescript title, "Our Giving God." Hopefully, the message will be more exciting than the title. 

See you at LICL!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Look at how God's Word helped Joni Eareckson Tada

Hello blog friends!

Yesterday's post about the fictional Father Tim from the Mitford series of books generated a lot of action here on my blog.  The reminder that God's Word comforts, directs and helps us in all kinds of situations is needed - especially for us who suffer from depression or discouragement or grief.

Today, I urge you to check out  Ann Voskamp is a popular Christian writer and she is all over social media.  Her blog makes for interesting reading and the photography she includes is an added plus.

On her blog today is a guest article written by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Joni's story is quite familiar to many.  As a teenager she suffered a broken neck in a diving accident, was paralyzed from the neck down, and has spent 50 years of her life in a wheel chair.  That's has not stopped Joni from sharing her story of how she has relied on God's grace to see her through all these years.  Joni says that even people in wheelchairs can "walk with Jesus."

Joni lives with debilitating pain and she tells of one particular day when she was suffering so badly that going to the Joni and Friends office was the last thing she wanted to do.  Then she began remembering God's promises.  She used those promises, actually quoting the Scriptures, as her prayer to God.  Then something happened.

Her attitude changed.  The Scripture enabled her to focus on God and not on the pain.  As she notes, the pain did not leave her.  But the temptation to become hopelessly depressed did.  Just like Father Tim, knowing and using God's Word lifted her spirits and restored her hope.

The article is entitled, "How to Feel Comfort Through the Really Hard Days."  It will be worth your time to check it out.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Turn to the Psalms

All of us have people in our lives that have influenced us or made a lasting impression in some way. Because of their faith in us or the love they've shown to us, we consider such people to be heroes. We look up to them.  We admire the example they set for us. We want to be like them.

One of my heroes is Father Tim. I've never met him in person. In fact, he doesn't exist - except in the pages of the Mitford series of books by author Jan Karon.

Father Tim is the pastor of the Lord's Chapel in the fictional town of Mitford, North Carolina. Each of the Mitford books follows the life of the humble and devoted pastor as he cares for the people of his little community. I appreciate the fact that Father Tim knows what people need the most - the Word of God. And he uses the Psalms very effectively in his ministry.

For example, as Father Tim sought to minister to a young man who had been abandoned by his mother, the pastor prayed Psalm 32:8b: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."

When searching for encouragement, Father Tim remembered Psalm 68:19: "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens."

To the individual near death, the first verse of Psalm 27 was Father Tim's prayer: "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"

I read on another blog this morning that people suffering from depression can find real comfort from reading the Psalms.  A favorite devotional book of my, "The Divine Hours," consists mostly of reading and praying the Psalms.  I have been surprised at how often a Psalm reading for the day gives voice to my feeling and struggles. It feels good to pray the words that others have offered to God.

But praying the Psalms is worthwhile for every child of God.  So I pray that you, like Father Tim, will find verses and chapters in the Psalms that give you comfort in troubled times and peace when your heart is troubled.

God bless your day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What pride does

Pride confuses one's identity with God's and makes us think of ourselves as larger than we really are.

Hannah Anderson, as quoted in "Free of Me," page 139

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Give away your life!

Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back - given back with bonus and blessing.  Giving, not getting is the way.

Luke 6:38 from the Message translation

Having a depressed person in the family is like...

I have written on a few occasions about my battle with depression.  This is an illness that I've been able to manage pretty well for the past 20 years or so.  In early 2016 I had a change of medications that made me feel really great. I dropped the other medication that I'd been taking for five previous years - I felt that I didn't needed it anymore.  But the great feeling faded pretty fast.  By September of last year the black cloud descended on me in a way I had never experienced before. 

Since then, life has been like a roller coaster ride, with lots of ups and downs.  There are days when I feel pretty good, like my normal self.  I'm positive, optimistic and have lots of energy.  But sure to follow are the days when it's a victory just to get out of bed.  I go down to church and try to look like all is well - I hate to worry some of the members of church who are concerned about my condition.  But everything seems like it takes a massive effort and I get home at the end of the day exhausted and feeling guilty, that I've let so many people down who need my ministry but didn't get it because I couldn't do it.  And that's the way it's been for the past 13 months.

I recorded this quote from the golf analyst and interviewer, David Feherty, who also suffers greatly from depression: Having a depressed person in the family is like having a death in the family. At least the dead person has the decency to not be around anymore.

