Pray, Pray and Pray Some More

The following is my final article for The News Tribune as today is my final Sunday at Living Word Lutheran Church. On Sunday, August 29, I begin my new (3rd) call at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Buffalo Center, IA. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these article over the years. My hope is that I will have an opportunity to continue writing articles for the local paper there. Either way, I will still be here. And so here you go…to God be the glory, always.


In my five years serving as the pastor at Living Word Lutheran Church, one of my favorite taglines has been, “Pray, pray and pray some more”. This is not just a take off from 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 where the Apostle Paul encourages us to Pray without ceasing. Yes, it definitely inspired this tagline but there is more to it. Far too often, prayer is only something people resort to when all else fails. Life is falling apart, a big decision looms and you do not know what to do, you have lost your job and wondering how to make ends meet, a cancer diagnosis has turned your life upside down. Whatever the case, prayer is that “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” lifeline. You call up God, give Him the situation and look for the million-dollar answer to make everything better. But that is not what prayer is all about. It is not about making your life better now.

Prayer is a relationship. It is not phoning a friend, but intimacy with the Creator. It is a relationship with your heavenly Father. It is curling up in the loving arms of your Good Shepherd. Prayer is not about changing God but rather being changed by God. Prayer is a way of life, not a portion of your life that you do in the morning, evening, at meals and sometimes throughout the day when “needed”. Prayer is not just simply listening and talking to God, but just being with the Father and living a life worthy of your calling – your calling to be a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Prayer is done in all circumstances, in all times, in all places and in all stations of life. Pray, pray and pray some more, and when you have done that, pray. Live in fellowship with God with your eyes firmly fixed on His will, His purposes and His glory. Pray, pray and pray some more, seeking to know Him better. Pray, pray and pray some more, not for comfort in this life, but because of the hope you have been given for eternal peace with the Father. Pray, pray and pray some more, knowing that I will be praying right along with you and for you.

Today, marks my final article for The News Tribune and my final Sunday as pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church. I will begin serving my new call in northern Iowa on August 29. But these articles will not end. There are many talented and godly people at Living Word who are ready to pick up the mantle, thus these articles on the 1st and 3rd Sundays will continue. It has been a joy to write these articles over the years and I will miss them – I will miss you, even though I never met many of you. But know this, no matter where I am, I will be praying, praying and praying some more, with you to the glory of God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord. Take care, my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Until we meet again, Amen.

Thoughts and Ways

The following is my second to last article for The News Tribune (Tacoma). My final article is due to be published on August 1 – my final Sunday at Living Word. It has been a joy to write these articles over the years. A big THANK YOU to The News Tribune for publishing these articles. I hope continue writing articles after I get settled in my new call in Buffalo Center, Iowa. I begin serving there on August 29. To God be the glory – always. Amen.


We have an awesome, incredible, loving, and gracious God. He is mighty to save. He is abundant in mercy. He is faithful to never, ever turn His back on us. Though we may not understand or enjoy the circumstances, God is in complete control. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” But I still wish I understood better God’s thoughts and ways because it gets frustrating when things do not go my way.


I never would have planned these past few weeks. My family and I were supposed to go to the Midwest and vacation with family over the July 4th holiday. This is an annual event to which we look forward, but unfortunate circumstances in my life changed those thoughts and ways. I will save you all the details lest I take glory away from God. Suffice it to say, it was an injury that required surgery, but I am doing well now. We had planned our way and were thinking thoughts, but all of that got thrown up in the air and scattered in the wind. There was much lamenting and even a few tears over why this was happening. I even had a couple dark moments when I felt utterly alone and abandoned. I began to relate to the psalmist at times as he lamented and wondered where God was. But as I wrote earlier, God was and is faithful to never, ever turn His back on His children. God never abandoned me.


In the grand scheme of things, my pain and discomfort really was and is not that bad, especially when I think of what others are going through. But I like my ways and thoughts and thus when they get disrupted, I whine. But I praise God that He is faithful. Though I may whine at times, God is still there to remind me that He has a bigger picture in mind. I still do not understand why my circumstances happened, but I know a bigger “why” that leads me to worship this faithful, grace-filled, loving God. I am a sinner, but Jesus died on the cross that I could be forgiven and thus have eternal life with God. The “why” of everything – God is merciful and full of grace and love.


My thoughts and ways are of this world, but God’s thoughts and ways are much bigger. Though things get tough now, God is walking you through them and will never let you go. Though things are confusing, God knows exactly where you are going. Though you disagree with God’s ways and thoughts, trust that, in all His sovereignty, God’s plan is perfect and God’s purpose in your life is holy. Therefore always remember, we have an awesome, incredible, loving, and gracious God. He is mighty to save. He is abundant in mercy. He is faithful to never, ever turn His back on you. Amen.

