Good work

Holy God,
through the good work of Jesus Christ You have sent me on a good mission for Your glory,
works prepared by Your good, mighty and holy hands.
Help me to see the good work You have for me
and may I never take credit for any good work I do.
It is all for Your glory,
as any good work I do is empowered by You.
Oh God,
thank you for beginning in me this good work,
as I long to bring it to completion.
Until then,
help me by Your Spirit.
In Jesus good name I pray,
Amen.

Come

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)

Father God,
Expectations, to-do lists, physical limitations, selfish desires competing with godly desires –
they, and so much more, all weigh me down.
They all weary my soul.
Thus,
I lay them down before You in the name of Jesus. Take it all, O God, take it all.
Release me
Free me
Unburden me
Send me out unfettered. Let nothing weigh me down. Let nothing hold me back. Let nothing get in the way. Let nothing stop me from giving You the glory that You deserve and desire.
Oh God, I come to You and You alone.
In the name of Jesus I pray,
Amen!

Yes, Jesus Died For You, O Sinner

The following is my article that was published in The News Tribune (Tacoma) yesterday (Easter Sunday). To God be the glory!


He has RISEN! He has RISEN indeed! ALLELUIA!

Yes, Jesus has risen, and he reigns on high with the Father. Jesus, though crucified, rose and defeated death and thus gave all believers the hope of the resurrection to eternal life. And Jesus did this because you needed to be reconciled to the Father.

From the prophet Isaiah, the 53rd chapter…
Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—everyone—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

This prophecy from Isaiah, written about 700 years before Jesus, foretells Jesus’ death and resurrection for sinners. Jesus was pierced. Jesus was crushed. Jesus died as God laid upon him the iniquity of us all. Yes, you are a sinner. Like sheep, you have and continue to go astray. Like sheep, when given the chance, you turn to your own way. And, like sheep, you are defenseless against the wolf – Satan.

You may think you are fine. You may think you are faithful. You may even think that at the very least you are not as bad as some other people out there. This Easter thing is just a tradition you do that includes the pastor preaching the same ole message about Jesus rising from the grave. But let me tell you something – there is much more to Easter than that. In fact, you are worse than you think. I love the quote from one of my favorite pastor/theologians – Charles Spurgeon – that says, “If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be.”

Peter thought he was a faithful follower of Jesus and would even die for him. But of course, Jesus knew better. From Mark 14:27-31…
And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

The fact was, Peter was not faithful. He denied Jesus three times as Jesus said. And neither are you faithful. You deny/sin at least three times before the rooster crows. Yes, you. You are a sinner, but praise be to God, that Jesus is faithful and that YES, he even died and rose for you. No amount of sin will ever drive Jesus away from you. And so, say it with me: Jesus is RISEN! He has RISEN indeed — for me. ALLELUIA and Amen!

In the Moment

Below is my article for The News Tribune (Tacoma) that was published today. To God be the glory!


Are you one of those people who live in the moment, or are you one who worries about what is/may be coming down the road? I often find myself looking ahead much of the time. As a pastor, I am trying to be in the moment during this busy Lenten season, but I also find myself living in Holy Week and Easter, which is still a couple weeks away. Sure, we have to plan for the future, but there is a fine line between planning for the future and living in a future moment; worrying about what may or may not happen. During this pandemic – O great, there he goes talking about this pandemic again – sorry, I am not trying to beat a dead horse here. I really do have a point. During this pandemic I found myself living in the future a lot of the time, looking forward to a time when I did not have to worry about getting sick or someone else getting sick. I mean, seriously, will that time ever come? If that be the case, I would be living in a fantasy world, wasting these current moments.

So this morning while driving to my office the song, Keep Me in the Moment, by Jeremy Camp was playing on my radio. It is a song I have heard dozens of times, but it affected differently today. Here is the chorus that captured my attention:

Singing oh Lord, keep me in the moment
Help me live with my eyes wide open
‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me
Singing oh Lord, show me what matters
Throw away what I’m chasing after
‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me

It is here in this moment that God is working in your life. God knows all of your tomorrows and thus all of those tomorrows are firmly in His hands. It is not for you to obsess about those moments, but rather to trust and follow where God is leading in this moment. Matthew 6:33-34 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Isn’t it a relief that you do not have to live in a future moment, trying to protect a desired outcome? Your desired future moment may just be a fantasy; thus if you obsess about it, you will miss real life ministry that needs to be done in this moment. But with our sovereign God, you can leave all your moments in His mighty hands. And with those moments being in His hands you are free to “live with your eyes wide open”, not missing what God is doing in the here and now to bring you to HIS desired moment.

And so I pray: O Lord, keep me in the moment. Help me live with my eyes wide open. Help me to see you in the here and now that I may glorify You in this moment. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Prayer ~ My Hope

O Lord, as the hymn goes,
My hope is built on nothing less,
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
.”
And that is a hope that is rock solid.
Nothing can stand against.
Nothing can take that away.
Nothing can rise higher.
Nothing can ever replace…
…at least that is my prayer.
May I not be seduced by the fear of this world.
May I not be distracted by political ideologies.
May I not be lured away by the fast talk of elected leaders.
May I not be enticed to satisfy the perceived wants of man.
O God, Father Almighty,
May I stand,
Always,
On the rock solid promises of Jesus.
May I cling to Your love which clings to me.
May I bask in Your peace which washes over me.
May I embrace the hope of the resurrection to
Eternal life
in YOUR kingdom.
This kingdom is fading away,
But,
Yours, O God, never will.
Yes, O God,
My hope is built on nothing less,
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

And therefore,
May my hope in and through Jesus resonate loudly for all to hear.
In Jesus’ holy and righteous name I pray,
Amen.