So, having a depressed person in the family creates a special burden.  My dear, sweet wife wants to help so badly.  She hates to see me hurting.  And there are those at church who know how tough life is for me and they will do anything to support me.  I know there are people praying that the dark cloud will lift. That's a blessing.

If you have a depressed person in your family or know of something who is suffering, you can do a few things for them.  Be patient and know that they want to feel better and normal.  Be supportive and understanding and cut them a little extra slack when they forget to do something or fail to show enthusiasm for something that is important to you.  Be prayerful and continue to lift up that person before the Lord's throne of grace in prayer.  In my case, I know that God loves me, considers me His child in baptism, and will see me through this present situation.  And for the person suffering from depression, that's the best news of all.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The devil did not win!

How come we so often act as if the devil were still celebrating? How come we so often live as if it were still Good Friday & Easter had never come? We can't blame the devil for getting off the canvas after Easter's knock out blow.  We should expect the master chameleon, as he sweats to hold the world captive in chaos and uncertainty, to camouflage defeat as victory.

As Luther Taught the Word of Truth, page 56

Friday, November 10, 2017

What greed is

Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.

Erich Fromm, as quoted in "Free of Me," page 86

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Free of Me

Author Sharon Hodde Miller makes a compelling argument as she explains "Why life is better when it's not about you," in her new book, "Free of Me." (Baker Books)

The honesty of the book captivated me.  Hodde writes frankly about her struggles in trying to live her life without always having to be in the spotlight.  She shows how the self-focused life actually makes us miserable, weakens relationships and prevents us from seeing how we might touch lives with the love of Jesus.  When we are "free of me," we are really free to turn our attentions to those around us and, in doing so, we reap a joyful attitude and a more satisfied and fulfilled life.

My only quibble with the book is with the "interlude" that follows the first nine chapters.  Miller talks about a piano her family owned and how, over time, that piano fell out of tune.  She then goes on to write about how easy it is for the human soul to fall out of tune when when is always focused on self. Her solution is to utilize resources for developing spiritual disciplines which can move a person's gaze from inward to an outward look toward God.

Because of our sinful nature, inherited from our first parents - Adam and Eve - we will never be fully in tune in this life.  But when we come to God, in repentance and faith, confess our sin of self-focus and seek His forgiveness, God's Word of absolution tunes up back up, so to speak, and frees us love God and to love our neighbor. 

Still, I was blessed to read this book.  If you desire to take a critical look at how our selfish ways keep us from living the new life in Christ, then get yourself a copy of "Free of Me."  It would be a worthwhile investment.

Where Brian Epstein met the Beatles

November 9, 1961, Brian Epstein, who ran a record shop in his father's music store, visited the Cavern Club in Liverpool to see a band who had been featured on a song called, "My Bonnie." It was the first time Epstein laid eyes on the Beatles, who played lunchtime sessions at the club.  The conditions of the Cavern Club appalled Epstein and the look of the Beatles was scruffy at best.  But the Beatles generated excitement with their sound and stage presence and Epstein was captivated by the group.  He quickly connected with John, Paul, George and Pete (yes, Ringo had not yet joined the group) and offered to be their manager.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Sherri and I visited the Cavern Club in the summer of 2014.  What is there now is not the original but the recreation captures the atmosphere of what it was like to visit the Cavern during your lunch hour from work.  It was a thrill to be in the area that helped to launch the Fab Four.  After our visit there all I could say was, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Christ to the other

As our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor...and each one should become...a Christ to the other.

Martin Luther, quoted in the book, "Be the Gift," by Ann Voskamp, page 13

Our mission?

Making disciples to the ends of the world and to the end of time is the work He left us to do.

Andrew M. Davis, "Revitalize," page 199

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Message - Matthew 6:34

I'm ordinarily not a big fan of The Message translation of the Bible.  But I do like what Eugene Peterson did with Matthew 6:34:

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

From "When Your Church Feels Stuck"

I appreciated these two thoughts from author Chris Sonksen:

Remember, to be unclear is to be unkind.

Sometimes you have to choose leadership over friendship.

Monday, November 6, 2017

BFP (blast from the past) 3 year ago today

For years I've used CPH's "Today's Light Bible," with devotions by Jane Fryer as my resource for daily Bible reading and meditation.  Fryer's devotions are worth the price of the book.  I was greatly encouraged by this devotion as Fryer wrote about Abraham and Sarah.  In part, she wrote:

How like us - to think that somehow God can't or won't keep His Word, especially when we don't see Him fulfill His promises right away.  How like God - to come to us, not with words of rebuke but of grace.

