Thy Kingdom Come

God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and live a godly life on earth now and in heaven forever.
[Martin Luther’s Small Catechism]

Jesus said, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near
[Matthew 3:2 and 4:17]

Reflecting on God’s kingdom is one that gives me great peace. When Pilate questioned Jesus, our Lord said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Which means nothing of this world can touch those who are within. And to be within is a gift of God through His Holy Spirit.

God’s kingdom is not a place,
With walls and buildings to embrace.
His kingdom is not a base,
That exists out there just someplace.

His kingdom is Jesus our Lord.
His kingdom is not of this world.
His kingdom exists without end.
His kingdom is our great reward.

God’s kingdom is here.
God’s kingdom is coming.
God’s kingdom is present.
God’s kingdom won’t disappear.

So,

Repent! The kingdom is near.
Hear this and turn from your sin.
Jesus the Lord died for you.
That in death you may never fear.

Liturgy of Repentance ~ Fishing

The following is the Liturgy of Repentance for our final Lenten midweek worship tonight. The scripture focus is Matthew 4:18-22; Jesus calling Andrew, Peter, James and John. We are called to radical discipleship; to leave all and become a fisher of people. This is scary and impossible on our own, but Jesus has promised to show us the best fishing holes 🙂

Redeeming God,
through Jesus Christ You have called me to follow.
You have called me to submit.
You have called me to trust.
You have called me to obey.
Oh God, I am blown away.
I have no credentials that would make me worthy to speak for You.
I have often messed up.
I have fallen short of Your glory.
I have sinned.
And You have called me?
Me?
A sinner?
You have called me to radically follow you.?
And to be a fisher of people?
But I don’t know how to fish for people.
I don’t know the right spots or the right methods.
But there is someone who does know.
As Jesus showed his disciples where and when to cast their nets,
show me.
You know where the fishing is good.
You know the best methods.
You know the best timing.
Forgive me, oh God, for when I take these matters into my own hands.
Forgive me, for when I fail to trust You.
Forgive me for trying to be my own fishing guide.
Forgive me for doubting my call.
Forgive me.
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry: I repent…

Fasting…Kind of

I am fasting…

…from social media…

…kind of.

I’m going on 24 hours now but let me assure you that I am still staying inline with Matthew 6:17 as my head is anointed and my face is washed. I’m not whining about it or walking around like I’m suffering from withdrawal. I do feel, though, like I am cheating a little since this is being automatically posted to Facebook and Twitter, but I am justifying it by not actually opening the apps or logging in online.

But pastor, WordPress is a social media platform, isn’t it?

Well, yes, but…it’s not Facebook or Twitter and I’m not checking WordPress and perusing it from time to time. That’s why I said “kind of“.

So, if you are “staying inline” with Matthew 6:17, why then are you writing about it?

You’re asking a lot of questions (or I’m talking to myself too much), either way, here’s why I am posting this:

My life seems quieter now.

I read a devotion recently that talked about listening to the voice of God. The author said that many people have inside voices and outside voices. He then went on to say that God doesn’t speak to us with those voices but rather with a still, small, quiet whisper. Why would God do that if He wants to talk to us so we will listen. Well, when someone whispers to you what do you naturally do?

Exactly!

You draw closer to them so you can hear. See my point?

Facebook, Twitter and platforms like those are loud; all using their “outside voices” to get your attention. So excuse me, I’m going to go and listen.

The Pastor -|—

Be Revealed To Us

Holy God,
Mighty in power,
Great in mercy,
Awesome in love;
as You heard the cry of Your people in captivity in Egypt
and sent Moses to lead them to freedom,
You heard the groaning of Your creation
and sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to give us freedom.
He was born King and quickly upset the powers that be.
Jesus rose to prominence only to be crucified
and then raised to complete Your plan of redemption.
Therefore,
as the magi traveled far to worship this King,
may we too humble ourselves before our King.
May our pride be dismantled,
and our kingdoms be destroyed,
that we may live forever in the Kingdom You have established.
Send Your Spirit that we may see Jesus revealed again and again
as Savior and Lord of our lives;
that we too may return;
walking by the Way of the magi;
praising You,
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Sofia – Homelessness Sucks

Sofia died on Sunday.

She wasn’t a family member.
She wasn’t a congregation member.
She wasn’t really a friend.
Sofia was just a woman I got to know over the last 2 1/2+ years.

You see, Sofia was homeless. Actually, she kind of had a home but most people would call it a Suburban. For 5+ plus years she lived in that vehicle with her cat. She received a extremely meager social security death benefit of $700/mo but that had to pay for a storage locker for some belongings, gas, food (for her and her cat), a basic cell phone, and for other incidentals that you and I would take for granted. She barely got by on that $700. When something “catastrophic” would happen in her life; something that most people would not deem “catastrophic”, she often came to my office for help. Sometimes she just needed a break and thus I would give her a night or two in a hotel. Thankfully my congregation has a fund for such emergencies. But as for housing, we searched high and low for resources to help her, but homelessness here in the Pacific Northwest is an epidemic; one of large proportions. Daunting, really, and sad. We were overwhelmed.

