Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Farewell Discourse & Final Prayer of Jesus

In short, this book is a gem.

Dr. D.A. Carson has edited a number of scholarly works and essays and has compiled them into a readable book, appropriate for the seminary professor, pastor or layman.  He tackles St. John, chapters 14 through 17, where John provides a behind-the-scenes look at Jesus giving His disciples words of comfort, aid and hope, as the Lord prepares for His passion to begin.

Carson breaks down the words of Jesus often used in funeral messages from John 14:1-6.  He sheds new light on Jesus', "I am the way and the truth and the life," showing what the Lord meant as He talked to confused disciples.  Carson explains how the Father and the Son take care of the disciples - then and now - by sending the Holy Spirit, who makes clear the work of the Trinity.  Carson's discussion on what Jesus meant when He said to the disciples, "My peace I leave with you..." is a masterpiece.  He explains how this peace is vertical (with God), horizontal (peace with your neighbor) and personal (peace in your own heart).

I am just scratching the surface of what this book has to offer.  What I loved most about the book is that you find Jesus on every page - comforting, assuring and praying for His disciples (and that includes you and me!).  Find this book, mark it up, write what you've learned in your Bible.  Again, D.A. Carson has produced a gem!

Book provided by Baker Books for review.

Delight yourself in the Lord!

What do you take pleasure in?

An Arizona sunset? A long-distance phone call from an old friend? Balancing a grandchild on your knee? Having the entire family at the dinner table for a meal?

Do you know that God wants to have a relationship with you in which you take pleasure in Him?

The psalmist David writes in Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord. This you can do in so many ways.  You can take pleasure...being in God's house to receive His gifts of grace...kneeling at the communion rail to feast on Christ's body and blood for the forgiveness of the assurance of God's love as found in the Gospels...celebrating old friendships and making new ones with Christ at the being used by the Lord through meaningful service in the church.

A word from Holy Scripture can bring delight in the Lord. Lyrics from a great old hymn or a modern new one can produce a feeling of pleasure and contentment as we sing praises to our great and mighty God for His blessings. To take pleasure in your relationship with the Lord is to give thanks to God for His unlimited mercy and grace.

Psalm 37:4 comes with a promise - "and He will give you the desires of your heart." Don't misunderstand - this is not the promise of God's blank check with which you can do or have anything you want. David is simply noting that when a believer takes pleasure in their Lord, they seek to make His will their will and constantly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that their life is in line with the life that God gives - the new life through faith in Christ.

As you read, meditate and pray over this week's readings, heed the advice of the psalmist - Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Did you see the one that said...

One of our regular visitors gave me a manila envelope as she left services last Sunday.  She said, "There's something inside that will give you a chuckle." She had printed off from the internet a bunch of church signs with catchy sayings: "Catch up with Jesus - Lettuce Praise and Relish Him." But included in the material was some signs I hadn't seen before.

From an Anglican Church

Adam and Eve
The First People
 Not To Read the Apple
Terms and Conditions

A Catholic Church Sign

Too Hot To Keep
Changing Sign
Sin Bad Jesus Good
Details Inside

A Presbyterian Church posted:

If You Are
Praying For Snow
Please Stop (they were snowed in)

A Baptist Church chipped in with this:

Whoever Stole
Our AC Unites Keep
One It Is Hot
Where You're Going

And finally from UCC Church

Tweet Others
As You Would
Like To Be Tweeted

Have a blessed day!

Monday, February 26, 2018

The World Hates

I am continuing to work through DA Carson's gem of a book, "The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus."  His focus is on John, chapters 14-17 and in chapter 15, Jesus spends some time talking with His disciples about the opposition they will receive from an unbelieving world.  Carson goes on to make this observation:

Nowhere is the world's hatred more clearly set forth than in those many people who judge themselves to be "liberal" but who are most illiberal when it comes to Christian absolutes. Them demonstrate their forbearance and large-hearted goodness when they confront diverse opinions, varied lifestyles, and even idiotic practices.  But if some Christian claims that Christianity is exclusive (as Jesus insisted), or that moral absolutes exist because they are grounded in the character of God (as the Bible teaches), or that there is a hell to be shunned as well as a heaven to be gained, the most intemperate language is used to excoriate the poor fool.  The world hates.

Page 133 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

4, count them, 4 opportunities to worship!

If it's the weekend, then it's time to plan to worship.  At Life in Christ you've got four services to choose from.

Today at 5 pm - communion will be celebrated.

Tomorrow at 8 am - my sermon series, "Amazed!" continues at all services.

