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Daylight Savings

“Daylight savings time” is this Sunday (03/14/21). But what, exactly, is it? (Besides being a pain in the neck!)  “Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight.”

Horrendously, people even “get heart attacks” over this procedure because they “forgot to turn the clocks back!”; hence they are late for church, missed a favorite TV show, etc. It was, originally, meant to help the agricultural business but some, like myself, find it to be irksome (at the least). Some areas in the county (ex.- AZ) don’t observe it at all!

Time, however, is a most precious commodity. Some of the most popular movies produced dealt with “going back in time”. I think we all wish we could “do (something) over again”; regretting that we didn’t make better use of a situation. I, for one, wish I had never, ever eaten candy! Digestive problems in my earlier youth and (too) many cavities created frequent remorse over my foolishness.

What have we done with OUR time on earth? Have we made use of it to the very best of our abilities, as Christians, or have we slacked off and served ourselves, primarily? Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”…(Matthew 6:33) “First”, not “only”….” first”; that is, God’s business is to be primary in our every thought, word, and deed. “Yeah, good luck with THAT one, pastor!”, you might say. True, it is impossible, but God’s law is there to show us our sin (Romans 3:20).  

In this time of Lent, we give thanks to God because Jesus came to “make better use of (time)” than we ever could! 😊 If we had a “time machine” we would drive ourselves crazy trying to “right the wrongs” we’ve done along the way. Praise God Jesus came and used His time on earth perfectly; living for our credit and dying to wash away our foolish use of the time given to us on earth. Instead of frantically trying to “go back into time” we only need to go to the Hill of Calvary in the Bible and see there our Savior spending His last moments in pain and death for our salvation.

Check out the book of Revelation and see that, in time, you and I and all believers will spend eternity with our best Friend, with all of God’s family, and with perpetual love and joy. The “clock has been set”. He has prepared us with His grace.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Spring is Coming

Wow! February is gone already! Is it me or did this past month go by really fast? For those experiencing traumatic weather, like in Texas, maybe it did not go by as fast as they would have liked! But with only 28 days in February (the shortest month), we see the “beginning of the end”….of winter.

Life is like February; it is short, full of surprises, and makes one “strain” to see better times; hoping for a better life ahead. I guess one could say that February is the “month of discontentment”; it is not “fully” winter and it “teases” that Spring is coming…..soon…..real soon….but not soon enough.

As I look at my 69 years of life, I cannot believe (first of all) that I am that old! And I, like you, have experienced many traumas in life; the loss of loved ones, moving from a culture I knew well (in New Jersey) to one that was alien to me…..Wyoming, etc.  

And as God moves us, or keeps us in the same place, we see that life moves faster than we would like. Starting at conception, we “march forward” to the day that we shall die. Through it all, we are frequently surprised but let us admit it, most of the time we “gripe”. Our hard work has not paid off as well as we would have hoped. That “home in the Bahamas” did not quite work out. The perfect body we had at 21 is now in decline….in more than ONE place! The hard-earned cash that we had stored up will not allow us to live QUITE as comfortably as we had hoped. We ask ourselves, “Why?” Foolish greed, laziness, and nonsensical living are part of it. But even the hard-working, frugal Christian can become disappointed (to say the least!) as he approaches the “Golden Years”. There is always more desired, and the sinful flesh will never be content. No perfection on earth.

Thank the Lord that Jesus left Heaven to live on earth. Talk about disappointment! Men hated Him, cursed Him, and crucified Him. But it was all for us; so that we could see that “Spring (Heaven) was coming.” Through the “tunnel of trials” in this life, we see the “light” of Promise; the Truth that, in the end, we shall enter into eternal life. Of that, we are divinely assured.

This life, in comparison to eternity, is short….extremely short! And as we take our last breath on this earth let us remember His promise to you and me: “He that believes and is baptized SHALL be saved.” (Mark 16:16), and “Whosoever believes in Me shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). “Spring” (Heaven) is coming, brethren! “It is written”…..Amen. 😊

Pastor Bill Mack

Snowmageddon

This past week has been a “blur” as I ran back and forth to the T.V. and to my office; hoping to catch a glimpse of “hope” for my daughter and her family, and (ironically) my visiting son’s situation in Texas. The unexpected snow and ice storms, extremely low temperatures, combined with the complete loss of electricity, heat, water, and “facility” use had the state in emotional shock. Fortunately, they have electricity now, the stores are starting to open up but, at this juncture, the water situation is not good. God willing, the water will flow once again and “peace” will reign, as it did before, “deep in the heart of Texas." Meanwhile, my daughter, grandson, and son took a respite, via a business opportunity, to fly to Miami for relief. A girl can only last so long without a shower! (I’m told) God provides, once again.