The Turning Page

The page is turning, the chapter is ending,
But the story is still the same.
The setting is changing with twists and turns,
But the plot is not in flames.

The direction of the story ebbs and flows,
Directed by Your sovereign hand.
You continue to write Your masterpiece,
A story that is so grand.

And being a part of Your perfect story,
In this chapter that’s now ending.
I am thankful that You will always be,
With me forever attending.

And So I thank You God for bringing me here:
The stunning Pacific Northwest.
Now it’s off to Iowa following You,
In You we’ve been truly blessed.

Worship ~ part 1

The following is the article I submitted to The News Tribune (Tacoma) for Sunday, June 6. It is part one of two focusing on worship in what looks to be a post-pandemic period. Part two will be published on June 20 so keep your eyes peeled. To God be the glory!


A question was posted on social media recently; a question that harvested a number of responses. Mine was not one of them, but I was tempted. I held off to carefully consider my response and not risk a full-scale social media debate that rarely produces anything constructive. Rather, I am choosing to share my response with you as a way to discern what is next for the church in what looks like a post-pandemic world. So first the question:

Does a Christian have to go to worship?

There are a couple things being inferred in this question, intentional or not – both of which are beyond the scope of a 500-word article I am allotted each time in this paper. So, consider this article part one, with part two coming on June 20. I realize the suspense may be difficult but please hang with me. I believe it will be worth your time.

The two inferences to the above question are, (1) Does a Christian have to worship, and (2) Does a Christian have to go to worship? I propose these two inferences because “going to worship” can imply the act of worship or a place where others gather for worship.  And both of these questions are important to consider in a post-pandemic world.

The first inference question, “Do I have to worship?”, has two responses from me. The first is that everyone worships whether you admit it or not. Worship is simply whatever or whomever you give utmost importance and attention. The second response is this, the question is un-Christian. What I mean, is that a Christian, one who has the Spirit of God living in them, bearing witness to their spirit that they are a child of God (Romans 8:12-17), does not ask this question. Why? Because worship of God the Father is a natural outflow because of what you know of God and what He has done for you. Through Jesus Christ, you are made righteous and thus are no longer under condemnation. God condemned sin in Jesus, that you may live. And when the sinner realizes this through the gift of faith, one’s heart explodes in worship. Worship takes many forms, but however it looks, it is done joyfully and without asking, “Do I have to?”. For a saved sinner, worship is as natural as breathing.

Can you see how this is an un-Christian question? Therefore, the only proper response to the question is this: NO! A Christian does not HAVE to worship. A Christian GETS to worship this awesome God. But the issue is definitely not settled because the next inference is this, which I will deal with on June 20, Does a Christian have to “go to” worship?” Is corporate worship – worshiping with others – important?

This is my response to part one of this question. More can be said, but that is enough for now. Prayerfully consider this question: Do you have to or do you get to worship? So there you have it. I’ll see you on the 20th. To God be the glory, Amen.

The King Reigns

The following is the article I wrote for The News Tribune (Tacoma) for Sunday, November 15. To God be the glory!


The votes are in. Everything has been tabulated. A winner is clear and therefore I am going to call it: Jesus is still King and always will be. Did you think I was going all political on you? Do not worry, I am not going to leave my Lord and Savior, the King of creation. I want Him to reign over my life. I want Jesus to be my Shepherd. I want my life in the hands of the Almighty. Any other person, political party, organization, or group is just a sinful group of people who have no ability (or desire) to see the big picture. My awesome God is the creator of the big picture. Actually, He IS the big picture. Can I get an Amen?

But people have always, and continue to, desire worldly leaders to govern them. In 1 Samuel 8 the people of Israel demanded that Samuel appoint a king to rule over them. Interestingly, the people were concerned that Samuel’s sons, who would succeed him as judge over Israel, were corrupt. So, instead of Samuel’s corrupt sons, they wanted a sinful man to rule over them; one who would have even more power. And isn’t that what people want today? We see it every election cycle. People make demands for so and so to rule over them; thinking that everything will be better. And like Samuel warning the people what a king will do, we reject all the warnings and place all our hopes in that person(s).

Samuel was displeased with the people’s demand, but God reassured Samuel that they were not rejecting him, rather they were rejecting God as their King. And that right there is the issue: The rejection of God as King. So many people have placed their hopes in secular rulers. Their happiness rises and falls with them. We saw this when our current president was inaugurated in 2017 and we are seeing it again now in how many are reacting to the outcome of this election. “We want our ‘king’ and thus we will fight for him.” Jesus said to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. If it were, his followers would be fighting to save him. And that should be the reminder that slaps all Christians in the face — we serve a King whose Kingdom is not of this world. We do not have to fight for His Kingdom. God has already won the war through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His Son. His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom. Through faith in Jesus Christ, you are a child of God and thus are under His mighty and everlasting rule. Secular leaders come and go, but Jesus is forever. Do not reject him, but be at peace with God as your King.

