The following is the most recent article I submitted to The News Tribune (Tacoma). To God be the glory.
On Sunday, NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others, lost their lives in a tragic helicopter crash near Los Angeles. The news caught my attention even though I was never a Lakers fan. You see, there was just something about watching Kobe that produced a sense of awe in how he played. He was a unique individual with a unique talent. He entered the league at the young age of 17 and made an immediate impact – winning 5 championships. His talent was off the charts. His competitive drive inspired a generation. His will to win was unmatched. Following his untimely death on Sunday, people began mourning over Kobe – many of whom had never met him but were inspired by him. Though he made his share of mistakes, people are not soon going to forget the name: Kobe Bryant. But this is just the beginning of my concern for this generation, and I say this with all due respect.
My concern stems from a comment I heard him say in an interview that was aired during a tribute to him on Sunday night. The comment was this: “I gave my heart and soul to the game of basketball.” Let that sink in for a moment. Some may say that there is nothing wrong with that – that he just gave it his all during his career – and that he did. You see, I am not claiming I know the status of his eternity. Only God knows that. I read a blog post that said Kobe was a devout Catholic, but I don’t know his heart. What I am trying to say is that I am concerned about a generation who believes that giving their “heart and soul” to anything of this world is a good thing. I came across a quote on Twitter recently from a respected theologian that said – “If you don’t live for Jesus you will live for something else. Will those things be enough? Will they die for you?” Now let that sink in for a moment. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
I say all of this because, for me, I gave my heart and soul to the one who died for me – Jesus Christ. Why? Because I am a sinner and nothing of this world can save me. No amount of intelligence, money, fame, popularity, prestige or strength matters when death comes calling. And when death does come, it does not discriminate. But, if you belong to Jesus, death is just a doorway: sin, death and the power of Satan have been defeated by Jesus Christ through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. As a sinner, you are unable to save yourself.
My hope and prayer is that Kobe’s statement was just that – a statement of how hard he played the game. I also pray, that if you have not given your heart and soul to Jesus, that you will look deep within and see the mess that you are, and then see the beauty and grace of Jesus. Give your heart and soul to the One who keeps your heart and soul for all eternity. Amen.
I lay my life in Your hands this night.
Give me peace that I will be alright.
Shine on me that I’ll dwell in Your light.
Keep me close and always hold me tight.
You are my God – my complete delight
Father, I am wholly Yours – Good night.
On Your Word I will stand.
On no other place will I plant my flag.
For Jesus is the Word made flesh thus,
To no one but Jesus will I tie my identity;
To no one but Jesus will I cling.
When push comes to shove,
My stand on Your Word will be the hill that I will die upon.
And if I die on that hill,
So be it –
I know my life rests in You.
You are my God and it’s You I will proclaim.
You are my hope in Jesus Christ my Lord.
Many cling to that which does not matter.
May I live in such a way that proclaims that which I stand upon.
Holy God, Father and Creator,
My identity is wrapped in the righteousness of Jesus.
And thus it is Your Word on which I will stand.
It is the hill I will die upon.
To You be all glory, honor, thanks and praise.
In the beautiful name of Jesus I pray,
The following is a confirmation blessing I wrote in honor of my niece, Meara, who is professing her faith today. I had the privilege of baptizing her in 2004 (my second ever baptism) and now I am here in Minnesota to be part of her big day. I pray that God may work in her heart to bring glory to his name through her life.
Today you profess your faith,
In Jesus Christ our Lord.
May your light shine ever bright,
With him you are adored.
Stand firm and never back down,
Though Satan push against.
For God is your strong fortress,
Through Jesus he’s dispensed.
You are His beloved child,
Forever in His arms.
So don’t ever fear or fret,
With Him will come no harm.
So proclaim your faith boldly,
And never be ashamed.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
You are forever claimed.
The 5 Solas of the Reformation are highlighted in bold in this poem. They are important statements in understanding the Good News of Jesus Christ as proclaimed in Scripture. The Gospel is from God alone, and praise be to God for that, otherwise we would surely mess it up and condemn ourselves.
Salvation from God was needed by me.
A sinner i am, i can’t disagree.
A Savior i needed, that’s my decree.
Listen right now and i’ll share how i’m free.
God’s grace alone is where it starts,
His love is free straight from His heart.
Through faith alone He will never depart.
For in Christ alone i have a new start.
So where’s this news? Well, it’s God’s Word alone.
It is there it says your sins He atones.
Jesus died and rose, he now sits enthroned.
