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The Harvest

Well, we finally got all our fruit harvested. The apricots, peaches, and plums are all picked, eaten, dehydrated, and/or canned! God blessed Patty and me with an abundance of each fruit. It was a lot of work but worth it in the end. I know I’m already looking forward to sitting in front of the T.V. in the wintertime while I drink hot chocolate and eat dried fruit. (Dried watermelon is my favorite!) Yummm!

The Church has its “harvest” as well. Having been a pastor for over 40 years, I have seen a blessed harvest of souls. Some have gone on to continue to grow in the faith and became the source of great encouragement! Some have remained tepid and made me wonder if they had any faith at all! Others turned their backs on the Christian faith through immorality, drunkenness, etc. Even though I tried to preach, teach, evangelize and counsel faithfully, the world, the flesh, and the Devil too often got their way. The “fruit” I saw on the Body of Christ that “rotted” through unbelief was discouraging, to say the least!

But, like our delicious peaches, plums, and apricots, the fruit that remained healthy was super tasty! In the same way, those who supported and continue to support the Church with their hearts, souls, and minds have brought the “fruit” of joy (Galatians 5:22) to our hearts. I have wept with those who have lost loved ones as they reassured me that their child, spouse, etc., is in “heaven because of what Jesus did.” (Colossians 1: 5-6) I have seen those in abject poverty give above and beyond what most would consider being a “fair offering”. I have seen people lose their incomes because they simply would NOT compromise their faith! Their “fruit’ is, graciously, not forgotten, either here or in eternity.

While there are many trees that produce “bad fruit” (Luke 6: 43) and that in the time just before our Savior comes again that there will be almost NO “good fruit” being borne (Luke 18: 8), we rejoice that our Savior is with us always (Matthew 2820) and that ALL “fruit’ that is borne out of our souls is the result of God’s grace being poured out into our hearts and souls through the means of grace. (John 15:5). Praise God for His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness that He gives to us through the Word and Sacraments! May the “fruit” of the Spirit continue to spring forth in our humble church and throughout the “holy, Christian Church” until our Redeemer comes again. I’m looking forward to the “harvest”!

In Jesus’ Name,
Rev. William C. Mack


This week is dedicated, in part, in the Lutheran church to the celebration of the life of Johann Sebastian Bach[n 1]. He was born in Germany on March 1685 and died on 28 July 1750); a German composer and musician of the late Baroque period. In my humble opinion, he was a musical genius. I, personally, love his music so much that on my ordination into the public ministry of the Lutheran church I asked that one of his compositions, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” be sung as a solo.

Incredibly, even with the loss of his parents at the age of 14, God guided him into avenues that would bring about his love for music. As others saw his talents he was blessed to be able to study music in schools not available to most. Ironically enough when he graduated, the first job he applied for as an organist was met with refusal! As his skill became known on a wider scale, he began performing for and writing compositions for aristocratic folks. Eventually, he married and became the chief organist for Saint Thomas Lutheran Church in Leipzig, Germany. (My wife and I were blessed to see the recital for a “Bach Celebration” there 8 years ago!)

So much has been written about this man who composed over 1,100 pieces of music that I cannot begin to do it justice. As one hears his hymns, etc., there is no doubt in one’s mind why J.S. Bach was considered to be “the 5th evangelist”! His music brings one closer to God because it is Christ-centered.

As we go through life, we too may, like Bach find incredible difficulties. A sister-in-Christ reminded me recently of this wonderful text; written by Jeremiah to the elders in captivity in Babylon. How they must have been heartbroken over losing their homes, families, friends, and Temple. But through it all God told them, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29: 11)

God will use you, His child, and guide you (and me) to where we should be and how we are to be used to His glory and to the edification of the saints in Christ. We may not become musical geniuses, like J.S. Bach, but we will be brought to where He wants us.

At the age of 65 J.S. Bach was having problems with his eyes. After having surgery on them from a physician known, later, to be a “quack”, he died from complications from that surgery. What a sad ending to a truly remarkable life. But Bach graciously received that which he had written and sung about for a lifetime! May our lives reflect that grace, love, and joy in Christ in whatever vocation the Savior gives us. Amen.