Tomorrow at 9:30 am - our new service with modern Christian music and communion.

Tomorrow at 11 am - communion will be celebrated.

Which one works best for you? Chose one and then come and join us at Life in Christ!

Friday, February 23, 2018

What does God look like?

A Sunday school teacher had given an arts and crafts assignment to her class.  As she walked around the room she stopped one little girl what she was drawing.

The girl said, "I'm drawing a picture of God."

The Sunday school replied, "No one knows what God looks like."

The girl replied, "They will in a minute!"

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wow! What a hockey game!

My dear, sweet wife and I had eaten our low-cal chocolate bars and it was time to turn out the lights and get some shut-eye, as they say.  But as I laid there, I kept thinking about what I was missing - Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin skiing in the Alpine combined event.

I was impressed how Shiffrin came back after a disappointing performance in the slalom, her best event.  She nabbed the silver medal.  Von, who raced last, hit a gate with the tip of her ski and was unable to complete the run.

With that done I was ready to head to bed.  But first I thought I should check in on the USA/Canada Women's Gold Medal hockey game.

It was in the third period, the Americans had tied the game and they were really taking the action to Canada.  Had it not been by stout goaltending from the Canadian goalie the Americans would have put the game away.

The 20 minute overtime period was equally exciting and, again, the American had their chances but couldn't score. 

The game would end with a shoot-out and I was quite concerned.  Even though the USA had really controlled the 3rd period and overtime, anything can happen in a shoot-out.  And the USA had a 20 year-old goal keeper in the pipes.

The teams were tied after five shots.  America went ahead with a beautiful goal that got past Canada's excellent goaltender.  Then Canada sent out their best scorer.  She tried to go through the legs of Maddie Rooney, the 20 year-old USA goaltender, but was turned aside.  With that the USA overcame years of disappointment (they had finished second to Canada in the last four Olympics) and celebrated - they were gold medalists!

It gave me a warm feeling to see the players celebrating - it was pure joy!  Watching them stand as a team while the Star Spangled Banner played gave me goosebumps.

But the most impressive things of all - the players were singing the National Anthem!

It frustrates me to see so many of our gold medalists remain mute while the anthem is being played.  You happens it over and over again.  And then you watch many athletes from other countries singing to their anthems with gusto and you can't help but wonder what is wrong with so many from our teams.

Not these ladies.  They sang with pure joy.  They looked proud to be Americans.  They represented their country well.  And I was glad to see it, even if it was past 1 am when I went to bed! 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Love Thy Body by Nancy R. Pearcey

As a Orthodox Christian it's easy to feel out-of-step with the liberal world-view that permeates our culture today.  Nancy Pearcey can help you to better understand what is happening.

Her new book, "Love Thy Body" gets to the heart of today's life and sexuality issues.  She explains how the pro-abortion side has shifted the argument from conception to personhood.  She shows how when a person is no longer thought of as "human" but as a "person" then it becomes quite easy to accept abortion and euthanasia as acceptable, even normal.  Pearcy explains how the "hook-up" culture has turned sex into a non-emotional act which demeans the gift which God gave in sexuality.  She also shows why we should be concerned as the courts get involved in matters of sexuality and how they take a non-Biblical viewpoint, allowing a person to decide who they are no matter what kind of body they have.

"Love Thy Body" is well-researched and also is easy to read.  Pearcey concludes by offering ways Christian individuals and families can be beacons of light and hope in a world full of darkness and evil. The opportunities to minister to the lonely and disillusioned may present themselves sooner than we think.

This book was supplied by Baker Books for review.

A reflection on Psalm 32

This morning I want to share a couple of thoughts from Martin Luther on Psalm 32.  You might read the psalm before going forward with the post but it's up to you:-).

The 32nd Psalm is an exemplary psalm of instruction that teaches us what sin is, and how one might be freed from it and be righteous before God. Our reason does not know what sin is and tries to make satisfaction for it with works. but the psalmist says that even saints are sinners. They cannot become holy or blessed except by confessing themselves as sinners before God, knowing that they are regarded as righteous only from the grace of God, apart from any service or work.

In short, our righteousness is called (in plain language) the forgiveness of our sins. Or, as it says here: "sins not counted," "sins covered," "sins not to be seen." Here stand the clear plain words: All the saints are sinners and remain sinners. But they are holy because god in His grace neither sees nor counts these sins, but forgets, forgives and covers them. There is thus no distinction between the saints and the non-saints. They are sinners alike and all sin daily, only that the sins of the holy are not counted but covered; and the sins of the unholy are not covered but counted.