Earlier this year Sofia was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. At last count she had 12 tumors scattered throughout her body. One, that she showed me, was the size of a grapefruit sticking out of her armpit (sorry for that image, but she had to live with that). It seems strange to say, but it was a blessing when she ended up in the local hospital for the final weeks of her life. She got to die in a warm bed, having been well fed and surrounded by nurses and doctors caring for her. It may not sound like much to you, but for Sofia she died like a queen. Sure beats dying in anonymity on some park bench somewhere in the Pacific Northwest rain.

Many of us haven’t thought much about it but maybe we should. There are many people out there like Sofia. People who, for one reason or another, end up on the streets. Not all homeless people are drug users or alcoholics who made bad choices. Sofia was neither. Her husband died (her sole support) and then 6 months later she was left with no home. Nothing. This wasn’t her fault and it wasn’t due to her lack of effort. Often times, people who find themselves homeless are blamed and accused of being lazy and irresponsible. That is just a short-sighted stereotype and wrong. Many find themselves homeless due to conditions outside their control. Sofia was one such person.

Sofia and I had many conversations about faith. She questioned me often about why this was happening to her; why God wasn’t doing something. Then, in the next breath, she would express her faith and trust in God. She was rough around the edges and rubbed some people the wrong way but she tried everything she could and nothing happened for her. Sometimes I wondered if God indeed did forget about Sofia, but I know that wasn’t the case. In the end, though, I believe she kept the faith.

Now, I am left to reflect and wonder. The question I ask myself is, did I do everything I could? Could I have done more?  I just don’t know. There’s so much guilt. Did I do enough for the “…least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46)?

What is my point for writing this? I think part of the reason is for reflection purposes but mainly because I don’t want Sofia to slip into anonymity without anyone knowing her story. At least now, this will forever be out there on the Internet. Hopefully someone will stumble across this post and read it. Sofia’s story is not going to die with her. Will it change the world? Will it cause someone to come up with a solution for homelessness? Probably not. Will it change you? I hope so.

So the next time you see a homeless person, don’t just turn a blind eye, but do something. I’m not suggesting that you clean up a spare room in your house, but don’t just ignore them. Don’t pretend they’re not there. Don’t turn them into the background noise of a messed up world that is someone else’s problem. Look at them. Notice them. Pray for them. Maybe even talk to them. Listen to their story. Learn. And then, pray for change in the world, but let that change begin with you and I. That’s what I’m praying for because something needs to be done and it needs to be done now. Homelessness sucks. Plain and simple.

May Sofia rest in peace. At least now, she is no longer homeless. Praise be to God. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Time to Reap

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
[Matthew 9:37-38]

Have you prayed about this? Have you noticed what Jesus is saying; that the harvest is plentiful? Have you asked Jesus to send people into the field to reap the harvest? Well, have you? Now, have you included yourself in that prayer? No? Well, why not? I bet you’ve said something along the lines of, “I’m not qualified“, “I’m too old“, “I’m too young”, “I’m retired”, or any number of other lame excuses. Yes, I just said that, “lame excuses‘, because that’s what they are. If Jesus sends you into the mission field then Jesus will qualify you. And Jesus has sent you because your mission field are the people in your immediate social network.

What social network? I’m not on Facebook or Twitter?

I’m not talking about social media but your social NETWORK; those people you interact with on a regular basis. They are your family, friends, neighbors, restaurant servers, child’s teacher, UPS delivery person, coworkers, etc, etc, etc. You get the point, right? You are already smack dab in the middle of the plentiful harvest. And the workers that are needed?

YOU!!!

Pray not only that God would send workers into the harvest but pray that God would use you. Don’t just pray for revival in the church but pray that revival begins with you. I guarantee you that if you pray boldly like this; for God to send you into the harvest, God will do something amazing through you for His glory. Besides, those people closest to you, why wouldn’t you want them to know about Jesus?

So go ahead, pray the prayer and then hold on. The harvest is ready. Will you go for Jesus?

The Pastor -|—

Announce!

Loving Father,
You sent Your Son,
Jesus Christ,
to die and rise for us that we would have forgiveness of sins
and thus the hope of the resurrection.
And now we wait
excitedly and
patiently
for Jesus’ return;
knowing that at any moment the trumpet will blast,
and our Savior will ride in triumphantly,
and bring us into the great wedding feast.
May we not be found wanting when he returns,
but also,
may we not be quiet until then.
Therefore,
may our preparations also include
announcing to all that Jesus WILL return.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—