Have you ever been betrayed? Not just disliked by someone or having someone ignore you because of your faith. The dictionary defines the word “betray” as: “to break faith with. To lead astray.”

I, recently, had someone close to me who betrayed me. (NO.....it was not a physical family member!  ) He was “closer than a brother” to me because we shared the same faith, fought the same battles, defended each other, prayed for each other, and wept when the other was sad or hurting. He helped Patty (my wife) and me through several really tough times and I looked up to him as a sparkling example of true Christianity…..until he “stabbed me in the back”.

As a really important topic came up within our church association, he vociferously and fervently defended my spiritual point of view. I was so very proud of him! Within a month, however, for whatever reason, he called to tell me I was “wrong” and that he had “decided that the other side was correct.” No Scripture references were given and one, skewed reference to 16th-century writing was offered that, for the life of me, I could not see as pertinent! I felt betrayed. That betrayal came to a head as two out of three vocations of mine, one by one, were taken from me.

Stunned, I confronted him but amongst others he was quiet and in private he continued to “dig in” with rationalization; all to my heartache. I felt like a family member had died. (I’ve seen quite a few passes away at this point in my life, BTW.)

Could Jesus understand what I was going through? The word “betray” and derivations of it, are used 46 times in the Bible! The Savior knew what betrayal was like. Judas, who walked with Him, talked with Him, stood up for Him, etc., sold out his friendship with Christ for 30 pieces of silver to the Jews. Judas even led the way to the Garden of Gethsemane, identifying the Lord for the soldiers with a kiss! It must have really hurt. Jesus can relate when those whom we love and trust betray us. But His love was so strong that He died for Judas, too, and for all those who “broke faith” with us.

So, when we are betrayed, like Jesus, we can cry and pray and try to get the betrayer to “see the light”. I remember one member of a church of mine who convinced me that “all was right” in his marriage. It was not. On the side he was having sex with another woman; eventually moving in with her. I confronted him and he said some pretty bad things. Years later he called me; saying, “I’m so sorry for betraying you pastor. Can you forgive me?” I assured him I could and Jesus did. The Redeemer is our constant source of faithfulness and truth. He is the Rock to which we try to bring our betrayers back in this life. May God continue to grant it, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Is the War Winding Down?

Although I never, as a rule, watch the news, yesterday I noticed that the war in Afghanistan is “winding down”. Being the longest war our country has ever fought in, my question was: Who won? Sounds like a “draw”. Thousands of lives were taken; both civilian and military. Since I am not a military strategist, I do not know the reason for extending it beyond punishing those who instigated terrorist acts. In my case, “ignorance is bliss”. I always support the military. They are doing what they are ordered to do to protect us. But for those who were marred for life and for those families who will have to suffer for a lifetime, “bliss” is not in the picture.

Wars are always fought for the same reasons: greed and power. Even those professing to be Christians have started wars; supposedly, for the sake of the Church. Right…..Hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of those who butchered bodies “in Jesus’ Name”. Terrible and a horrible witness for the true faith, especially in light of Jesus’ words, “Love your enemies.” – Luke 6: 27).

While we must, at times, physically protect ourselves and our country, physical wars must NEVER, ever, be fought to protect God’s truth or His Church. Our struggle is not with governments. They are ALL established by God (Romans 13:1). Our battle is spiritual and with the unbelieving world, our sinful nature and the Devil himself. Saint Paul said, “Fight the good fight of faith” ( 1 Timothy 6: 12)…..”of faith”.

