The Call

Holy Father,
through Jesus Christ,
You call us to follow and to make disciples
despite the fact that we are sinners;
unqualified.
But You qualify the unqualified;
sending us out to do important work;
announcing that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Oh God,
may we remember
that it’s not about our abilities or knowledge
but rather about Your Spirit giving us what we need.
May we never disqualify ourselves
but rather trust in You,
who qualifies the unqualified,
and that all quality is of Your doing.
And through the quality of Your work in and through us,
may the quantity grow to Your glory.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Qualified

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
[Matthew 4:18-20]

Think about it for a second (or two), Jesus called a group of unqualified men to follow him and be the beginning of the Church. No small task, so one would think Jesus would look for only the best. But Jesus doesn’t ask for a resume or a list of references. He doesn’t quiz them to check their knowledge of scripture. He doesn’t inquire about any advanced degrees. Jesus simply approaches these men and says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men“. Their only qualification was their un-qualification. JESUS made them qualified to be fishers of men. It wasn’t about oratory skills or knowledge or street smarts or financial savvy. It was only about Jesus. He called, they followed and once Jesus died and rose, the Holy Spirit guided them into all Truth.

And so think about it again. If Jesus can use a group of unqualified men to continue a movement of sorts, don’t you think that Jesus can do something amazing through you. Never think that you are unqualified to follow Jesus or be a leader in the church. If you are called, then you are qualified. Just trust in him and follow.

Awesome God,
You called a group of unqualified fishermen
to walk with Jesus
and to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
As Your Spirit led those first disciples
may Your Spirit lead us now in serving You in this world.
May we not bow to the temptation
that we are not good enough
but rather trust in You
that we may give glory to Your holy name.
May we leap out in faith when Jesus calls,
and may we go with the strength and courage of the Holy Spirit.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

True Delight

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
[Psalm 1:1-2]

Previously I wrote about the church keeping it’s focus and not getting distracted with a worldly gospel that has politics at it’s core. It’s a gospel that is ramping up more and more as we approach Inauguration Day. The rhetoric is aimed at pitting two sides against one another; not leading towards unity but rather a “war” of sorts. I am seeing Christians and Christian leaders posting articles and updates that have a hate-filled taste to them. It bothers me. I try to avoid such things but it’s all over the place. I see the posts and quickly gloss over them; trying not to get drawn into the fray. And believe me it is tempting. So in response I am trying to focus on taking delight in God through Jesus Christ and letting THE Gospel shed light in the darkness. It’s only through Jesus that we will find hope. It is only through love that we can battle hate. So excuse me as I go and delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it…

All praise be to God our Father through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen

The Pastor -|—

What Gospel are you Preaching?

Hey there Church…

We are not to ignore the world but neither are we to conform to it. (Romans 12:1-2)
We are to pray for our leaders. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
We are not forbidden from serving in public office but rather we are to serve Chirst in the vocation to which we are called.
We are to submit to our government authorities. (Romans 13:1-7)
Our government does not bear the sword in vain. (Romans 13:4)

…but I am concerned about something. What Gospel are you preaching? I am seeing way too many Christians on social media too focused on politics and politicians. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am not trying to pass judgment but rather wondering.
~ Is this really our call as Christians?
~ Is political rhetoric going to save souls?
~ Is complaining about politicians going to give people hope?
~ Is bashing our government going to encourage people?

I am not throwing my support behind any political party here but rather I want the Church to focus. There are greater issues in the world than who’s boycotting what political party or who is in office. Don’t ignore politics but also don’t make politics the Gospel you preach. The Gospel is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, that we may have the hope of everlasting life. That should be our core message and that is what people should be hearing from the Church. I know I need to hear that on a daily basis.

Let’s keep our eye on the ball and remember what our mission is. Jesus saves not politics.

The Pastor -|—

Being a Christian

As a Christian there are three important implications of claiming Jesus as your Lord and Savior. These are implications that I am thinking about for the sermon tomorrow. If you want to hear more then you still have time to travel to Puyallup, WA to hear more or you can just listen to the sermon on the church’s website after the fact at:

www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com

In the mean time, here’s a little teaser for you…

(1) We are to identify with sinners; as the sinners we are. We need to identify with the hopeless, the lost, the hungry, the wayward, the misguided, idolaters, etc. It is only through this identification that we can proclaim the Gospel to them without judgment.

(2) Creating disciples should be our primary focus. Not only does Jesus give us this command at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, but it should be a no-brainer. If you have been transformed by the power of the proclaimed Word then why not also proclaim that same proclaimed Word in Jesus Christ. And when you create a disciple, don’t just let them go like a wind-up toy. Follow up with them and encourage them, lest they go astray.

(3) Be Gospel people. Live the life of a follower of Jesus in deed AND word knowing that people WILL be offended; for the Gospel indeed offends. And when it offends someone (and it will) remember that the Gospel kills (and people generally hate that) but it also raise to New Life. So be persistent. They need you.

There you go. Pretty easy, right? No, but by the grace of God will people come to know God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. Be a Christian, not just act like one.

The Pastor -|—

Desires

There’s a Bible camp song that I remember singing that goes something like this:

Lord You are, more precious than silver.
Lord You are, more costly than gold.
Lord you are, are more beautiful than diamonds.
And nothing I desire compares to You.

I never really understood these words then; either as a young camper or as a young, immature camp counselor. We sang the words and for me they flew over my head. But now I read these words and I pray that they are true in my life now. I know there are times that I desire other things over God. There are times I desire other activities other than praying or reading scripture. There are possessions that I have that I value more than God. I reflect on this and I am ashamed. I guess it is therapeutic to write (and read) these words and think about such desires. It forces me reevaluate things and thus realign my desires, because, really, there is nothing more costly, precious or beautiful than God. If you truly think about it you have to agree with me. If you can’t, then you don’t know God through Jesus Christ. And so…

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
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 inquire in his temple.
[Psalm 27:4]

Oh God, may I know You better that my desire be for You and for You alone. May I seek Your face. May I desire Your presence. Oh God, You are more precious, costly and beautiful than anything. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Loud Living

He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
Isaiah 42:2-3 (ESV)

There are too many “loud voices” and not enough, down to earth, humble servants who are willing to bring healing through sacrificial living. I listen to these “celebrity” pastors and wonder sometimes if all they do is stand in front of people talking and talking and then go home and hide until it is time to stand in front of people again and talk some more. Do they bring healing to the “bruised reed” and fan the faintly burning wick of faith and hope in people? Do they just hide behind their words?

Jesus never sought the spotlight. Jesus never put out a press release. Jesus never stood in the town square yelling and screaming in order to get people’s attention. People heard about his love and compassion and they came running. Jesus’ reputation for loving the sinner and outcast spoke volumes to people. It wasn’t his loud voice that brought people running it was his “loud” actions.

As a Church we need to “quiet down” sometimes and get our hands dirty. We need to be people of action not just talk. Loud voices will get people’s attention, but humble service, authentic love and genuine compassion will keep people close. And when people are close they see the love of God through Jesus Christ.

We don’t need to yell and scream to bring people in; we need to live lives of love and compassion that shouts hope and peace in the name of Jesus Christ.

People of God, let’s live loud.

The Pastor -|—