God asserts a remarkable truth to Abram and Sarai by changing their names.  These desert nomads with dust in their sandals were, in reality, His royal children.  Kings would come from Abraham.  Sarai was now Sarah - "princess.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

A delay is better than a disaster.

A fortune from a cookie opened by Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, carried on Flight 1549. which crashed in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 (recorded in his book, "Highest Duty," page 306.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Serve the Lord with Gladness

is the theme of the Lutheran Women in Mission's Zone Rally being held today at Life in Christ.  Yours truly will offer the opening devotion.  Special music will be provide and several guests speakers are scheduled.  Plus, the food and fellowship is great!

Later in the afternoon I'll be doing the committal service for one of our dear saints who has gone to rest in Jesus, Loretta Hertzog.  I often visited with her and she would always have a cup of coffee ready so that we could sit and chat.  She will be missed by her family and by us all.

At the 5 pm Saturday service, my little group and I will provide the music so come and join us.  Or be with us on Sunday at 8 and 11 am for worship.  My sermon title is "No More Tears."  Also, we'll begin a new Bible study, based on Max Lucado's new book, "Anxious for Nothing."

Then, at 3 pm, we will hold an installation service for Jerry Andersen and Kevin Svec to serve as Deacons at LICL.  Pastor Dave Poedel will serve as preacher.  A reception will be held afterward in the Christian Life Center hall.

A busy weekend for sure.  I will be trying hard to do as the psalmist has instructed - "Serve the Lord with Gladness!"

Friday, November 3, 2017

Stuff I Like

A good cup of coffee in the morning.  We buy a product called "Jose's" from Costco.  It has a full-bodied taste but is not too strong.  We can never go back to Folger's now.

Portals of Prayer.  While I was visiting one of our members in the hospital yesterday, she and her husband were telling me how they read their Portals of Prayer together every morning.  I think that sometimes Christians think that unless they are devoting a goodly amount of time for Bible study and prayer, their devotional time is bogus.  Not true!  Portals of Prayer gives the reader a short Bible reading, a devotion that can be read in a couple of minutes and a prayer to help you start the day. A very valuable too indeed.

Playing with our little group.  This weekend Connie, Dan, Ron and I - joined by Pete on guitar - will provide the music for our Saturday service at 5 pm and will play "Cornerstone" and "In Christ Alone" during our Deacons Installation service Sunday afternoon at 3 pm.  I can't explain it but there seems to be something magical when we practice a song and it suddenly comes together.We have lots of fun!

Proclaiming God's Word.  And I get to do a lot of it this weekend.  Saturday morning I'll provide the opening devotion for the LWML Zone gathering; Saturday afternoon I'll meet with the Hertzog family for a committal service for their mother, Loretta.  Sunday, at 8 and 11 am, I'll share the message, "No More Tears," for All Saints Sunday.  How could I have known years ago that my career in radio broadcasting would actually be a warm up for sharing the good news of Jesus' love for three congregations.  Praise God!

Have a blessed weekend in the Lord!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The will of God..

Found in my mailbox at church:

The will of God will never take you,
Where the grace of God cannot keep you
Where the arms of God cannot support you
Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs
Where the power of God cannot endow you

The will of God will never take you
Where the spirit of God cannot work through you
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you
Where the army of God cannot protect you
Where the hands of God cannot mold you

The will of God will never take you
Where the love of God cannot enfold you
Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you
Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears
Where the authority of God cannot overrule for you

The will of God will never take you
Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears
Where the Word of God cannot feed you
Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you
Where the omnipresence of God cannot find you

Author unknown

Church beware!

A church can become frozen in time, clinging to the remnants of a byegone era when the church was the largest in town and all was right with the world. The result can be that the church's membership generally gets older and older as time goes by.

Andrew M. Davis, "Re-Vitalize" page 187

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

When we suffer, we are not alone

Therefore, when we feel pain, when we suffer, when we die, let us turn to this, firmly believing and certain that it is not we alone, but Christ and the church who are in pain and are suffering and dying with us. Christ does not want us to be alone on the road of death, from which all mortals shrink. Indeed, we set upon the road of suffering and death accompanied by the entire church…All that remains for us now is to pray that our eyes, that is, the eyes of our faith, may be opened and that we may see the church around us.
Martin Luther