Since faith is “knowing, accepting and trusting” God, we need to prepare for “battle” every day. That is why military troops practice mentally and physically. We, as Christians, need to put on the “armor” of the Lord daily, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6: 12) “Therefore”, Paul says, “take up the whole armor of God; the truth of His Word, His righteousness, His peace in Christ, the gift of faith, the blessing of salvation and the use of His “sword” (God’s Word) (see Ephesians 6: 14-17). Get to know God’s Word better, accept what He promises and trust, ever more deeply in His grace. Why? Because our “war” is not “winding down”. It is increasing. But we know the final outcome for all of God’s children:

Eternal bliss in Heaven with our Savior and all the saints. Victory is already yours and mine in Christ. Let us continue to “fight the good fight” until He calls us Home. Amen. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Pastor William C. Mack
Christ the Rock Lutheran Church


Well, it is definitely summertime in California! The apricot tree in our
yard bore plentifully already. Our plum tree is in “high gear” with its
sumptuous fruit and the peach tree is bowed down with over a hundred
peaches! Yummm!

Veggie-wise, we’ve already started plucking tomatoes from our plants
and the bell peppers are growing daily. They should be ready in a couple of
weeks. Yes, the harvest of the fruit has begun!

On the spiritual front, we have seen growth, too. Our little, humble
“flock” of 17 members continues to meet online and, in person, quarterly, in
the clubhouse where we live. We have grown from when Patty and I first
got here, 12 years ago; when we were only 12 members. Trials and
tribulations, deaths, and Covid affected our growth but God has always
blessed us. We are averaging 20 souls every Sunday for worship! The
“fruit” is there, even as we see souls outside of our parish eager to study
the Word of God.

Does God promise that because we are faithful in planting seeds or
trees that we will have fruit or veggies to put on the table? No, of course
not. Oppressive heat, viruses, bugs, caterpillars, vermin, etc., all combine
to stop us from harvesting our “bounty”. Patty and I are vigilant in watering,
fertilizing, trimming, and spraying (organic spray, of course) but, even so,
we have lost a few pieces of fruit to opossums. But the battle continues
until the harvest is over.

In the same way, the Church must continue on with the Truth of
God’s Word. The Lord does NOT promise that, because we are faithful, we
will reap a “harvest” of souls. No. In fact, Jesus said, regarding the last
days, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith
on the earth?” (Luke 18: 8) The spiritual “bugs and vermin” will continue to
plague our little “flock” but by God’s grace we will continue to pour out the
“water of life”, fertilize with the nutrition of the Gospel, and squash
(spiritually) the enemies of the “holy, Christian Church” as they assault the
Bod of Christ.

May God bless us abundantly at Christ the Rock Lutheran Church with
many more souls who are seeking the Truth. But more importantly, may
we feast on the truth of His Word daily; most importantly glorifying Him
Who sewed His “seed” of grace into our hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!


On the Christian calendar, today (June 28) is the day we celebrate the accomplishments of a bishop of the early (180 A.D.) Church, Irenaeus. He lived in Lyons, France, and argued that his conception of orthodox Christianity was passed down to him from the apostles who knew Jesus personally, while the Gnostics and Marcionites of his time were distorting this apostolic tradition.

While the Gnostics offered salvation through secret knowledge available only to a few, Irenaeus contended that the true doctrines of the Christian faith were the same taught by bishops in different areas. While many of the Gnostics viewed the material world as flawed and from which believers sought to escape to an eternal realm of spirit, Irenaeus saw creation as good and ultimately destined for glorification. He referred to I Corinthians 15:50 quite often, which says, “I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” I John 3:2 says, “When He is revealed, we shall be like Him.”…..He, Jesus, rose physically from the grave. (John 20: 27). We shall rise, physically, to be with Him.

Irenaeus also polemicized against  Marcion of Sinope, who preached that the creator God of the Hebrew Bible and the Father of Jesus Christ were two different gods. Irenaeus argued that the same God who sent Jesus to the Earth also led man through history by way of the Jewish law and prophets. Marcion forgot the verse where Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30).