Beginning My Day

I start my day in a particular way:
I grab my coffee.
I begin to pray.
I read my Bible,
and seek Your way.
To begin my day in another way,
Is sure to bring me much dismay.
I seek Your Spirit,
To quiet mine,
To focus my heart
on love divine.
No other way can give me peace.
No, not even the news
of a “Well written” piece.
I need your Word to jump start me,
For in only You can I find true glee.
And so,
I will start my day in this particular way,
And seek Your face,
All
The live long day.

Faithful God

Below is the article I submitted for publication at The News Tribune (Tacoma) for Sunday. To God be the glory!


Do you remember what life was like one year ago today? Businesses were open at full capacity. Students were learning in a physical classroom and not through a computer screen. We did not have to decide which face mask to wear today. Socially distancing from people was considered rude. Grandpa and grandma did not have to be isolated from the world. The toilet paper aisle in the grocery store was always fully stocked. And the word “pandemic” was associated with the Spanish Flu of 1918.

Just think, a year ago today we knew little about COVID-19 except that there something was out there making people sick. There were no pandemic restrictions and life was moving along smoothly. But within a couple weeks, everything changed as life seemed to come to a screeching halt. We may never be the same again, but maybe that is okay. Maybe things needed to change. But whatever the case, one thing is certain, God has been and always will be faithful.

As I look back on this past year, I see a God who continued to provide for His Church. I see a Church that adapted to circumstances, took advantages of opportunities, and continued to be the Church. I see a Church that was never shut down despite the narrative that the world tells. I see a God who has made us stronger. Many of you have been drawn closer to our Father in heaven. Many of you have developed a deeper faith in Him. Some have drifted away. Some are angry or questioning God. And many are even mocking Christians for continuing to cling to God amid this pandemic.

Yes, life has changed; it has changed a lot of things and people. Just like how 9/11 changed air travel forever, the COVID-19 pandemic will change how we interact with people and/or how we deal with the next virus that comes along. But never forget, through it all, God has been glorified, but that still does not mean we quit praying. Pray, pray, and pray some more that this pandemic ends. But more than that, pray, pray, and pray some more that people come to know God through Jesus Christ. That is why we are here and that is why God has been faithful. Nothing can stop God from advancing His will and purposes. Nothing can shut down the Church. Nothing can destroy the Body of Christ.

One year ago life was different, but that can be said about any time in history. Therefore we take the good with the bad and continue to praise God for His faithfulness. Hang in there! This world is indeed coming to an end, but God’s Kingdom lasts forever. Cling to the truth, that promise, that certainty. And in one year, let’s chat about this again and see where we are. To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.

Morning Prayer ~ Turning My Eyes

Father God,
I turn my eyes upon You this morning;
seeking You.
I long to see Your face that I may not sin –
defiling this temple,
this jar of clay.
I long to know You better that I may not stray –
seeking after other gods,
placing my hope in them.
I long to be held by You and feel Your embrace –
knowing I am secure,
being at total peace.

O God,
Surround me.
Hem me in.
Guard me.
Protect me.
The Evil One seeks my demise and I am weary of fighting.
Fight for me.
Strike him with a devastating blow.
Glorify Your name in victory.

O God,
I praise You that the ultimate battle has been won –
the battle over sin and death,
the battle for me.
I praise You that Jesus is Lord, my Savior –
that he took my sins to the grave
and You forgive me.
I praise You that through him I will wear the crown of life.
O God,
You are mighty –
mighty in love,
might in mercy,
mighty to save.

Father God,
I turn my eyes to You this morning
and always.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

Worship Prayers ~ Your Perfect Word

Holy God,
Your Word is mighty to save.
Your Word never fails.
Your Word is powerful;
it kills and it gives New Life.
O God,
Your Word is perfect and alive and thus there is nothing we can do to improve it.
Yet,
many try.
They tinker and distort the Word;
making it something that it is not.
They turn it into a lifeless word;
useless for salvation.
O God,
may we as a Church be faithful with the Word;
proclaiming it in all its truth and purity.
May we always take heart and trust the power of Your Word;
rejoicing in the fact that the results of the Word are squarely in
Your mighty hands,
because it is about
Your glory.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen

Worship Prayers ~ Those Who Are Homeless

As temperatures dip and snow falls,
I remember before You,
O God,
those who have no homes –
Precious ones of Your creation who are forced to scramble to find shelter and warmth.
O God, have mercy.
Send resources and people into their lives.
But,
may weather not be the only reason I remember those who are homeless,
rather,
may they always be on my heart,
leading me to search for ways to show mercy and compassion
in practical ways.
May I never turn a blind eye or a deaf ear.
May I never dismiss them as someone else’s problem.
May I never judge them as lazy, irresponsible or as troublemakers.
O God,
transform my heart that I may have a heart for
PEOPLE,
who happen to find themselves homeless.
Transform my heart to love and care
for Your children.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.