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.

No Matter What, God Reigns

Today, is August 4, and this nation is mourning after two deadly shooting sprees in the last days or so. Many are shaking their fists at heaven wondering where is God; and thus turning to worldly leaders for answers and action. But no matter the situation, God reigns. I have no explanation for this shooting sprees, I just know my God who holds my life in His hands and thus my hope is in Him. My prayer is that others come to know Him through Jesus Christ as well.

So with that in mind, I wrote the following Holy Communion liturgy for this morning. Let pray together, and instead of finger pointing, let’s raise all our fingers to God in praise and worship for being rich towards Him in Jesus Christ.

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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, Father and Creator. We look around and grieve the violence and hatred. We listen to our neighbors and hear hate-filled words, fear and hopelessness. We live in a sin-fallen world that looks to worldly gods and leaders for their peace and security, but You reign, and thus we give You praise. Through Jesus Christ You and You alone have overcome this world. You have defeated sin, Satan and hate. No amount of violence can stop Your will from being done. No amount of rhetoric can bury Your Words of Life. No amount of riches can compare to You, for through Christ we are rich beyond our wildest dreams and imagination. And thus, as children in Your family; sheep of Your flock we have no fear in this world, for You and You alone reign. And therefore, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we join in singing Your unending praise…

Prayer for the Unborn

This prayer comes from a grieving heart. There’s more that can be prayed and more that should be prayed and more that should/needs to be done, but this is a start. Let us not forget the innocent and may we never cease to fight…

Holy God,
Author of life,
Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of life;
You are Holy and Awesome,
and greatly to be worshiped.

Oh God,
I am grieved,
as I reflect and mourn the slaughter of the innocent.
How can this be?
How can anyone conceive of such an evil?
How can anyone savagely kill?
I am grieved and horrified.
Oh God, help us…

May we remember the unborn;
precious children known, woven together and formed by You.
It pains me, oh God, that many take these children for granted;
saying they don’t matter.
Some contend that they have no rights;
that life is something that is in the hands of man.
But You are clear in scripture that life is of You;
that You know us from the moment of conception;
and that life is precious to You.
Oh God, may You convict such people,
who think and believe otherwise,
and lead them to repentance.

For the women who feel that their only choice is to end the life of their child, please reveal to them the preciousness of the one they carry.
Help them to see that all life is valuable,
and if they aren’t called to parent their child,
lead them to adoption resources
so another couple may parent this precious life.
Oh God, have mercy and reveal Yourself.

For those who choose silence over action;
give them a voice.
Give them courage and boldness.
Raise up in them a holy desire to speak and make noise.
Lead them via Your Holy Spirit and proclaim Your love.
Guide them in ways of justice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

For those who feel helpless;
overwhelm them with Your presence.
Overwhelm them, so much so, that they may not feel alone.
May they know You as their Fortress,
and thus not be afraid;
choosing action over silence and complacency;
choosing life over death.

And finally,
Father God,
if I may be permitted to speak just one more time on this matter:
Have mercy on this land;
a country that slaughters the innocent.
But if it is Your judgment to punish this land,
(and I could hardly blame You),
I beg that You may save the faithful remnant as You did Lot and his family, but not before You give people one more chance to repent.

Have mercy, oh God, and heal this land.
May we not sacrifice our children on the altar of Satan.
May we not take them for granted.
May we see life precious and valuable.
May we stop the slaughter of the innocent.
May the little ones be allowed to live.
May we choose action over complacency.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

Share and pass this on as you feel so move. To God be the glory.

The Pastor -|—

Jesus, You Alone

Jesus,
you alone sacrificed EVERYTHING
that I could have everything I need.

Jesus,
you alone are the “something” to believe in
for you alone are my EVERYTHING.

Cross

Jesus,
you alone knows what it means to lose everything
as you hung on the cross crying out,
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Jesus,
you alone are deserving of everything I am
for you alone are worthy of everything.

Jesus,
this country sets up idols on lofty thrones,
not knowing from whence comes true hope.

Oh Lord Jesus,
help me to speak into such madness and foolishness,
not to put people down but to raise them up;
not that I can boast but that You are glorified.

Jesus,
you are my everything.

