A Prayer about Prayer

The following prayer was inspired by the sermon I prepared for today on James 5:13-20. The video of the sermon should be posted within a couple days at http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com. To God be the glory.

Holy God, You command us to pray, not in order to satisfy some narcissistic desire of Yours, but that Your glory would be be proclaimed through us. But we too often limit our interaction with You and thus we miss those holy moments. We procrastinate our prayers to a more convenient and safe time. We utter idle pastoral care type words in order to satisfy some Christian obligation to pray for one another. We miss moments of ministry because of our fear of failure. Give us faith and courage, oh God, to make much of You through unceasing prayer with one another. Open our eyes that we may see Your glory manifest itself in the everydayness of our lives. May we not miss a single moment to pray with and for our brothers and sisters in Christ. To You be all glory, honor, praise and worship through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

Love Not Hate

There are many people with whom I disagree, but it doesn’t mean I hate them. Even if they hate what I stand for and call me names, I do not hate them. Satan would like it if I were to hate them but I will not. I confess that it is hard at times but that’s why I commend this to God and ask Him for help. Only God can give me the strength and fortitude to stand strong in the face of opposition. Only God can love me with a love that spills out for others to see that glorifies Him.

In the past, I didn’t always think this way (not that I am perfect now) and for that I confess my sins and repent of my behavior. Not that I necessarily hated the people with whom I was disagreeing, but I can see now how some of my statements would come off that way. You see, I have often taken to social media to express my beliefs and run to the defense of like-minded people/organizations. As if those who oppose them are going to be swayed by anything I say or write. At times, I have been downright feisty – sometimes to the point of my heart racing with emotions and crossing the line at times. Once again, I repent.

As Christians, we are never going to lead people to the Truth – Jesus Christ – through hatred, but only through love. You can’t hate someone and then proclaim Christ to them. It’s as it says in James 3:10-12…

10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I regret the bridges that I have burned through hasty speech on social media and through other mediums. God forgive me. Brothers and sisters, let us bridle our tongues/words as we engage those with whom we disagree. Don’t come off as arrogant, morally self-righteous, or anything of the sort. Humbly approach each and every person and situation with the love of Christ – genuinely wanting people to come to the knowledge of the Truth. Pray for your heart. Pray for those who oppose you. Pray for your words. May blessings flow and not curses, that God may be glorified.

Holy God, bless the fountain that is my mouth and have holy dominion over my tongue. May the words that enter the arena for others to see/hear be holy words that glorify You. May disagreements be seen as mission fields and not battle grounds – opportunities to witness to the Truth. May my words be Your Words. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

In Love

The preaching series in James takes us into chapter 2 where James admonishes his beloved brothers (in Christ) about showing partiality. This is a message that hit my heart and one that I hope resonates with others.

So below is a prayer that I wrote for today’s Holy Communion liturgy, with James in mind (and in heart). To God be the Glory!

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God, Creator of all we can see and not see. In Love You created us.
In love You saved us through Jesus Christ.
In love You sustain us with Your Holy Spirit.
In love, may we go and serve one another, regardless of what they look like or come from or believe or think.
May we go with You and receive people without partiality.
May we receive them for the sake of the Gospel – proclaiming the life-saving Good News of Jesus Christ.
May we not be distracted by anything that Satan would throw at us to divide us. We are Yours, oh God, and we glorify You and You alone. And so, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise.


The preaching text for today is James 1:19-27 as I continue working through the Epistle of James. The following is the Holy Communion liturgy I wrote with this James text in mind and heart. To God be the glory.

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God, for You and You alone are worthy. But words are not enough to fully express our worship, and so may we not get caught up in only spouting off words of doctrine – falling into complacency – but may we also be doers of the Word. May we control our tongues, care for the vulnerable and be holy as you are holy. Oh Lord our God, Creator and Redeemer, Shepherd and Fortress, our hope and salvation. You call us to action and thus grant us Your Spirit that we may respond and so glorify You. And so with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise.

Abundant Wisdom

1 Timothy 2:1–4 (ESV) ~ First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

James 1:5 (ESV) ~ If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Oh God of all wisdom,
Wisdom seems to be in short supply,
But people stepping up to the microphone are abundant.
People raise themselves up to be leaders.
People raise others up to be leaders.
But rarely is it considered: Are they wise?
Rather, what is considered are qualities that are flawed and fleeting:
Ability to make people feel certain things
Ability to manipulate words.

But wisdom, oh wisdom, is in short supply.
Without wisdom, we can not lead Your people to fear you – to live peacefully.

Oh God, You give generously to those who ask for wisdom.
Oh God, I now ask that you may give wisdom generously to:
Our president
Lawmakers on every level
Law enforcement
Media professionals
And so on and on…

And, oh God, I ask for wisdom for myself.
May I be a wise leader:
in my family
in my church
in my community
May I strive to glorify you and be obedient.

Oh God, wisdom is indeed in short supply, but not with You. So please give generously out of Your infinite supply that we may lead peaceful lives glorifying You. I don’t ask for my glory or for my comfort but for Your glory.

Oh God of wisdom, please give generously – please give generously.

Through Jesus Christ my Lord I pray,

Being Built Up

This is the liturgy I wrote for Holy Communion today based on the preaching text, James 1:1-18. To God be the glory…

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God, for, of Your own will You brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of Your creatures. (James 1:18) You brought us forth through Jesus Christ and thus You have promised to bring us to completion and place on our head the crown of life. You put us through trials in order build us up that we may remember who we are and whose we are – becoming more and more Christ-like. You do not desire our destruction but rather our salvation. May our endurance bring You the glory that You rightly deserve. And so, with the Church on earth – redeemed sinners through the blood of the lamb – and the hosts of heaven, we join in singing Your unending praise.