You may not like who was elected president or the party that rules the Congress. You may not like who sits on the Supreme Court or any other court for that matter. But one thing is for sure: Jesus reigns and through faith in him, he will never reject you. Take joy in the fact that God reigns as King now and forevermore. Amen.

New Normal

The following is the Sunday article I wrote for The News Tribune (Tacoma) for October 18. To God be the glory!


I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying this year as I know many of you have. This pandemic has dragged on for a long time and, if you are like me, you are getting anxious. You want things the way they were. You are tired of worshiping in a parking lot or online. You miss the sanctuary of your church building. You miss your brothers and sisters in Christ. And I totally get it. But have I come to a realization that may not be too popular with many.

No, I am not going to advocate that we maintain the status quo indefinitely (you can breathe a sigh of relief now). What I want to do is encourage you to pray unselfishly and consider things that maybe you have not considered before. What do I mean? I have been hearing this phrase a lot, but just recently it has caught my attention anew, “I am looking forward to getting back to normal”. And, as I thought about that phrase, God placed this question on my heart:

Have you considered that I am preparing you for a new normal; something you have never even imagined?

I have thought about that in the past, but it never got more than a passing glance; nothing worthy of a full-scaled article like this. So, I asked God, “For what are you preparing us? What does this new normal look like?” Of course, God did not give me a direct answer – He rarely does. But what God did do is give me a series of questions to pray about, and thus I commend them to you:

(1) What if God does not want us to return to “normal”?
(2) What if God has been using this pandemic to completely break what we have been doing in order to create something new?
(3) What if God is using this time to redirect our attention; to hone our vision so it is 20/20 vision on Him? (See what I did there with the “20/20”?)

I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that the Church will never, ever be the same again. We just cannot return to our old “normal”. To do so, we would miss a golden opportunity to glorify Him. I believe that God has been beautifully remolding and reshaping us. Yet, many are afraid of the new. Brothers and sisters in Christ, instead of going full steam ahead in trying to return to “normal”, let us go full steam ahead and pray. Pray, pray and pray some more, and do not be afraid. Pray for the faith, courage and strength to do whatever it is for which God is preparing you. May we not have tunnel vision that is fixated on our comfort zone and “normal” but rather 20/20 vision on our awesome God through Christ Jesus our Lord. He is in control. He reigns and He is sovereign. It is okay to trust Him. He has never let you down and He never will. Let us boldly go into whatever new normal God has for us. To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.

The Sin of Racism

The following is my Sunday article in The News Tribune (Tacoma). To God be the glory!


In these recent weeks, we have seen an uptick of drastic measures being taken with the hope of eradicating racism. Statues of historical figures have been pulled down because they were slave owners. Nancy Pelosi ordered the removal of portraits of four speakers who served the Confederacy. My hometown Minnesota Twins removed a statue of former owner, Calvin Griffith, from outside their stadium. He moved the team from Washington D.C. to Minnesota in 1961 and then made some racist comments about why he moved the team in 1978. And now I am hearing people say on social media that Christianity is steeped in white supremacy. I get the pain that has bubbled over since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis on May 25, but the measures that are being taken will not solve our problems – it will only exacerbate the true underlining issue.

Do not get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we glorify people who were/are racist, but when we start censoring our past, we risk becoming victims, once again, of the sins of our past. And if we can remove all images of our racist past, what next? What past sin will we go after next? Erasing our past is not the way to healing but rather remembering who we are and whose we are. And here lies the underlining issue – one that we all must accept before any healing can happen. What is the issue? We are all sinners. Tucker Carlson said recently that “No child is born evil. Sin cannot be inherited”. Umm, excuse me Mr Carlson, you are wrong. We are ALL born sinful – you included. The only one born with no sin is Jesus Christ. Period. End of debate.

But now here comes the hope for healing. This sinless One, Jesus, died on the cross and rose from the grave that your sins could be forgiven. Yes, yours too, Mr Carlson. Our hope for healing is admitting that we are born sinful and that we continue to live in sin. Our hope for healing is confessing that we cannot save ourselves. Our hope for life is reaching out to God in faith and throwing ourselves at His feet. We are sinners, and that is a past we must never forget – for when we forget who we are as sinners, we forget about our need for the awesome grace of God through Jesus Christ.

Yes, racism is a sin for we are all made in the image of God – black, white, yellow, or whatever color you are. You were wonderfully and beautifully made by our Father and Creator God. To treat someone as something less than human is to slap God in the face and insult Him. We must deal with this issue, but it all starts with Jesus. Until we do that, all of our worldly efforts will fail miserably as people scramble for power. Submit yourselves to God’s incredible mercy and know the healing that only comes through Christ Jesus our Lord. You are sinner, Never forget that; but also know the love and grace of God through His sinless Son, Jesus Christ. To God be the glory. Amen.