We have been so abundantly blessed in our country. When unusual occurrences “slam” into our daily lives we, too, are often shocked! It is so easy to forget what kind of world we live in; one plagued by sin, death, and the power of the Devil. Nature has been corrupted by Adam and Eve’s transgression but we, in this country, expect “Paradise”, too often. People living in countries where extreme temperatures occur on a seasonal basis, like Greenland, Africa, etc., expect to be “uncomfortable” during certain times. But Americans, by and large, demand to be “comfy” 24-7-365; hence, we prepare (as best we can) furnaces, air conditioners, inside plumbing, refrigerators, etc. But God has a tendency to “wake us up” once in a while; reminding us that this is NOT “Paradise” and that we had better be prepared for our “final journey”; one ending in flames and pain or the other option of being in perpetual peace and enjoyment.

In this time of Lent, we remember that Jesus left His perfect Home to experience the suffering of life, the pain of the Cross, and the horrors of death and Hell for us. His humiliation has guaranteed us a place where there will NEVER be snowstorms, ice storms, thirst, or pain. May His life of suffering encourage us to “weather” all storms in His love for us. Heaven awaits. That is His divine promise.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Rev. William C. Mack

Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 14, is Valentine’s Day! We suddenly see all of the red cards, bows, and roses flowing into the stores and, those of us who are married, are constrained, once again, to find the (expected) card and a small gift to remind our spouse that we love them. The greeting card industry “makes out like a bandit”! But why DO we celebrate this day? I tell my wife, at least once a day, that I “love” her. Why do we need a day to point out the obvious spousal, etc., “love”? “It’s a racket!”, we hear.



Like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween, the world has “kidnapped” Christian celebrations. Santa, the Easter bunny, and scary costumes have defined what once were sincere expressions of Christian faith. So, what is “Valentine’s Day” truly about, then, pastor?”

Glad you asked! (Not that you have a choice in my blog!) Ha ha….

Valentinus was a Christian clergyman who served in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, in the 3rd century A.D. Claudius felt constrained to persecute the Christian church. Remember, the Roman emperors declared themselves to be “gods”. While most, according to history, did not believe it, having a literal army to back up your claim really helped “persuade” opinions! And when the Christians professed the 1st Commandment and, “worse” yet, said that the way to eternal Paradise was by God’s GRACE through faith in Christ, the emperor “flipped out”! Christians were crucified, thrown to the lions for entertainment, burned alive at orgies, etc. Most of those persecuted were outspoken believers. Those who chose to remain in Rome suffered quietly; in their homes. But not Valentinus….

He was outspoken against the emperor’s edict that “no young men should be married” (because he felt they could fight better, not having “attachments” at home). Claudius’ son, Claudius II, carried through with the same edict. So “Pastor Valentinus” married couple after couple in Christ. He, eventually, was arrested and brutally executed. All for the sake of his Christian witness for the Biblical truth of marriage.

Claudius, by the way, died at the young age (in MY book!) of 44 years old; poisoned by a friend. Tough way to go. Few remember Claudius but people world-wide celebrate “Valentine’s Day”. But let us remember that he was a martyr for the faith; one who was willing, by the grace of God, to suffer death rather than recant the blessed, holy Word of Truth. So….get out there and buy that card (!!!), flowers, candy, (whatever….) but be sure, most importantly, to hold in your heart the TRUE meaning of this day. May the love of Christ constrain you, and me, to be like Valentinus; faithful to God’s Word. May we be so to His glory.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  
 

The Presentation of our Lord

The “Presentation of our Lord” is celebrated in Ephiphany.



It is when Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple. Why? Galatians 4:4 tells us that “God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” Every male, on the eighth day after his birth, had to be circumcised. (Genesis 17: 21-24). By that rite the child was made a member of God’s covenant people; a “sacrament” of the Old Testament. By doing so, the child was obligated to be faithful to the writings of Moses and the Prophets.

Jesus, then, was “born under the Law”. His responsibility was to be perfect before His Father. And indeed He was! He “had no sin” (I John 3:5). His life went even further; redeeming others who were “under the law, that (they) might receive the full rights of sons”. (Galatians 4:5).

Our Savior was circumcised, at home, and His faithful family went to the Temple to celebrate that sacrament with the prescribed sacrifices (Leviticus 12: 6-8). A simple man, not a “priest”, not a “rabbi”….just a man named Simeon who was “righteous and devout” (Luke 2:25); “looking for the Consolation of Israel”. Upon seeing the baby Jesus, he took him in his arms and declared the words we, as Lutherans, know so well; the “Nunc Dimittis” (“Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace…..”).