This is a poem based on James 1:1-18 – the sermon text for Sunday, Sept 15 as I being preaching through the book of James. To God be the glory.

Lead me by the hand,
when trials come my way.
Hold me close to You,
So I’ll not go astray.

For You have a plan,
in all that I will face.
Trials have a goal,
Please help me to embrace.

I want to grow strong
For Satan tries to stop,
May I lean into You,
So I’ll come out on top.

Jesus is my Lord.
I know I’ll see some strife.
But, through my trials,
there lays the crown of life.

Open Mic

No doubt, many pastors can relate to the following story; for me it was a first in nearly 11 years of pastoral ministry, but there’s a lesson for all people in it.

On Saturday I presided at a wedding at Belmont Lutheran Church (the country congregation I serve). It was a small wedding with family and some friends present. The wedding service went great as God was praised and worshiped; tears were shed as the couple exchanged vows and all had a great time. Following worship I met the witnesses downstairs to sign the marriage license. There was a little small talk but generally me giving instructions on where they needed to sign. As we were finishing, I heard a voice from behind me,

“Pastor, shut your mic off.”

[Yup, I actually did that]

My microphone was on as the happy couple was dismissing and greeting people upstairs. My wife was fanatically texting me from upstairs; trying to get my attention, but apparently I have no problem remembering to silence my phone.

Embarrassed, I turned my mic off and sought out the couple. They just laughed at me and thought it was funny. Others got a kick out of it too.

[At least I wasn’t in the bathroom. I’ve heard those “horror stories”]

But it got me thinking…

I left my mic on during a moment that I thought was private; and yet I was not ashamed of what I said. I wonder, though, do I live other moments like that; living like I am on an open mic for the world to hear? I am not referring private counseling sessions or other conversations that really need to be kept private. But what about when you are out and about with people? Do you talk about others in a way that you would be ashamed for then to hear? Is you speech different than when you are in church or Bible study? Do you bless and curse with that God-given tongue?

Basically ~ Are you a Jekyll and Hyde type of Christian?

From James 3:9-12…
With it
(the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

A convicting text to say the least. With our tongue we worship and praise God one moment and then can easily speak evil of people the next. Maybe we need to imagine ourselves walking around with an open mic (turning it off when privacy is of utmost importance).

God gave you a tongue to praise Him but also gave you a tongue to build people up. Would you be ashamed if people knew what you were saying about them or talking about in general? Open your mic and use your tongue for that which God created it. Bless (at all times) and do not curse.

Creator God, You created all people in Your image. May we treat them as such; honoring and building others up as we honor and worship You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. [James 1:5-6]

God directed Solomon to ask for anything. He didn’t ask for riches or good health or long life or the death of his enemies but rather, asked for wisdom. Being a young king, he was concerned about how to rule such a people as God had directed him, so he asked for a discerning mind to lead God’s people. God was thrilled and pleased to grant such a request.

James , here, also directs Christians to ask for that which people might not think of asking. The conventional thinking and the ways of this world is to ask for success or good health or many friends or purpose in life or the athletic success of our children. But hearing this text, one may even be tempted to think ~ if I ask for wisdom then I can kill two birds with one stone; with my wisdom I can become successful and rich and have lots of friends and buy the best coaches for my kids. I think I got it. God, please give me wisdom.

Nope, still missing the boat.

God is pleased to grant wisdom (and a discerning mind) but wisdom in this sense is not something that is selfish but something that will glorify God. God is not opposed to people being successful and rich and the like. What saddens God is when God does not get the glory.

It’s one thing to be intelligent but a completely other thing to be wise. But it is one thing to be wise and a totally other thing to be wise when it comes to God. Godly wisdom glorifies God and leads people into deeper understanding of the ways of God. And a truly wise person knows that God can never be fully understood in this life so the wise person continues to pursue God; knowing that that pursuit is what gives true peace through Jesus Christ.

So when you ask God for wisdom, believe that God will give it.
Believe that God will lead you into greater understanding.
Believe that God will take you deeper.
Believe that God will help you grow closer to him.
Believe that your heart will be changed.

And believe that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ you have everything you truly need to know ~ The forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.

So ask and believe. God’s wants nothing more than for you to know Him better in Jesus Christ.

May God grant you wisdom and draw you closer to Him. May God give you peace in knowing His love. May God give you opportunities to share the Good News and may God give you a discerning mind to see those opportunities.

Praise be to God, always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

One purpose

5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
[James 3:5-10]

I published a post a couple days ago titled, “A big fat lie”. I am not going to rehash what I said there as a way to get you up to speed here (I trust you are able to look back and read for yourself).  But what I am going to say is something that is rolling around in my heart as I prepare to preach this sermon on the 8th Commandment ~ “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”

How are you using your words?  Are they blessing and praising the Lord or bringing others down; people who were created in the image of God?  Are you crafting words together with the intention to create, build and maintain faith or are your words cursing others through inappropriate displays of power through gossiping and backstabbing.  What we say says a lot about our faith and relationship with Jesus.  What we don’t say also says a lot about us.

So as James says, how can a mouth bless and praise the Lord one minute and curse others the next.

This ought not be so!

As a fresh water spring can not produce salt water the same goes with the tongue.  The tongue has one purpose and one purpose only ~ to BLESS and PRAISE the Lord.



The pastor -|—