How The Grinch Didn’t Steal Easter

The following is the article I wrote for The News Tribune (Tacoma) for this morning’s paper. To God be the glory!


From 1 Peter 1:3–5 (ESV) ~ “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Christians from around the world celebrated Easter last week – the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. But it was not the kind of Easter celebration I had imagined. You see, I have fond memories of brightly decorated sanctuaries adorned with beautiful lilies and filled with lively music with lyrics such as, “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!” I always enjoy seeing the children dressed in their new Easter outfits and seeing visiting family members once again. This year, the day was beautiful with the Mountain out in all its glory, towering behind our church building. But as I stood behind our building gazing at the mountain — and recalling all these Easter traditions — I felt a sense of sadness. It was like the Grinch dressed as the Easter bunny, snuck in and filled his sack with everything Easter, down to the last ham and can of Who Hash. This is not how it was supposed to be.

But if you remember that Dr. Seuss classic, the Grinch – thinking that he had accomplished his fiendish deed – discovered something. Upon hearing the singing in the valley below, as he was basking in the success of his devilish efforts, he realized something.

“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!”
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!””

[How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Suess]

The hope that comes with Easter is something that does not come in baskets or wrapped in succulent chocolate. The hope of Easter is not dependent on traditions like flowers, bonnets, and music. Easter is so much more. The hope that comes with Easter is kept in heaven FOR YOU and comes through faith in Jesus Christ. The hope of Easter is the fact that Jesus, though crucified and buried, rose from the dead. Jesus did this FOR YOU, that your sins would be forgiven and that you would be reconciled back to God. The “Grinch” has canceled a lot of things, but it could not steal Easter. Though many were not able to gather in church buildings, Jesus is still risen and always will be. And because of this Good News, my heart continues to grow – more than three sizes big. To God be the glory, ALWAYS and forever, Amen.

Washed Clean

The following is an article I wrote for this morning’s paper in The News Tribune (Tacoma). It was something I wrote about a week ago – right when things were really ramping up for many around here with restrictions surrounding COVID-19. Living Word had just canceled the rest of our Lenten services and we were going to discuss the status of our Sunday services (which are online now). What a week it has been, but praise be to God that I am his.


No matter where you go or where you look, you will hear/read news about the COVID-19. Statistics seem to change by the minute. Country, state and county boundaries cannot stop the spread of this virus. The CDC and various state and local health agencies are working hard to keep us informed. Basic health and safety messages are being repeated, “wash your hands”, “stay home if you are sick”, “avoid large crowds”. Aggressive measures are being taken: (i.e. restricting crowd sizes, canceling events, closing schools). But no matter what we do, the virus continues its relentless march like a wall of toothpicks trying to stop a tank. We fight and fight, but the march continues. We hide ourselves away, but it still finds us.

As more and more people experience this menace invading their backyards, the fear factor is rising. “Will I or a loved one be next?”. It seems as if the only thing that can be done is to just sit and wait for the inevitable, like waiting for the invisible man, who has been stalking you, to strike.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like living in fear and therefore…

I WILL NOT!

I refuse to let this virus render me paralyzed by fear. Rather, I am going to remember who I am…

A child of God.

Through Jesus Christ and because I am a sinner: I have been redeemed, I have been claimed, I have been given a new identity, I have been given hope. Through the cross and the empty tomb, I have been given citizenship in the Kingdom of God through the forgiveness of my sins and thus I am protected by God’s holy army. No relentless viral army will touch this redeemed soul. I am His. My creator God is King and Lord. He is sovereign over this virus. He is my loving Father and Mighty Fortress. He is the Rock on which I will stand, and thus I refuse to step off. Satan is wielding this virus to strike fear into people, but I will stand and say, “My life belongs to Jesus! Back off!”

Why isn’t God destroying this virus? Why isn’t God sparing us? Why isn’t God doing something? Well, God is doing something. He’s has my attention. Does he have yours? I really don’t know what God is up to, but I do know, that when this is all said and done, God will be glorified. Why? Because God saves sinners and God is in control.

And therefore, as I repeatedly wash my hands, heeding the advice and warnings of the health professionals I will remember. I will remember that my soul has been washed clean of my sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. Every time I come in contact with water — I will remember and cling to His promises. Water will no longer be a sign, reminding me of the virus I’m trying to ward off – it will now point me to the One who holds my life.

Be cautious. Be diligent. Be smart. But don’t live in fear. Live in hope that through Jesus Christ you are washed clean.

Praise be to God, always and forever, Amen!

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.