Pray, Pray and Pray Some More

The following is my final article for The News Tribune as today is my final Sunday at Living Word Lutheran Church. On Sunday, August 29, I begin my new (3rd) call at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Buffalo Center, IA. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these article over the years. My hope is that I will have an opportunity to continue writing articles for the local paper there. Either way, I will still be here. And so here you go…to God be the glory, always.


In my five years serving as the pastor at Living Word Lutheran Church, one of my favorite taglines has been, “Pray, pray and pray some more”. This is not just a take off from 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 where the Apostle Paul encourages us to Pray without ceasing. Yes, it definitely inspired this tagline but there is more to it. Far too often, prayer is only something people resort to when all else fails. Life is falling apart, a big decision looms and you do not know what to do, you have lost your job and wondering how to make ends meet, a cancer diagnosis has turned your life upside down. Whatever the case, prayer is that “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” lifeline. You call up God, give Him the situation and look for the million-dollar answer to make everything better. But that is not what prayer is all about. It is not about making your life better now.

Prayer is a relationship. It is not phoning a friend, but intimacy with the Creator. It is a relationship with your heavenly Father. It is curling up in the loving arms of your Good Shepherd. Prayer is not about changing God but rather being changed by God. Prayer is a way of life, not a portion of your life that you do in the morning, evening, at meals and sometimes throughout the day when “needed”. Prayer is not just simply listening and talking to God, but just being with the Father and living a life worthy of your calling – your calling to be a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Prayer is done in all circumstances, in all times, in all places and in all stations of life. Pray, pray and pray some more, and when you have done that, pray. Live in fellowship with God with your eyes firmly fixed on His will, His purposes and His glory. Pray, pray and pray some more, seeking to know Him better. Pray, pray and pray some more, not for comfort in this life, but because of the hope you have been given for eternal peace with the Father. Pray, pray and pray some more, knowing that I will be praying right along with you and for you.

Today, marks my final article for The News Tribune and my final Sunday as pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church. I will begin serving my new call in northern Iowa on August 29. But these articles will not end. There are many talented and godly people at Living Word who are ready to pick up the mantle, thus these articles on the 1st and 3rd Sundays will continue. It has been a joy to write these articles over the years and I will miss them – I will miss you, even though I never met many of you. But know this, no matter where I am, I will be praying, praying and praying some more, with you to the glory of God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord. Take care, my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Until we meet again, Amen.

So You Are

A mother cradling her newborn baby.
A hen spreading her wings over her brood.
A father’s provision for his family.
A king’s army guarding the city wall.

So You are to me,
O God.
So You are to me.
For,

Without You I am vulnerable and dead,
But in Jesus I am victorious.
Without faith You are hidden and ordinary,
But in Jesus You are glorious.
My Life.
My love.
My everything.

A rock solid foundation.
A fiercely strong and mighty warrior.
A tender hand and warm embrace
A grace-filled and merciful Lord.

So You are to me,
O God.
So You are to me.

Thoughts and Ways

The following is my second to last article for The News Tribune (Tacoma). My final article is due to be published on August 1 – my final Sunday at Living Word. It has been a joy to write these articles over the years. A big THANK YOU to The News Tribune for publishing these articles. I hope continue writing articles after I get settled in my new call in Buffalo Center, Iowa. I begin serving there on August 29. To God be the glory – always. Amen.


We have an awesome, incredible, loving, and gracious God. He is mighty to save. He is abundant in mercy. He is faithful to never, ever turn His back on us. Though we may not understand or enjoy the circumstances, God is in complete control. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” But I still wish I understood better God’s thoughts and ways because it gets frustrating when things do not go my way.


I never would have planned these past few weeks. My family and I were supposed to go to the Midwest and vacation with family over the July 4th holiday. This is an annual event to which we look forward, but unfortunate circumstances in my life changed those thoughts and ways. I will save you all the details lest I take glory away from God. Suffice it to say, it was an injury that required surgery, but I am doing well now. We had planned our way and were thinking thoughts, but all of that got thrown up in the air and scattered in the wind. There was much lamenting and even a few tears over why this was happening. I even had a couple dark moments when I felt utterly alone and abandoned. I began to relate to the psalmist at times as he lamented and wondered where God was. But as I wrote earlier, God was and is faithful to never, ever turn His back on His children. God never abandoned me.


In the grand scheme of things, my pain and discomfort really was and is not that bad, especially when I think of what others are going through. But I like my ways and thoughts and thus when they get disrupted, I whine. But I praise God that He is faithful. Though I may whine at times, God is still there to remind me that He has a bigger picture in mind. I still do not understand why my circumstances happened, but I know a bigger “why” that leads me to worship this faithful, grace-filled, loving God. I am a sinner, but Jesus died on the cross that I could be forgiven and thus have eternal life with God. The “why” of everything – God is merciful and full of grace and love.


My thoughts and ways are of this world, but God’s thoughts and ways are much bigger. Though things get tough now, God is walking you through them and will never let you go. Though things are confusing, God knows exactly where you are going. Though you disagree with God’s ways and thoughts, trust that, in all His sovereignty, God’s plan is perfect and God’s purpose in your life is holy. Therefore always remember, we have an awesome, incredible, loving, and gracious God. He is mighty to save. He is abundant in mercy. He is faithful to never, ever turn His back on you. Amen.