Martin Luther, "Reading the Psalms with Luther," CPH 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

My Lord, my love, is crucified

I came across some poetry from Charles Wesley yesterday while reading my devotional book.  I don't know if these are hymn lyrics - I don't recognize them from any hymn I know. But I was taken by how Wesley ended each stanza.

O Lord divine, what hast thou done?
 The Incarnate God hath died for me!
The Father's coeternal Son
 Bore all my sins upon the tree!
The Son of God for me hath died
 My Lord, my Love, is crucified.

Behold Him, all ye that pass by
 The bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Savior die,
 And say, was ever grief like his?
Come, feel with me His blood applied:
 My Lord, my Love, is crucified. Amen.

Lent is the time that we are given the opportunity to see again with fresh eyes that sacrifice God - that's right, God - made to atone for all our sins.  May your observance of Lent cause you to fall in love all over again with your Lord and Savior.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Be a gift to someone today

I just finished reading Ann Voskamp's lovely book, "Be the Gift." The book is filled with examples of different ways an individual can be a gift by offering something of themselves to someone else.

I thought the book was best summarized by a comment a woman made after burying her husband.  She said, This is all I know now about living: every moment is a gift with each other - and every moment we get to be a gift to each other.  This is all there is.

To whom can you be a "gift" today?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Say that again?

Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together during church services. Joel giggled, sang, and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had enough. “You're not supposed to talk out loud in church.”

“Why? Who's going to stop me?” Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, “See those two men standing by the door? They're hushers.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018

No regrets following Jesus

            Have you ever had second thoughts about something or someone?  Ever wish you’d taken more time before you bought the new car…or said “yes” when asked to go on a date…or accepting the new assignment at work?  When the car breaks down or the date is a waste of time or the new assignment causes headaches and bellyaches, it’s so easy to second guess yourself about the decision you made.

            The people who received and read the letter to the Hebrews were having second thoughts.  They had converted from Judaism to Christianity.  The good news of God’s love in Christ Jesus had made their hearts glad.  But their decision to embrace Christ as Savior brought derision and scorn from those who had rejected the Lord’s forgiveness and love.  They lashed out at these new Christians in both word and deed.  For the new converts, there was the possibility of facing persecution and even death for the faith.

            The letter to the Hebrews was designed to help the Jewish converts deal with their doubts.  However, this is a letter from which we can all benefit.  You might even want to spend some time during Lent doing an in-depth study of this New Testament book. Using the inspired Word of God, the writer shows how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the promises of the prophets.  In times of persecution and struggle, whether 2000 years ago or today, Hebrews teaches us that there only one Lord and Savior to whom we can place our trust.  Trust in Jesus and walk with Him – there is no reason to ever look back!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A prayer for Ash Wednesday

Almighty God, You have created us out of the dust of the earth; grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, so we may remember that only by Your gracious gift are we given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Amen.


The church is like...

The church is the inn and the infirmary for those who are sick and in need of being made well. But heaven is the palace of the healthy and the righteous.

Martin Luther

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

On the last day of the Epiphany season

Lord, transfigure our perception, With the purest light that shines
 And recast our life's intentions, To the shape of Your designs
Till we seek no other glory, Than what lies past Calvary's hill
 And our living and our dying, And our rising by Your will

From "Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory" verse three
Lutheran Service Book, #416

Saturday, February 10, 2018

At least it wasn't the flu

The last few days for me didn't go according to plan.

I had appointments to keep and people to meet and a practice on top of it all.

None of it happened.

Wednesday afternoon I started to feel...something.  Scratchy throat. Bit of a headache.  I pounded the zinc and the Airborn and went to be figuring I'd be just fine in the morning.

Except I wasn't.

I tried to go to work.  I thought, 'I'll just push through this and I'll be fine."

That thinking lasted about an hour.

Home I went and into the bed I got.

My dear, sweet wife was most concerned.  We both had avoided the flu and she was certain I'd brought it home.

But I never became feverish.  Just tired and achy.

This morning has started out much better.  I believe another day of rest and lots of Sherri's tea and I'll be ready to go tomorrow.  However, if you are ill, here are some things to do, taken from

 Already sick?
Here are four things you can do to get better, according to Jeff Robertson, MD, and chief medical officer for health insurer Regence.
Take some alone time
This is the when youll want to shy away from company. Stay home and take care of yourself.
Watch your symptoms
If it goes from simple sniffles to raging sickness, contact your doctor. Your cold may have escalated to the flu.
Drink, drink, drink
Dehydration can easily occur (especially if you are running a fever or vomiting). If youre unable to keep fluids down, contact your physician.
Nows not the time to save up
Dispose of all used tissues. As easy as it is to grab whatever is on the nightstand (including crumpled Kleenex), dont! You may be furthering the cold.

