Carrots

I am tired of the world’s empty promises,
for it cares nothing for me.
It promises satisfaction.
It promises fulfillment.
It dangles its promises before me as a carrot before a horse,
and I can never quite obtain it,
always falling short –
lacking,
hungry,
unfulfilled.
But You have promised me Your heart, oh God.
No empty promise.
No dangling carrot,
rather You lovingly feed me the carrot and I am filled.
Now it’s You I long for,
but You long for me more.
I desire You,
but You desire me more.
I strive to know You,
but You know me –
more.
And yet, You still feed me carrots?
No strings attached?
No empty promises?
I am fulfilled.
Oh God, please feed me more
carrots.

Band-aids and Tumors

The following is an article I wrote for The News Tribune (TNT) of Tacoma for Saturday, August 17. I submit articles for their church page each 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. This one was inspired by the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. We have a serious issue in this country and world, but it is not what many are talking about.

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With my kids getting older and more active they are collecting more and more skinned knees, cuts and scrapes. When injuries occur, we give them the necessary TLC and, of course, a band-aid. It makes no difference if there is bleeding or not, they want a band-aid. It’s amazing really, the power of the band-aid. As soon as it is applied, something magical seemingly happens. The tears begin to stop, and they are ready to go back to their previous activity. Obviously, I would never use this treatment on a more severe injury such as a broken bone. That requires more intensive intervention and professional help. To slap a band-aid on a serious issue is short-sighted and irresponsible. If only the world would take this truth to heart.

Recently, this county has mourned, yet again, more mass shootings. Both horrific events that have affected the lives of many for years to come. But along with these tragic events comes political grand-standing, finger-pointing and empty promises that have no hope of healing the problem. Just peruse social media after such an event and you will quickly see and read the rhetoric. It is sickening and sad to see how people don’t understand what the deeper, more severe issue really is. Simply applying a band-aid won’t help, yet that is what continues to be suggested, even demanded. Now before you think that I am going on a political gun control rant, allow me to put you at ease.

I don’t discuss politics.

The issue we are facing with this country is not a simple knee scrape that can be healed with Neosporin and a band-aid. What we are facing is a fast-growing tumor that needs professional help. Guns are not the issue but rather the heart. We are sinners and thus if you take the guns away, sinners will just find other ways to mass kill people. The band-aids that politicians are suggesting will only make them look good for a short time, but then other band-aids will need to be applied, after more finger pointing and blaming. It is a never-ending, vicious cycle.

So, what’s the solution, pastor?
Great question, thanks for asking.

The solution is Jesus. It begins with the Church faithfully preaching the Word of God instead of the social justice garbage that many proclaim as gospel truth. It begins in the home with mom’s and dad’s providing a loving, stable and safe environment for their kids; not allowing video games and the media to serve as their nanny. It begins with leaders rallying people together to heal, dialog and seek the will of God, rather than fighting and finger-pointing their way to prominence.

People, we have a vicious tumor. And if we don’t deal with it, it will eat us alive. We need to put away the band-aids and seek Jesus, the Great Physician. We need to come together instead of building walls. We need to humble ourselves and toss away our agendas. The only hope that we have is Jesus. Period. Seek him and find healing. Amen.

Bringing Peace Through Division

The Gospel text for today is Luke 12:49-56. My focus is on verse 51 where Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace but division. Actually, Jesus came to bring peace through division. More can be heard on our congregation’s website after the video of the sermon is posted.

So with that I wrote the following Holy Communion liturgy with the Gospel text in mind. To God be the glory. Amen.

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It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God. Through Jesus Christ You give us peace with You. Through the working of Your Holy Spirit we are being remade. Your Word is life. Your Word is truth. Your Word pierces our soul and will one day divide us from this world as we stand before you purified and holy. Oh God, may we not be seduced by the allure of worldly peace. May it’s beckoning song be ignored. May its deceptive appearance be uncovered. Oh God, we give you thanks that Jesus was born to die that we could have hope and one day live peacefully with You without interruption. And so, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

Praying the Psalms ~ Psalm 119:81-88

These verses in Psalm 119 really struck home for me. The psalmist is pleading for help to remain true to God’s law and not be seduced away. There are many people twisting scripture to their own advantage. There are many pressuring the Church to become more “relevant” and thus the temptation to seek peace with the world. May I stand firm on the Truth of scripture as challenges come from all sides. God help me.

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It’s You that I long for, oh God.
It’s in You that I place my life.
But the world persecutes me, God,
And thus I have nothing but strife.

When will You come to my defense?
When will Your Spirit comfort me?
How long must I endure attacks?
Oh God, it’s You I long to see.

False teachers teach their own message,
And in Your Word they do not stay.
They preach a word that’s not from You,
So keep me true that I won’t stray.

They fight and shout and long to stop,
Your Word of hope – Your Word that saves.
But it’s Your love that gives me life,
So may I stand and be so brave.

When the world fights hard against me,
You’re my salvation and my shield.
It matters not what they can do.
My life is Your’s so I won’t yield.

The Doxology

As the Lord’s Prayer ends, we are taught to say “Amen”. Amen means, yes, it shall be so. When asked by the disciples about how to pray, Jesus said, When you pray, say… He gave us the words and thus it makes sense that God is pleased with the words we pray. It is like a teacher giving you the answers to the quiz. It behooves you to use them. Here, in this prayer, we can be confident that we will get that for which we pray. So when you pray, say with confidence: Amen!

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How should I pray?
You have given us the words;
words pleasing to You,
so we know we’ll be heard.

For You’re our Father,
Holy are You.
Your kingdom is coming.
Your glory is due.

And what do you want?
Our hearts to believe;
Satan’s schemes to be defeated;
Your Word to be received.

You’re the Great Provider.
The Forgiver of my sins.
May I forgive others,
and when tempted may I win.

And now I have the words,
to lay at Your feet,
pleasing to Your ears,
perfect and complete.

Yours is the kingdom,
the power and the glory.
Yes, it shall be so,
for I am in Your story.

Writing Poetry

To write poetry draws me deeper into the Word or closer to whatever I am writing about. It challenges me to think more deeply and to reflect more clearly. Words matter. Nothing is simply random. And so I praise my God for inflaming the heart of this pastor to draw closer to Him in such a way.

With that being said, I am working on two more poems. One is based on Psalm 119:81-88 and the second one is the final installment in the Lord’s Prayer poem series, “The Doxology”. I look forward to sharing these with you soon. May these poems, written to the glory of God, also draw you closer to our Father as they have drawn me.

A Teacher’s Heart

As a parent of two school-aged children, my thoughts these days are for the many teachers who are either starting classes or are preparing to receive students in the coming weeks. I could not do the job they do and thus I am thankful God raises up people who have a heart for teaching. A teacher is a one-of-a-kind. They show love, commitment, and dedication that few can understand. They have a heart for children as they, mold, shape and nurture the hearts of our precious little ones. They endure stress, judgment and criticism, often from those who do not understand. I can’t imagine what it takes to be a teacher, but God knows. Would you join me in praying for teachers, staff and administration, as this new school year begins. It is to them that I dedicate this poem.

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A teacher’s heart is special and dear.
And to my child it’s always near.
Love and sacrifice and caring too.
A teacher’s heart will always come through.

It is unique for it’s Your design.
All it’s qualities You did assign.
I can’t imagine a heart without,
A grace that runs all the way throughout.

Oh God would You bless our teacher’s hearts.
And from them would You never depart.
Keep them and hold them close to Your side.
And may Your Spirit in them abide.