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 -|—

Weeping to Strength

I look out into the world,
and I weep over what I see;
for I see a people lost;
as sheep without a shepherd.
I weep and wish people would turn and look;
seeing a loving Savior;
reaching out to them.

Oh, how I wish people would see Jesus.
Oh, how I wish people would see their destructive path.
Oh, how I wish people would repent and live.

But all I see is a world spiraling out of control;
a world racing toward a cliff;
a world hell-bent on destroying themselves.

Why, oh God, why?
Why can’t people see?
Why don’t people know?

And as I weep I also fear.
I fear for my own children.
I fear for my family.
I fear for how I will respond.

Will I be strong?

Oh God, Creator of heaven and earth,
grant me Your Spirit that I may be strong.
May I stand firm and rely on the armor
that only You can give.
Grant me, oh God,
the belt of truth,
 the breastplate of righteousness,
the readiness given by the gospel of peace, 
the shield of faith,
(with which I can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one),
the helmet of salvation,
 and the sword of the Spirit,
(which is the word of God).
May this armor be my strength.

But one last thing,
oh God,
may I not be passive,
but rather may I go forth into battle with your armor.
May I brandish the sword of the Spirit
with all love and grace.
And in the end, may You be glorified.

Be my strength and hope.
Be my peace and salvation.

Oh God, You reign forever and ever,
through Jesus Christ my Lord I pray,

The Pastor -|—

Holy Parenting (Ephesians 6:4)


I claim no expertise in parenting but rather, I claim a strong desire and passion to raise my children to know and love God through Jesus Christ. And that is why I am so drawn to the above verse. I am constantly thinking about ways to be a good example but also thinking about what my children are seeing in me. Children are going to learn about God from their parents. Hopefully they learn a lot at Sunday school and Bible camp and vacation Bible school, but children will learn about loving and living with God by watching their parents.

So parents be mindful.

But not just parents. Church, be mindful. The children are watching you too. Whether you have children or not, they are watching you. When you are in worship; children are watching you. When you are interacting with others; children are watching you. Whether you like it or not you are being recorded by a child’s built in video camera in their brains, so be mindful.

But one of the biggest misconceptions in parenting is that as parents we need to be their child’s “best friend”. Children don’t need that. They have plenty of people to be best friends with. According to scripture, children need parents that will discipline them and teach them to know the Lord.

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24 ESV)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t share this verse in order to advocate beating your child. This verse is about a parent’s God-given responsibility to discipline a child when they go astray. How a child is to be disciplined is something for another blog post. But here, parents are not called to be best friends. Parents are called to raise their children to walk the narrow path; disciplining their children out of love not anger.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

And a parent may actually do this but see their child stray from the faith. If this happens, be patient, you have planted a seed. So don’t lose heart. Keep training them in the way they should go. How this training goes will vary from parent to parent but the common thread is, don’t be their best friend, be a faithful example of the Christian life. Love your children but even more than that, love God.

I have said this a number of times but it bears repeating:
The best thing a parent can do for their child(ren) is to love God more than them.

That right there says a lot. Love God above all things and all people and as a parent, you will do fine 🙂

Father God, parenting is hard work. Grant Your Spirit that parents and other adults may have the wisdom it takes to pass the faith on to the next generation. In Jesus name, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Suit Up (Ephesians 6)


Suit up, Christian:
~ Belt of truth
~ Breastplate of righteousness
~ Shoes – readiness given by the Gospel of peace
~ Shield of faith
~ Helmet of salvation
~ Sword of the Spirit

I guarantee that you have nothing in your wardrobe that comes close to this. Nothing that can clothe you to face the Devil’s schemes. Nothing that can prepare you for battle like what God gives you through faith in Jesus. So suit up with what God gives and be strong in the strength that only God gives.

And then, according to the author of Ephesians, pray and keep alert. Don’t become complacent. And also make supplications for all the Saints as we fight the fight of faith; as we do battle in this fallen world.

There is much persecution going on in the world for Christians and it is only going to get worse. But if you have suited up in the armor of God, there is nothing to worry about. And praise be to God for that.

Mighty God, may we stand strong in your strength and may the strength we show bring You glory. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Awesome calling

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. [Genesis 2:24]

I met with a couple last night who are preparing for marriage.

Wow! What an awesome privilege to walk along side a man and a woman as they get ready to proclaim the Gospel through their marriage, but also scary.

I say scary because marriage is an awesome calling from God, not a right. It is also an awesome responsibility. Marriage is about putting Christ’s relationship with the Church on display. Marriage is about showing what forgiveness looks like; what God’s love looks like (among many other things). And I get to help couples see this.

God help me.

If only we could grasp this “profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32) we would all fall on our faces before God, begging for forgiveness, for how we have messed up and watered down marriage.

So God help me as I walk with this couple. I don’t want to mess this up. But more importantly, I want to be faithful to scripture; I want to be faithful to your promises and commands.

