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.

Benediction ~ Promised Kingdom

Another benediction that I plan to debut on Sunday…

As a pillar of cloud and fire led the Israelites by day and night through the wilderness without fail, may the Holy Spirit guide and bless you in through your wilderness. As their resources and strength never failed know that God will never fail you. As God fought for them, know that God fights for you. As God brought them into the Promised Land, know that through faith in Jesus Christ, you will enter His Promised Kingdom. As God remained faithful to them, Go in peace knowing God will always be faithful to you.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

A Great Adventure

Three and a half years ago, You called me to follow You on a great adventure.
I left a land I grew up in (Minnesota) and moved to a new land (Western Washington).
You called me from a congregation that I gave my heart to for 12 years and sent me to a “church in a box” – a people unknown to me.
To say that I was nervous is to put it mildly, but my family and me went and followed You — and You have been faithful.
The call was to help build a church – in more ways than one. In one way I have been doing that for 3 1/2 years, but now You, oh God, are getting all literal on me.
You are now calling me to new territory again: Moving a congregation to a different community and losing our “church in the box” description.
To say that I am nervous is to put it mildly, but I will go and follow You — and I know You will be faithful.
Oh God, as You led Abraham to an unknown territory so lead me.
As you have led this congregation for 10 years, please continue to do so.
I don’t know what I am doing but You know and that is all that matters.
Even though I confess my nervousness here and now, I know You won’t abandon me.
I believe, help my unbelief.
And so, oh God, I give this all to you.
Let us go, once again, on great adventure together.
To You be the glory, oh God, always and forever.
Amen.

Thank You

I cannot see the wind but I feel it on my face.
I cannot see the air but I know it’s necessary to live.
I cannot see nutrients but I know they sustain my body.
I cannot see Your Spirit but I know it gives me Life.
Working behind the scenes.
Working without much notice.
You bless my days.
You bless my days with grace and love.
You bless my life with Your Son.
You give and give,
but yet I don’t thank as I should.
Your blessings come and come,
but I go about my days.
All that You do would be noticed if You stayed Your gracious hand.
Oh Lord, please do not stay Your hand as You should.
Oh Lord, as stand before You as a blessed one.
Oh Lord, thank You.

A Psalm for the Morning

Oh Lord, You are my strength and my song,
You are my salvation.
You cause me to rise in the morning,
and gently lie my head down in the evening;
keeping me throughout the night.
You are my guard on all sides;
defeating those that would oppose You.
Keep me, oh Lord, from straying from You.
Keep me from despair.
Keep me from straying from Your ways.
May I be faithful and obedient.
May I be true and right.
May I know the way You have ordained for my life.
Oh Lord, on my own I am lost.
Lead me, guide me, direct me.
I want to know Your ways.
Oh Lord, You are my strength and my song,
never do I want to leave Your side.
Keep me, this day, and always,
that I may proclaim Your holy name;
that Your glory may shine.

Faithful

Oh God,
Your Word is faithful and true,
Your Word is enduring and timeless,
Your Word is changeless and trustworthy,
You have never failed to follow through.
You have never let me down.
Oh God, so
How could I be so faith-less?
How could I be so trust-less?
How could I be so impatient?
You have never given me reason to doubt You, yet I did.

I confess.
I repent.

Hear my prayer and heal me.
Hear my prayer and strengthen me.
Hear my prayer and empower me.
In Jesus name, forgive me.

And now, oh God…

May I shine a light unto Your faithfulness
for all to see.
May I reflect Your glory,
for all to bask in.
May I proclaim Your love,
for all to know.

Satan wielded his sword against me.
Your sword is stronger for Your Word will never pass away.
May I always trust in Your faithfulness.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—


You Are

You are holy,
we are not.
You are perfect,
we make mistakes.
You are love,
we are anything but that.
You are strong,
we are weak.
You are right,
we are wrong.

We have good intentions,
but Your plans always succeed.
We think we’re in control,
but You sit on the throne.
We try to take control,
but You rule over all.
We look to our knowledge,
but You have all wisdom.
We plot out our course,
but You are the Way.

Oh God,

We fall short.
We hurt one another.
We go astray.
We forget about You

On our own we are lost…

[Father God, in Jesus name, forgive us]
[My child, you are forgiven]

Oh God,

YOU are…

AWESOME!

The Pastor -|—

Doors

Doors open
and
Doors are closed

Sometimes they are slammed shut.
Sometimes they close ever so slowly.
Whatever the case, a closed door signals
mourning
grieving
loss.
A closed door feels so
final
scary
uncertain.
A closed door means we can’t see.
A closed door means we’re
stuck
trapped
confined.

Oh God, I don’t like closed doors
but…

closed doors also signal something

NEW

we just can’t see it
and therefore we need to live by faith.

Oh God,
grant me the faith to trust in you;
to trust that when a door closes
that you’ll open another one.
Grant me the faith to cling to you.
Grant me the patience to wait for the right door to open.

Doors close
and
Doors are opened

My child, I AM the Faithful Doorkeeper

The Pastor -|—

Waiting for the Lord

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
[Psalm 130:5-6]

These watchmen have the night shift; standing watch on the city wall. They stand watch looking out for those who would want to harm the city, but as they watch, they are also looking for the rising sun. Why the rising sun? The rising sun meant morning and that meant they get to go home and be with their family. And so they waited for the morning; confident that the sun would rise. And they had every reason to be confident. I mean, from the beginning of time, the sun has risen in the morning as it was designed by God to do. And so these men wait; they wait for the rising sun. Confident.

Now consider what the psalmist is saying. His soul is waiting for the Lord and he is more confident in the coming of the Lord than the watchmen who wait for the sun to rise. The sun rises like clock work and even more reliable is the Lord and so his soul waits in hopeful expectation.

Oh weary soul, the Lord is coming, so wait in joyful expectation; being more confident than the rising morning sun. Oh weary soul, wait for the Lord, for He is coming for you.

The Pastor -|—

Idiots

As I journey through the Old Testament in my daily Bible reading I just can’t shake the thought that those Israelites were idiots. I mean think about it.  Over and over again they had to be reminded of what God did for them:

~ His mighty acts over the Egyptians
~ Parting the Red Sea
~ Water from a rock
~ Manna from heaven every morning
~ Quail every evening
~ A pillar of cloud and fire guiding them
~ Sandals that did not wear out

Mighty acts of power, love and faithfulness after mighty acts of power, love and faithfulness.  All of this and they whine and complain when things get tough.

Really?!?

Idiots

What does it take to convince them that God is awesome and powerful and faithful? What does it take for them to remember that God is not going to desert them?

All I can do is shake my head and roll my eyes.

Wait a second…

…don’t we do the same thing?  When times get tough, don’t we question God and wonder where He is?  Don’t we forget about God’s love and faithfulness?  I mean, we too run after other gods.  We too chase after idols.  We too whine and complain.

We too are idiots.

But praise be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is faithful.

People ~  Remember, remember and remember.

Our God is awesome
Our God is love
Our God is power
Our God is our God

Praise be to God and Amen!

The pastor -|—