Irenaeus went on to be the “champion of Christian orthodoxy” in the 2nd century; defending the doctrine of the Trinity without rival. Pray that God would send another “champion” to the Church today! With so many supposedly “Christian” churches denying or ignoring the Trinity we need more warriors for the faith; those who would uphold the true teachings of Holy Scripture! While Jesus does say that in the latter day's men would, overall, deny the faith, (Matthew 24:22)(cf. I Timothy 4:1), pray that workers would be sent to the “holy, Christian Church” to uphold the souls of those who desire to be faithful. Irenaeus had a difficult time with various heretics. We do too. But the love of Christ continues to draw us to profess the Truth of God’s Word in its purity until He comes again. May His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness fill
us for this task. For we ask it in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wedding Month

June is known as the “wedding month” for many. I was blessed to marry my wife on June 23; 48 years ago! Wow! It seems like only yesterday……Right……πŸ™„

Marriage is a blessing from God. Sometimes it doesn’t SEEM that way! Why? Because even Christian couples have a sinful nature; one they have to deal with every day. Arguments, disagreements, dashed hopes, and hurt feelings are found even in those homes which profess to be following Christ. Whereas, at last count, non-Christian marriages end in divorce 55% of the time, those who are church-going believers “only” divorce 45% of the time. Not a great “witness” to the world to be sure.

But on top of having a sinful nature, Christians have to deal with the world; unbelievers. Whereas, 200 years ago, that group was held “at bay” by the refusal of spouses to allow unChristian talk and ideas into the home. Today, however, horrible thoughts, evil words, and unspeakable deeds are not only invading the home, they are actually invited in! How? Through the T.V., D.V.D.s, computer and other types of media. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of good stuff found on all of those but the percentage of demonic garbage is growing…..every year. And Christian marriages are suffering more and more.

The devil, too, will constantly try to affect those who profess Jesus as their Savior. His best offensive weapon is convincing people that he is NOT real; that a disturbing mindset is psychologically “off” because of a chemical imbalance. That may be TRUE! But sometimes it is not. Demonic possession is real….and can enter believing households if not repelled. 

Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19: 6). Let the wife subject herself to her Christian husband, as Paul says, (Ephesians 5: 22-24) and let the husband sacrifice himself for her (Ephesians 5: 25- 31); as Christ did the Church. That mindset of sacrificial love constrains the heart to put the other person first and to keep spiritual ideals first in life (Matthew 6: 33). This is an “alien” mindset to most people today; worldwide.

But if I am going to make it to 49 years of marriage with the girl I’m presently married to, I know that to keep Christ as the center of our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives is the key. It has “worked” so far…..I guess I’ll give it another 48 years and reevaluate……😊 God’s plan is always the best. Blessings to all, in Him Who saved us eternally.

Pastor William C. Mack

Flag Day

Today is “Flag Day”. σΎ“¦ 'The flag of the United States of America often referred to as the American flag or the U.S. flag, is the national flag of the United States. It consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton (referred to specifically as the "union") bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows, where rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternate with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the United States of America, and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and became the first states in the U.S. Nicknames for the flag include the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, and the Star-Spangled Banner.' (Wikipedia)

On December 3, 1775, our country decided to have its own flag; the “Grand Union flag”. It evolved into a 13-star version on June 14, 1777, and eventually, the current 50-star version was adopted. (Wikipedia)

So….what has this to do with the “holy, Christian Church; the communion of saints”? The Cross, like our flag, is a symbol. As we are commanded by Scripture to be subject “to the governing authorities”, (Romans 13:1) we do so (as far as our faith allows us); proudly serving our closest physical neighbors and blessing those far away. The symbol of the American flag reminds us of the incredible liberty we have and of the many, many men and women who sacrificed themselves or were killed (unwillingly) so that we might have “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

The Cross reminds us, too, of our liberty and freedom from sin, death, and the power of the Devil; properties that are spiritual and eternal. The American flag represents something that is none of those but something that no other nation on earth can proclaim; a republic free of government interference with personal life…..to a lesser extent today, but still a “republic”.

While our flag is under attack both within and without our country today, we serve as patriots gladly; knowing that it was God Himself who created our nation and allowed our ancestors to come here to both give and to proclaim the greatest truth mankind has ever known; the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So let us proudly and LOUDLY sing, “O say can you see by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous night, o’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming. And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof to the night that our FLAG was still there! O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free….and the home of the brave?” Yes, praise God it does! πŸ˜ In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Memorial Day

Today is “Memorial Day”; a time when we reflect on those who died and who were wounded in combat while fighting for our country. We, also, think about those who served and who left the armed service unscathed; yet who fought bravely to assure that our nation would remain free.