Anna, too, a “prophetess”, spoke at that time “of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38).

When we were baptized (I was, as an infant in Philadelphia, PA) we, too, were brought to our God; “putting on Christ” (Gal. 3: 27). Undoubtedly, no “renowned” pastor or priest baptized us; just a faithful “man of the cloth”. But the “comfort”, the “Consolation” before God, we needed was found….in Him our Redeemer. Unfortunately, I quickly fell away from the faith…. but by the grace of God I was restored to my baptismal faith at the age of 19……not by a famous preacher or clergyman; by a faithful witness of a simple woman in Christ.

Jesus fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17) for us; blessing us with His grace and forgiveness through Baptism and the proclamation of the Gospel. May we, like Simeon and Anna, look for opportunities to do the same! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Pro-Life Sunday

Yesterday was “National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday”, or “Pro-life Sunday” (as we used to call it).



Is it me or is it weird that we have to point out that human life is “sacred”? When something is not sacred, we use it for whatever means we see fit, trample on it, spit on it, say nasty things about it, etc. Why the necessity to point out to the world that human life is sacred?

Because infants in the womb, the elderly, and the severely ill “get in our way” and remind us that this life on earth is temporary. We want to have all the “fun” we can have before we “bailout” of existence. Babies, both born and unborn, demand our attention and force us to make commitments we would not otherwise make. The elderly frustrate us and test our patience (not to mention our checkbooks). The terminally ill drain our economy. Such is the mentality of the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

Traditional Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all have (historically) condemned abortion and have revered their elderly. (Approaching 70 years old, I appreciate that mindset….. 😊 ) But man is fickle and the sinful nature is strong! But God has said in His Word that He Himself made us (Job 33:4, Psalm 139:14), hence taking a human life in the womb is “murder” (Exodus 20: 13). The same reverence for the lives of the elderly and ill are made in Holy Writ.

Life, both physical and spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:44, John 6:63) is a gift from God. We are here to protect and nurture it. As zealous as we may be to “save the whales” (etc.) let us save the even more (Luke 12:7) important human children; both born and unborn. Let us bring them to the saving waters of Holy Baptism (1 Peter 3:21) and protect the frail; both elderly and ill; bringing them the blessed message of Christ crucified and risen for them.

As John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb ( Luke1: 41- 44) may we, too, “leap for joy” knowing our Creator Who sent His Son to ransom us eternally and to give us days to live even before we came to be (Psalm 139: 16). May the light of His grace empower us to do all these things, to His glory, in Jesus' Name! Amen!

Death

“Death” seems to be a topic that people are avoiding these days. We, hourly, hear of the spread of Covid-19 and can view the “tide” of the disease, country by country, state by state. The “death toll” is there for us to see but no comfort is forthcoming. Occasionally an elderly person will be shown on the media as “overcoming” it….but the death rate continues.

Actually, none of us is “going to get out of here alive”, as they say. The “death ratio” is still one-on-one. It will always be that way until Jesus comes again.

But why is that? Because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Every man, woman, and child is a sinner and shall die…..Notice I said “shall” die, not “will” die. We do not “want” to die (for various reasons) but the divine truth is that we shall…..every one of us.  No emotional objection, devotion to health, or religious fervor will permit us to avoid death. Period.

God has drawn a “line” for our length of days (Job 14:5) When it is our “time” (Ecclesiastes 7:17) we “shall” die.  We can “shorten” our “gift of life” by suicide or foolish/dangerous living, but even good stewardship of our bodies has a “limit”. Embrace it. Believe it.

Thank God He has given us life; physical, spiritual, and eternal. We, as Christians, look at life as an opportunity to serve the Lord via our family, our work, our church, etc. He blesses us according to His will and promises us that we have been forgiven; possessing real, spiritual life (John 1: 4, 5:21) and eternal life (John 3:16, 3:36). Trust His promises and know that even if Covid-19, a bus, or cancer takes your life, you are in the Savior’s arms. He is with you “always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) His “peace” (John 14:27) will be with you eternally; by His grace through faith. You, and I, are headed to a place where there is nothing but joy, love, and divine blessing. (Revelation 7: 15-17) May those truths fill your hearts as death approaches, for with it comes the opening of the gates of Heaven! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

What is the role of a Christian under his government?

What is the role of a Christian under his government? And why does God permit things to happen to the Church by that government?