So I ask all of you to be in prayer about marriage. Pray for men and women who are married. Pray for those preparing for marriage. Pray for those who are single that they may honor marriage through their calling to be single. Pray for those in struggling marriages that they may find healing in some way. Pray for those who are divorced that they may be made whole through Jesus Christ.

Pray for marriage. Pray for marriage with all your being. And then pray some more.


If you have time, pray for me as I work with couples. May I be faithful and bold and loving and compassionate. And may I glorify God.

And may YOU glorify God as well.

Have a great day 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Awesome salvation

[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. [Ephesians 2:8-10]

This is one of my favorite verses in scripture and therefore one that I have my confirmation kids memorize and later on write about in the faith statements. I mean, think about it:
~ Grace; free gift from God.
~ Salvation is this free gift through faith in Jesus.
~ We don’t (and can’t do this) and praise be to God for that; for we couldn’t depend on our choice.
~ And in case you forgot, this is a free gift.
~ And again, in case you forgot, this is not the results of your works.
~ Therefore, do not brag but rather worship God.
~ Rejoice that God has saved you and created you to glorify Him.
~ And enjoy your walk/fellowship with God.

Wow! That is good stuff but yet many people do not know this. Many people do not know about this free gift because they have not been told or told again and again. If this free gift is so awesome (and it is) then why not talk about it again and again and again and again and again and (well, you get the point, I hope)…

My friends, you have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ so shout it from the mountain tops that all the world may hear.
Praise be to God!

Let’s pray…

God of grace, Your mercy and faithfulness endures through all generations. Your love extends throughout Your never ending creation. And when I contemplate this, Oh holy God, I am in awe of You and therefore I have this desire that all may come to know Your amazing love and grace through Jesus Christ.

And so I lift up to You all those who do not call on the name of Jesus as their Lord and Savior; that they may come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about a head knowledge about Jesus but an intimate knowing of the heart of Christ. May those who are reading this have their spirits stirred and transformed. May You open their eyes to see the truth of the Gospel. May they be joined to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

I also lift up to You those who are wavering in their faith. Maybe they are doubting the truth of the Gospel. Maybe they are drifting away from the church. Maybe some tragedy has turned them off from You. Whatever the case, oh God, may they remember Your love and come running back as the prodigal son found his father anxiously awaiting his return.

And for those, oh God, who think they stand firm; those who feel that nothing can touch them, humble them. May they be reminded that complacency is one of Satan’s greatest weapons. Strengthen their faith.

Faith is such an awesome gift from You through the Holy Spirit, so I ask that Your will may be done; that all those who call on the name of Jesus, may boldly go out and be Your instruments of salvation. May You be glorified in the faith of Your children.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

May God bless your day. May God give you opportunities to proclaim to people the saving love of God through Jesus Christ. And may God grant you the courage to not waste those golden opportunities.

The Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ A Prayer of Holiness

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. [Ephesians 5:3-4]

Holy God, I thank you that my eye lids opened to see this day you have made. I thank you that I am here in this world to glorify you. I thank you that you are using me to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But I need help; we need help.

There is so much filthiness around your children. So much impurity, sexual immorality, crudeness and foolishness. There is so much temptation and Satan is too strong for us.

Forgive your Church.
Strength your Church.
Purify your Church.
Send out your Church.

May this filthiness not be named among us and may we flee from its presence. May we run to you and may we seek refuge in your arms. Then, Oh God, lift us up that we may give you praise and speak of your goodness and holiness and grace and love. May we proclaim with boldness the death and resurrection of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins.

May we be holy as you are Holy.

Loving God, this task is too great for us and if it were left up to us then we would certainly bring it all to ruin.

May you be glorified and praised and worshiped; through Jesus Christ our Lord I pray, Amen.

May God bless your day as you strive for holiness and serve Him.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon prep on a busy Thursday

Today is Thursday…

…and that means sermon prep.  But being that it is July 23 it also means day #4 of VBS…AND…wedding prep day (I have a wedding on Saturday for a couple of friends).  All in all…it will be a busy day (with any luck I will also get my lawn mowed).

In any case…back to sermon prep.  The text I am preaching on is from John 6:1-21.  This is John’s account of the Feeding of the 5000 with Jesus walking on the water to boot.  It’s almost a 2 fer today.

My plan right now is to start things out with a prayer (like I usually do) but this time I am going to use the second lesson text (which is a prayer for the Ephesians — Eph. 3:14-21).  I am going to change some “yous” to “we” and use it for us…here and now.  I thought that sounded like good way to start.  It talks about being strengthened by the Holy Spirit; being rooted and established in love; that we may know Christ; but in the end all glory and honor to God forever and ever, Amen.

Now on to the Gospel text…

…here I don’t really know where I am going yet, but that’s what the Holy Spirit is for.  With everything going on today I am trying not to get too nervous.  Normally I would leave my office at 11am and head to Coffee Choices to eat and write, but with VBS today I can’t leave here until after 12noon (that will throw off the routine).  To the naked, untrained eye this may not seem like a big deal, but routines (for some) are important.  And when I get thrown from mine I often need to focus a little harder to stay on track.