The Pastor -|—

Everything

I’ve been reflecting on Nike’s new ad campaign that features embattled (former) NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who infamously started the “kneeing for the national anthem” movement. The campaign features a black and white close-up of his face with the words…

Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything

A couple thoughts come to mind:
(1) Kaepernick has NOT sacrificed “everything”. He still sits on a nice little nest egg and is receiving national attention. The only thing he has sacrificed is playing in the NFL, and if that is “everything” then he truly has nothing.
(2) Jesus sacrificed EVERYTHING that we could have ETERNAL LIFE, which is everything we need.
(3) When you only believe in “something” you have nothing. When you believe in someone, namely Jesus, then you have everything.
(4) When you truly sacrifice “everything” for Jesus, you have lost nothing.
(5) Our brave men and women serving in the armed forces have sacrificed far more than Kaepernick will ever know.

With that being said…

I am in no way attacking what Colin Kaepernick is claiming he is protesting. I am in no way advocating some boycott of Nike like some are doing. But this believe in something/sacrificing everything crap that Nike is dishing out has rubbed me the wrong way. It has also saddened me and stirred something up in me. If people don’t get that Jesus sacrificed everything that, through faith in him, you can have eternal life, then I need to step things up more.

So here you go…

PEOPLE: You are SINNERS. You are under God’s WRATH. But wait, there is hope…JESUS. He died FOR YOU and rose from the grave FOR YOU, that you could have ETERNAL LIFE. Believe not in something, but believe in someone…JESUS.

There you go…

To God be the glory!

The Pastor -|—

Concerned

I am concerned.

I am concerned that people would rather draw battle lines
rather than come together.
I am concerned that people would rather fire shots across the bow
rather than lay down arms.
I am concerned that people would rather strive for the last word
rather than listen to words.
I am concerned that people would rather craft hated-filled words for others
rather than truly listen and consider the impact of their own words.
I am concerned that people would rather hide behind social media posts
rather than honestly listen and talk with one another.
I am concerned that people would rather create sides/parties
rather than strive for unity.

I am concerned.

I am concerned that people aren’t running to God.
I am concerned that people aren’t dropping to their knees in prayer.
I am concerned that the blame-game doesn’t included one’s own actions.
I am concerned that it is always someone else’s fault.
I am concerned that this country is in a win-lose internal battle.
I am concerned that this nation is turning to other gods for help.

I am concerned.

But I am also hopeful,
because Jesus reigns and always will,
God is still God,
and the Holy Spirit is still active;
and therefore I will pray for this country.
I will pray for it’s leaders,
I will pray for it’s citizens,
I will pray for it’s success,
that God may be glorified.

Be concerned, but be hopeful.
God has already won.

The Pastor -|—

Men, Enough is Enough

The following is my latest article in the Tacoma News Tribune, published on Saturday, Nov 18…

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:27]

Please indulge me as I go on a little rant. Ever since accusations of sexual misconduct began to surface involving Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, accusations from various other women have surfaced left and right. You can’t login onto social media or turn on the news without hearing about someone else coming forward. Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming these women, but rather I am embarrassed for men in general. This is not right and we, men, need to step up and do something. We need to say something and raise the bar for the next generation. There is something definitely missing in people to cause them to think that it is okay to treat people as just sexual objects to satisfy one’s own desires. I am not saying I am a model man; “Look at me and see perfection”, but something needs to change in this culture. Something has to give.

Treating people as something less than what God created them to be is a sin. God created men AND women in His own image; both equally precious in His sight. Men and women are both equally loved and loveable. They are created for a purpose but not for the purpose of being abused or harassed or treated as an object. I imagine God, the Father, being saddened to see His daughters (women) treated like this. For men to treat women like an object is to disobey the creational purpose of God. God created men and women and then brought them together in marriage. Through marriage, God is putting the relationship of Christ (bridegroom) and the Church (bride) on display. Ephesians 5 says, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Sexual abuse and harassment of women is so contrary to God’s purpose for men and women. Godly men ought to be angered and offended to see and hear other men acting so immature and irresponsibly. Godly men need to stand up and say, “No more!” Godly men need to be shaken to the core and be determined, more than ever, to be godly examples to our sons and to the rest of this world. Godly men need to teach our daughters what it looks like to be treated with respect. Godly men need to take the reins and write a new narrative for our culture; that harassment and abuse of women is no longer welcomed. Men, let’s be the men God created us to be and glorify God through our example. Let’s take back our godly roles.

Rant done. All praise be to God. Amen.

The (feisty) Pastor -|—