Good questions, right? “Government”, by definition, is “the exercise of authority over a state, district, organization, institution, etc.. A system of ruling, controlling, etc..” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary). Man, by nature, desires to “rule” over others. Why? There is within us a need to have ordered; via the Law of God in the conscience. That is a good thing. Family “order” became tribal order which, as the earth’s population grew, became geographical control (states/provinces), kingdom-rule and countries governed by chiefs, princes, pharaohs, kings, etc.. Man governed by his conscience (often “muddied) and by the “sword”. The believer in the triune God was directed and ruled by the immediate voice or printed word of God; hence, Adam, Abraham, Moses, the prophets, etc.. The Scripture of the New Testament forbids us, now, (Revelation 22: 18-19) to add to the voice of God. He has spoken all that He wants to say until His 2nd coming. So are we to just follow any, and all, governmental mandate as Christians? Saint Paul wrote, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” (Roman 13: 1-2). Saint Peter wrote, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts. 5: 29) Moses, most of the prophets, Saint Paul, and Saint Peter all lived under pagan rulers! We may, then, not like what a government demands but unless it directly, and clearly, contradicts God’s Word we must obey its rules. God uses even pagan governments to chastise the Church! Do we need “chastisement”? The (visible) Church today has all but abandoned the morality and guidance of Scripture. It is the Last Days. If chastisement comes, may the “light” of His Word guide and fill us with divine peace in Christ until we are taken Home to Heaven where no further chastisement is needed. May His will be done, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Epiphany

January 06 marks the beginning of the season of “Epiphany”; characterized by the coming of the “wise men”. It is also known as the “Gentile’s Christmas”. Overall, it is a time of realization that God has manifested Himself…..to the world.



So, with the beginning of the “wise men” (Gentiles) how does God “manifest” Himself to us today? A recent clergyman opened Congress praying to “Brahma…or any other manifestation of God.” Our political and religious leaders, by far, say that God manifests Himself through any, and all, deities worshipped in the world. Isn’t that “nice”? It DOES make us feel good. It gives us the “right” to ignore that “complex book” (Bible) and “give life our best shot” (morally); “hoping for the best”. (And we wonder why we, as a nation, are so afraid of dying…..) The First Commandment, however, narrows divine truth down to ONE God; the triune God.

In it, He says that all who die in their sin without faith in Him are going to eternal Hell (John 3: 16-19). “Wow, Pastor Mack! Did you not have enough roughage in your diet yesterday?! That is kind of harsh!” Do a Bible study on “Hell” and “everlasting punishment” (ex.- Matthew 25:46). Reality is a real eye-opener!

Fortunately (here comes the Gospel!) God gave the Jews (first) and then the whole world baptism and the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus’ birth, suffering, death, and resurrection. Baptism would be the main avenue of bringing salvation to millions of souls! (1 Peter 3:21) As souls were “buried with Christ” (Romans 6:3) and “clothed” with Him (Galatians 3:27) they saw, by faith, their Savior; manifested to them by His grace alone through the waters of Baptism and proclamation of the Gospel. May we become “wise men” this season and embrace the importance of the Christ Child to our hearts through these means of grace to His glory! For we ask it, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Happy New Year!



“Happy new year!”, we said to numerous people a year ago. But, overall, 2020 was filled with unhappiness! Covid-19 took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, worldwide. Wars continued. Earthquakes decimated cities. False prophets abounded as never before. Personal trials and tribulations never stopped….One would think that it was the “End times”! Oh….wait…it is! “You mean Jesus is coming back?”. Of course! “When?” Who knows!? But as we enter another new year we look back and see that mankind has not changed at all! The birth of Christ in a manger means even less today, to people, than it did 365 days ago. How do we know this? Church attendance (before the “Covid pandemic”) continued to drop. Crime rose worldwide; showing people’s lack of love for one another. Immorality (homosexuality) was officially condoned by the largest (professing) Christian body in the world! (Roman Catholic Church). Polygamy was officially condoned in Utah for the first time since the mid-19th century. Let me just say “etc”., because you know how bad it is “out there”.

So how can we honestly say “Happy new year” and look forward to 2021? The “12 days of Christmas” leads to Epiphany (which means “manifestation”). With the birth of the Savior, we are assured that He desires to “manifest”, or show Himself, to us ever more deeply. As we daily remember the blessings of our baptism and study His Word we “see” with ever-increasing clarity His love for us in Christ. “Happiness” that is eternal flows to us through the means of grace and we find that comfort and peace that no one else can give us. “Blessed is he whose sins are forgiven.”, indeed.

2021 may bring unexpected troubles but the peace of God “which passes all understanding” shall guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. HAPPY new year, my friends!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
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