To keep from getting anyone else's bug remember to wash, wash, wash those hands! Also, get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water and don't double dip.  In fact, don't even single dip - unless you're the only one using the dip!

Oh, there is one more thing you can do.  Come to church at LICL this weekend - Saturday at 5 pm or Sunday at 8, 9:30 or 11 am.  I'm not guaranteeing that you won't catch the flu.  But, come.  Call it spiritual immunization!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Happy birthday to Sherri, happy birthday to you!

Today, my dear, sweet wife celebrates her birthday. We thank God for the blessing she is in our lives. Loving wife, nurturing mother, cool "Nana," and the best pastor's wife ever! Happy birthday, sweetie! Love you bunches!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What Jesus does for you

I have long admired Joni Eareckson Tada.  She broke her neck in a diving accident as a teenager and has been confined to a wheel chair ever since.  But her steadfast faith in Jesus never fails to encourage. She was once quoted as saying, "Even a person in a wheel chair can walk with Jesus." While working through Ann Voskamp's "Be the Gift," I found this quote from Joni.  Boy, does she nail Jesus!

(Jesus) went without comfort so that you might have it. He postponed joy so that you might share it. He willingly chose isolation so that you might never be alone in your hurts and sorrows.  (page 124)

Lord Jesus, thank You for the comfort You provide, especially in times of disappointment and loss. There is nothing I have experienced or will experience that You have not already faced. Thank You for giving me true joy that can never be extinguished by life's circumstances. Thank You for Your promise to never leave us in the lurch, so to speak, but to always be near us to guide us through this life and to bring us to eternal life. All praise to You for Your amazing grace and tender mercy.  Amen.

Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

I love Your house!

One Sunday, the pastor of a church in Florida gathered the children in front of the altar for a children's message.  He began by asking the question, "What does the word 'holy' mean?"

After a short pause, a little girl raised her hand.  She answered, "Being holy means that you do what your mother asked you to do the first time!"

Children's messages are just one of the reasons I love being in church on Sunday. You never know what priceless answers you just might get to one of your questions.

But the main reason I love being in the Lord's house on Sunday is because this is the place where we encounter our gracious and merciful God.

David says as much in Psalm 27:4 - One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.

In Psalm 84, a choir sings - Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

As the pilgrims made their way to the Temple during times of religious celebration, they would sing - I rejoiced with those who said to me: "Let us go to the house of the Lord."  (Psalm 122:1)

Not only is the Lord present in His house, He showers His people with rich gifts of grace - His Word of forgiveness, His very body and blood, in, with and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion, the rich renewal of the Holy Spirit who comes to each of us in the Gospel.

I pray that every time you approach the doors of your church, you breath a silent word of praise - I love the house where You live, O Lord, the place where Your glory dwells!  (Psalm 26:8)

Monday, February 5, 2018

That game was super!

Super Bowl Sunday - it's kind of like a national holiday, right? In our family it's been customary to have the kids and grand kids over, place a spread of food on the dining room table, graze at the table all day and then finally settle down to watch the big game.

This year was different.  Our youngest daughter lives in Wisconsin.  Our oldest daughter and her family and plans with another family who have become good friends.  A couple from our church invited us to their house to watch the game but then we got a call from my son who said his two kids really wanted to see Papa and Nanny.  How do you say "no" to that request.

We were all pretty certain that the Patriots would win the game.  And when they fell behind we were sure of it.  Remember the big deficit they made up last year to beat the Falcons? Tom Brady, who has broken my heart more than once, is a big game clutch player.  I don't bet against him.

But even after the Patriots took the lead late in the game, Philly did not fold.  They Foles! Nick Foles, their back up quarterback, a guy who was thinking of retirement about a year ago, led them on the game wining drive.  He even caught a touchdown pass on a play called "the Philly special."  Apparently, when the play was called in the huddle the players couldn't help but smile.  They had run the play six times in practice and it worked every time.  It was a gutsy call on fourth down and one yard to go but it worked! Foles was votes MVP of the game. 

Since Philadelphia has a great quarterback coming back next year, maybe the Cardinals should put Foles on their radar.  Just saying.