<There I go again…off track…I am supposed to be talking about John 6>

Anyway…here are some initial thoughts about John 6:1-21:
(1) A foretaste of the Feast to come.
(2) When we are “hungry” Jesus WILL feed us.
(3) Jesus can do much with what we consider little.
(4) With Jesus in our life, we will have more than enough.
(5) A defense of youth ministry — a small boy was encouraged to contribute and 5000+ people were fed.

These sound like small tag lines but sermons often start with thoughts such as these.

What do you hear in this text?

In your particular place in your life, how does this text “feed” you?

God bless you today and always.  Praise be to God!


Sheep and THE Shepherd

The Gospel text for Sunday seems like a piece meal deal that cuts out a major story (The Feeding of the 5000).  But before we get too excited, the Feeding of the 5000 account is picked up next week when we begin a 6 week stretch in the Gospel of John.  This stretch in John starts with the feeding story and then a series or texts that talk about Jesus as the Bread of Life.  We will deal with that more in the coming weeks…but back to sheep and the Shepherd.

This Sunday, Jeremiah mentions the shepherds who have scattered God’s sheep and God’s response to their irresponsibility.  The Psalm is Psalm 23…”The Lord is my shepherd…“.  The second lesson is from Ephesians 2.  It doesn’t talk about sheep and shepherds specifically, but some correlations can be drawn.  The key verse that jumps out to me here is 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone.”  And then the Mark text from chapter 6 has people flocking to Jesus.  And even though he and the disciples are trying to get some R & R, Jesus has compassion on the people “because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So he began teaching them many things.”  Lots to deal with here.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I still haven’t totally figured out what I am preaching on yet (actually I should say that the Holy Spirit hasn’t revealed it to me yet).  But here are some thoughts I am pondering (at least until further notice):

(1) “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” (Jer. 23:1)
–As people who know the truth of God through Jesus Christ, we have an amazing responsibility.
–God WILL bring all his sheep back under one righteous King (referring to Jesus).
–God has a heart for “sheep”.

(2) Psalm 23…”and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Picking up where Jeremiah left off.

(3) Ephesians…God’s gift of salvation is for ALL people through Jesus Christ.

(4) As “sheep” we all need a shepherd.  But as we see from Jeremiah, we need to be aware of what shepherd we are following.  There is only one GOOD Shepherd.

Those are just a few things I am pondering and I am sure others will pop up today.  So with that I ask you:
What preachable moments are you seeing in the texts?
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 23
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

As a lay person sitting in the pew (and I know there are a number of you out there reading this…and many who are here in Jackson) what do you need to hear…right now…in this place?

What does it mean for you to be considered “sheep” and that Jesus is our “Shepherd”?

Until next time, happy scripture reading and have a blessed “sheepish” day following our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God!


Missed opportunity?

I can’t help but think that there was a missed opportunity yesterday.

Millions of people across this vast globe watched the Michael Jackson memorial service on TV and a few select people were able to be there in person.  I for one did not watch, but saw and heard a number of sound bites no matter the station I was watching (even ESPN had a couple sound bites).  Now…I don’t want to generalize this memorial service but I can’t help but think that it was probably no different than any other celebrity’s memorial service.

What was the missed opportunity?

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his (Jesus) blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Imagine if that verse were read at the memorial service (or one like it).  Imagine if the Gospel were preached in all it’s purity.  Imagine if people across the globe got a chance to hear celebrities witness to their faith (if there is indeed faith there to be witnessed to).  Like I said…I wasn’t there, didn’t watch and I don’t know the people in attendance.  But the sound bites I heard never once mentioned Jesus, God, faith or anything of the sort.  Missed opportunity.

With memorial services like this the tendency is to focus on the person who has died.  There are stories told to highlight what a great person they were.  There are facts shared that illustrate what a difference the person made in the lives of others.  There are tears shed and emotions laid out for all to see.  No doubt that Michael Jackson had an influence on many people, loved many people and helped many people.  No doubt that he will be missed and mourned for a long time.  But as with any person on this vast planet…Michael Jackson was a sinner.

Don’t get me wrong…he was no worse than anyone else, but he was a sinner.  I am a sinner.  You are a sinner.  But despite those facts Ephesians 1:7 is true for you and me and Michael Jackson.  I wish this was shared with the millions of people that were watching…and mourning.  Missed opportunity.

Funerals are an excellent opportunity to preach the Gospel to people that normally would not put themselves in a situation to hear the Gospel preached (i.e. they don’t come to worship unless it is Easter, Christmas or a funeral).  We can’t miss these opportunities.  People are searching for answers and reassurance.  What a missed opportunity to share with people that because of what Jesus has done and through faith we will all be together again.

Death doesn’t have to be good bye, but rather see you later.

The memorial service yesterday was an opportunity that was missed and will never come again.  Take advantage of situations in your life to preach the Gospel, share the Good News of forgiveness and proclaim the gift of life we have from God through Jesus Christ.

Let’s not miss opportunities.