Through faith alone you will ever be known.
Confess your sins and admit you need Him.
And forgiveness is yours way to the brim.
His light will shine and never grow dim.
And in His great love you will always swim.
Written to the glory of God alone.
You have probably noticed that I like writing poetry. I’m nothing special and definitely not the best thing since sliced bread, but I like trying to write it. Sometimes my poems are pretty strict in structure and beats per line. Sometimes I mix things up. Sometimes I write poetry that seems to break all the conventional rules. But no matter the poem, I have found a peace in writing them. As the following poem says, in my writing I am forced to think deeply about words I choose and in doing so I am thinking more deeply about my relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And so there you have it – my reason to rhyme…
Morning has broken, this day is new.
And my coffee is ready to brew.
Jesus my Lord, to him i will pray.
Doing no other to start my day.
It’s Your grace i think on and review.
Yet i’m writing a poem about You.
It seems i’m lost and going astray.
But in this style Your love i convey.
For as i write i think on You more.
And that is great for You i adore.
I’ll keep on going with You my God,
What i’m doing is not a facade.
And so i sit with coffee in hand,
thinking on You as my love is fanned.
I think about each and every rhyme.
knowing it’s never a waste of time .
To God be the glory. Amen 🙂
I am in Omaha, NE at the LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) Annual Gathering. I look forward to this event every year to connect with friends and colleagues in fellowship, worship and networking. It is also a time when I am encouraged in my faith. Case in point, at our opening worship on Sunday, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart through the sermon on Romans 10:14 and thus the following poem flowed out. Praise be to God!
I am a sinner that is true.
God’s wrath is most certainly due.
I fall short through every action.
My deeds have no satisfaction.
But Jesus died that I may live.
And thus to God all glory give.
He is worthy of all my praise.
To Him I will direct my gaze.
But Satan wants me to just quit;
Saying Jesus is not worth it.
But Jesus holds me ever close,
So thus to Satan, “adios”.
And so I’ll live my life for Him.
And not let my light ever dim.
So may I keep on standing strong.
That I may ever sing Your song.
Life is fragile and delicate.
Life is valuable and precious.
Only You, Lord, can be entrusted with it.
Only Your mighty and gentle hands can handle it.
But even though these fragile shells – shells that we call a body – will eventually crack, it doesn’t mean that You are careless.
These bodies are precious, from the moment we are conceived, but there is something even more precious, that which Jesus died to save –
That’s what’s in Your hands forever.
I hate to see shells
but I praise You that which is inside is perfectly safe and sound in Your mighty and gentle hands.
My life is precious.
My life is saved.
All praise be to You through Christ Jesus my Lord.
I walk by faith and not by sight,
And cling to Him with all my might.
In Him I find my life’s delight.
With Him I know I’ll be alright.
I walk by faith and not by plans,
And not to gain those worldly fans.
For God is with me through life’s span.
I’ll walk with our Lord hand in hand.
So walk by faith and with our Lord.
To walk with him is great reward.
May we be all of one accord.
Let’s walk by faith as one great horde.
Psalm 28:3 (ESV) ~ “Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.“
Have you ever felt this way following the realization that you have willingly submitted to temptation? Have you ever just dropped to you knees and pleaded with God to not drag you off with the wicked? There have been many times when I have come to realization that I have done something contrary to God’s Law/commands and wonder why God continues to put up with me. Sometimes I half expect a lightening bolt to strike me down or worse yet, that scary scene from the 1990 movie “Ghost” (Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze). Remember that – when the bad guy dies and then some dark figures come out of the shadows to drag their soul away? Please God, do not drag me off with the wicked.
The psalmist here is crying out to God, knowing that if his cries fall on deaf ears, he will be confined to the pit. But, Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. (Psalm 28:6) Through faith in Jesus Christ, your cries for mercy do not fall on deaf ears. You are a sinner, that is true, and that is why you need a Savior – Jesus Christ. For those who do not willingly serve sin, call upon Jesus; knowing that he is your strength and shield, and trust in him for The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. (Psalm 28:8) For those who belong to Jesus, you can have this hope for he died and rose FOR YOU that you would not be dragged away with the wicked.
Oh God, I praise you that through Jesus Christ, You have redeemed my life from the pit. I know I am a sinner. I know I have and will give in to temptation. I know I have and will disobey You. Oh God, may my heart be inclined to You, that I will not strive to satisfy the desires of my flesh but rather strive to know You more and more. Have mercy on me, oh God and give me strength, for You are my fortress and shield. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.