None of the commercials stood out to me.  Truth is, I was so caught up in the game.  The first responder commercial I saw was impressive.  I saw Eli Manning and some of the Giants players doing some dancing.  The rest seemed pretty forgettable to me.

Justin Timberlake? Now I know I'm really old because I couldn't understand a word he sang and couldn't figure out what the big deal is about him.  But I was assured by my daughter in law that JT (as he is called) is a big deal!

What was more impressive to me was how the Eagles coach and two of his players demonstrated their Christian faith by giving Jesus praise on national television.  I'm sure that Jesus had nothing to do with the Eagles victory.  But I read on a church sign that there are 33 mentions of eagles in the Bible and none about patriots. 

Draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Dreaming With God

Sarah Beth Marr's, "Dreaming With God," is a book which is not just to be read.  It is to be lived.

Marr, a former professional ballet dancer, was taught to dream.  And she did just that.  But life has a way of throwing cold water on our dreams sometime and Marr wondered if there was a better way to see dreams fulfilled.

She discovered the answer is "yes," when we recognize that God has the power to see us through to the fulfillment of those dreams as we place our faith and trust in Him.  As Marr teaches, sometimes God will ask us to be patient and to live our daily lives believing that the One who created the heaven and the earth can also see us through to the realization of our hopes and dreams.

A nice feature of the book is that at the end of each chapter there is a section called, "Prayer, Scripture and Reflection."  This is not a book that is to be devoured in a single sitting.  "Dreaming With God" will be most enjoyable as the reader prays and meditates on the material and the Scriptures shared.

In doing so, the reader will ultimately find themselves dreaming and dancing with God.  What better thing could there be?

My life isn't so bad after all

We all have those moments in life when because of certain circumstances we feel like life is pretty awful.

You or someone you love suffers an illness.  Your child gets in trouble.  You do something really stupid. Finances get stretched to the limit. There's a death in the family.

It's pretty easy to throw yourself a pity party and in the process convince yourself that nobody has a life that's worse than yours.

Until you discover someone who does.

My week was pretty tough.  But it was nothing like what Nate Lipinski and his family has gone through.

You might have either heard or read about Nate's wife, Christin.  She's the 36 year old wife, mother to three beautiful kids, and school teacher who came down with a serious staph infection.  30 percent of her skin has been removed from the left side of her body.  She is deeply sedated and has undergone 11 surgeries in an effort to stop the infection from spreading.  She is presently at the Maricopa County Burn Unit where doctors and staff are working hard to deal with the aftermath of all these surgeries.

I spent an hour with Nate yesterday.  I was amazed at how well he is dealing with his wife's illness. Even in spite of all that has happened Nate remains hopeful that Christin is making a full recovery.

Our congregation took a free-will offering last weekend for the Lipinski's and the final total was just over $2800.  For me the offering was just one more example of just how generous our people are.

Won't you join us in praying for Christin, Nate, and the children? God loves to hear His people pray.

You can also join us for worship this weekend.  5 pm today for our blended music service; 8 and 11 am with traditional hymns; 9:30 am with modern Christian songs.

Make your Sunday "super" by worshiping at LICL!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Top 10 Signs You're Reading a Bad Bible Translation

I was looking through the CBD catalog last week and I was struck by the multitude of pages devoted to the sale of Bibles.  I remember way back when, as they say, that the only choices you had with buying a Bible was getting one with or without the concordance.  But now, wow! There are study Bibles, thin-line Bibles, giant print Bibles, the archaeology Bible, the counseling Bible, the Max Lucado study notes Bible, the Chuck Swindoll study notes Bible and on and on it goes.  And that's not counting the variety of Bibles you can download on your favorite mobile device.  So, with all of that in mind, here's a list that you can use to guide you when you purchase your next Bible.

10) Renames the Epistle of James, "The Book of Straw"

9) In a startling switch, the words of Satan are printed in "hellish red"

8) Pontius Pilot?

7) In a nod to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament must be read from right to left

6) Replaces concordance with recipes from the kitchen of Martha of Bethany

5) Endorsed by Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and Larry the Cable Guy

4) One version published in a notebook binder so you can remove any Scriptures you don't like

3) Proverbs 13:14 now reads, "The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life but God helps those who help themselves"

2) Eschewing bookstores, version can be purchased wherever fine wine and liquor are sold

And the number one sign that you're reading a bad Bible translation is...

1) The name is the Living Standard International Inclusive Inspirational Interlinear Study Bible or better known as the TLSIIIISB version!