Without Ceasing

Holy God,
my prayer rises to You in the morning,
and at the noontide.
My prayer rises to you in the evening,
and as my eyes close to hide.
I can come to You in any moment.
though I am thoroughly unclean.
I need to come you in Jesus,
for my sin is not unseen.

You have commanded me to pray without ceasing,
You have commanded me to run to You.
You have commanded me raise my petitions.
All glory to you is due.

And You command me so because,
well,
You love me.
You want fellowship with me.
You want me to draw closer to You.
You desire me – a sinner.

Through Jesus I am forgiven.
Through Jesus I am Yours.
Through Jesus I have hope.
Through Jesus Your love ensures.

Father Almighty and Holy God,
draw me closer for I want more of
You.
In Jesus holy and awesome name I pray –
continually,
Amen.

I Am Yours

I am Yours and not my own.
I am Yours and not alone.
I am Yours and not exposed.
I am Yours and not opposed.

I belong to You,
A tender, little child.
I belong to You,
On me You have smiled.
The world trips me up,
Trying to hold me back.
But I am Yours,
Thus they'll always attack.

But I shall not fear,
Nor will I fret,
For I am Yours,
thus I am set.

I am Yours and not my own.
I am Yours and fully known.
Through Jesus Christ Your dear Son,
I am Yours and I have won.

Air

As air fills the earth,
so Your love surrounds me.
Never a moment passes that I am devoid of it.
It gives me life and sustains -
     remove it and I die.
Every waking and sleeping moment -
     I am surrounded.
It fills me.
I do not have to seek it.
     It seeks me.
Never can I hide from it,
     for it is relentless.
Never does it run out,
     for it is abundant.
You are the air I breathe.
You are the life I live.
You surround me - 
     with love.
O God,
in Jesus' awesome name,
     I praise You.

[Breathe]

Psalm 23 Haiku

The psalmist beautifully depicts the life of sheep, and I can relate. I am a sheep going through a dark valley, with Satan working overtime, but I’m not alone. Two very close prayer warriors/friends reminded me of that truth recently.


Sheep in a valley.
A wolf’s hungry eyes craving.
Smack! The Shepherd’s staff.


1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

[Psalm 23:1‭-‬6 ESV]

Good News Haiku

R.C Sproul has said, “The gospel is only good news when we understand the bad news.”
What does this mean? Great question, I am so glad you asked. Here’s another Haiku for you.


Newborn baby bird
To the ground fast – plummeting.
Hopeless? No! Jesus.


Who, in your sphere of influence, needs to hear the Good News? Make sure you explain the “bad news” first and then — Give them Jesus.

Prayer in Weakness

Whatever weakness or vulnerability you are facing, may You know the grace and love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. He will never leave you nor will He desert you, leaving you to deal with your affliction alone. He is faithful and will be your strength. Praise Him in the storm. Praise Him always and forever. Praise Him. Let us pray…

Oh God,
I feel weak and vulnerable, frail and helpless. My strength has been melted away. But, You never promised the easy way in this life, but Jesus did promise to be with us to the very end of the age.
Oh my God,
sustain me in that promise.
For that promise, in the midst of affliction and weakness, is what gives me strength and hope. It cheers my heart when I am down and lifts me up when it feels I am at rock bottom.

May I not forget Your faithfulness.

Though my body feels frail, you are my strength.
Though I feel vulnerable, You are my Helper.
Though I feel useless, Your Spirit still works through me.
Though I feel pain, You are my Comforter.
Though I feel hopeless at times, You never desert me.
Though I feel overwhelmed, You are in complete control.

Oh God, my Father, Sustainer, Good Shepherd, Sovereign God, Lord and my Rock,
I praise You in the storm.
Though the waves are crashing into my boat,
You hold me tight
and will not let me be swept away.
Though the winds are blowing hard against me,
You hold me firm
and have placed me upon the Rock.
And so I beseech You,
Oh my God,
bind Satan that he may not drive me to despair.
Cast him away that my strength is not in fighting him,
but rather,
spent glorifying You,
knowing that my strength is from You.
And so,
as I sit here,
may You be glorified despite and though my weakness,
for You are worthy,
and my Good God almighty.
It is in Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

Various Haikus

The following are four Haikus (Haiku styled at least) that I have been working on. They are all very different and may not follow the ancient, traditional rules. I included a short intro to each one, but hopefully not too much lest I rob your imagination. Call these contemporary Haikus if you like. Whatever the case, from my heart to you.


The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in NW Washington is a favorite memory of my family:
It’s festival time
A landscape once colorless –
Bursts into rainbows.

I posted this faith-filled Haiku the other day but this one has been updated:
Once captive in sin.
Jesus was crucified – dead…
LIFE!!! Now I’m redeemed.

My kids love going to the park. Me? I love taking them and just sitting there watching and listening. I try not to occupy myself too much, lest I miss out:
Children. Laughter. Joy.
A playground of adventures.
Look! A pirate ship!

I recently suffered an injury that tested me but showed me something of myself and my God:
Into dark darkness –
Painful cries received by none.
HE embraces me.