My father lied about his age and entered the second world war at the age of 16! He was no coward! He served on a destroyer escort and saw some of the most ferocious sea battles of that conflict; even getting two purple hearts in the process!

Historians go back and forth with their opinions on whether the wars we fought in were justified or not. In my era, the validity of the Vietnam War was hotly contested; so much so that my own decorated father refused to allow me to get into it; even tearing up my enlistment papers!

And as we go back through the history of our nation, war after the war was fought, both on our country’s land and off it, taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men and women. Was it worth it? As we look out today we see that we are definitely the freest nation in the world. Our republic, though tottering at this point due to Socialism, still stands as “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. People can still express themselves in any way they desire (as long as they do no physical harm to another). Amazing.

But the taking, and giving, of lives in war means nothing to God as far as being justified before Him. Don’t get me wrong. We truly are thankful for those deaths but only those works done by believers shall be a “memorial” before Him on the Last Day. The “good” works (as seen by society) are actually stained by sin (Isaiah 64:6). The works done by Christians, seen by God as good, are actually done by the Holy Spirit Himself in the believer (Philippians 2: 13).

God has used the greed and hate of men (the cause of wars) to bring the Good News to untold thousands. The native Indians of North America had never heard of the triune God until Christians came from Europe to claim their “wild land”. The natives of Africa only heard of the Good News after traders realized that gold and ivory abounded there! In the meantime, the Lord has blessed us here, in the United States, with a republic that guarantees the Church religious freedom. So, on this Memorial Day we are thankful that through all the intentions of men, both godly and evil, we are still free. “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Yes, indeed….In Jesus’ Name, Amen. πŸ˜Š

Pastor William C. Mack

Holy Trinity Sunday

This Sunday is “Holy Trinity Sunday”. On that day churches throughout the world confess their faith in the words of the Athanasian Creed. Normally, at least in Lutheran churches, the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed is professed. But on this one Sunday a year, the point to say this particular profession of faith is emphasized. Why?

Because as soon as the early 4th century, the spiritual poison had entered the mainstream of the Christian church! The biggest threat was Arianism; the denial of the Trinity. Athanasius, a champion of the Nicene Creed, fought hard against the Arians who, like the Jehovah's Witnesses today, deny the reality of a triune god. In reality, too, the Mormons do the same; saying that the Holy Spirit is not a person but the “power of God” and that Jesus, though God “now”, is not eternal God. They believe that Jesus, supposedly, “made it to god-hood” (like all Mormon males believe they will also do one day”). Wow…..

While the exact authorship of the Athanasian Creed is not known, we give credit to Athanasius for its formulation because he was such a strong warrior for the teaching of the Trinity and the Nicene Creed.

The life of Athanasius, itself, is one to be admired and modeled after as his life showed great heroism, fortitude, and faith. Through all the controversies he battled through, he was banished five times and spent twenty years in exile; never renouncing the true faith.

Statements from the Athanasian Creed like: “Whoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic (i.e., universal, Christian) faith.” are “bizarre” to most churches today. The teaching of Universalism is rampant throughout the visible church. This teaches that the triune God is “one of many ways to enter Heaven”. This, of course, flies in the face of the First Commandment (“I am the Lord your God. You shall have NO other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20: 2-3) and the words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6). Universalism is paganism “clothed” in Christianity.

So, like Athanasius, we “fight the good fight” with the Gospel “armor” God gave us (Ephesians 6: 13-17); knowing that the true God has saved us through the Cross of His Son and believing that God, the Holy Spirit, will continue to work stronger and stronger faith in our hearts through His Word and the Sacraments. His love draws us to confess with all our hearts the words of the Apostle’s, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds because they are formulated from the Holy Scriptures. This we believe, teach and confess to His glory! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!!
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