Guided Prayer for Churches

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


I was recently asked to record a guided prayer devotion focused on churches planning on resuming in-person or on-site worship. So, I include this devotion here, and ask you to join me in praying. Churches are faced with many challenges today and leaders need to make difficult decisions. May God be glorified as we seek to faithfully follow Him. In Jesus name, let us pray…

Father God,
Awesome and mighty,
Always creating – always reforming.
Create in us clean hearts, oh God, and renew in us a right spirit.
For we acknowledge that we have fallen short of Your glory.
We have become anxious.
We have not always sought You.
At times, we have let this virus divide us and lead us into fear.
Cast out our fears with Your perfect love.
Heal our divisions with the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Revive Your Church, so we may more fully fix our gaze upon You, and You alone – that we may worship You rightly and that our in-person gatherings may not be for selfish reasons, but for the glory of Your holy name.
This virus seemingly has torn the Church apart, but we know that is not true.
Whatever the reasons we are going through this time, one thing is clear – You are sovereign, even over this virus.
We may never look the same again, but that is okay, for You are God, and You are in control. And so,
Reform us.
Revive us.
Remake us.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

[Read Psalm 119:8-24]
[Pause to Meditate]

Holy God,
Father and Creator,
You are worthy of all our worship.
You are worthy of all praise.
You are the source of all wisdom and understanding.
You are the great I Am.
And so, teach us, oh God, that we may delight in Your precepts, for we seek to glorify You, and You alone, for salvation is from You through Christ Jesus our Lord. Give wisdom to Your Church as we navigate these waters known only by You. Lead us as we seek togetherness – as we seek to magnify our worship of You. You have held us together and will never let us go.
Oh God, holy and awesome, we praise You.
We love You.
We adore You.

And we want to know You better.

And now, oh God, hear us as we pray the prayer Jesus has taught us…

[Pray the Lord’s Prayer]

Pray, pray and pray some more.
To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen

My Shepherd

The following poem was birthed this past week through a devotion I recorded on YouTube. It was part of a larger series called, The Wednesday Word that I do every Wednesday at 6:45 AM (PST). I was talking about the word “meditate” — more specifically, meditating on God’s Word. I led people through a meditation exercise on Psalm 23:1 and encouraged them to spend some time in that verse. As I followed my own advice that day, the Spirit started to bring this poem to life. It now breathes and thus I present it to you now. To God be the glory!


The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want.
So why shall I worry?
For I am in His flock.

He leads me in green places,
And by waters still.
So why shall I worry?
He is always my fill.

He doth restore my soul,
in righteousness.
So why shall I worry?
My life is not a mess.

Dark valleys I walk in,
evil around.
But I will not worry.
In Him I’m safe and sound.

My table is prepared,
with enemies near,
But I will not worry.
My anointing is clear.

His goodness and mercy,
will follow me,
all the days of my life,
and with Him I will be.

Deeper

Tonight is our final Lenten worship service of the year. I will be live streaming from my home starting at 7 PM (Pacific) on our YouTube channel: Living Word Lutheran Church – Graham, WA (if that doesn’t work, use Puyallup, WA instead for the city). The text for preaching will be Psalm 130, “God’s Promise of Redemption”. And so with that, I offer the following liturgy of repentance that I wrote for tonight. To God be the glory.


Redeeming God, my rescuer –
All too often I have tried to go it alone.
All too often I have tried to rescue myself.
All too often I have appealed to the world.
And each time I try, I sink deeper,
and deeper,
and deeper into the mire.
I struggle and claw,
I fight and battle,
but to no avail.
It’s a hopeless cause,
and one of my own doing.
Yet my pride gets in the away.
My stubbornness too often wins the day.
I resist,
I deny,
I forsake.
I forsake Your redeeming and steadfast love.
Oh God, I cry out to You.
Hear me.
Rescue me.
Help me.
I am weak and defenseless.
I am tired and sinking.
Deeper,
Deeper,
Deeper, into the mire.
Help me. Save me.
Redeem me!
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry: I repent…

My Keeper

This is a liturgy of repentance that I wrote for our Lenten worship service tonight. The text for preaching is Psalm 121 as I talk about God’s promise of everlasting keeping. Just think about this: You a sinner – are kept by God – through faith in Jesus Christ. Wow, oh Wow! God is awesome!


I am known by You, for You formed me.
I am known by You, for You knit me together.
I am known by You, for You choose me before I knew myself.
I am known.
I am known by You, for You breathed life into my being.
I am known by You – you know my – everything.
You know my sin.
My failings are known by You.
My shortcomings – they too – are known by You.
Everything – everything is known by You.
And yet – You keep me.
Through Jesus Christ You are my shade at my right hand.
Through Jesus Christ You are my Rock and Salvation.
Through Jesus Christ You keep my going out and coming in.
Through Jesus Christ You keep my life.
My life, oh God, You keep it.
You are my keeper.
My loving keeper.
The sinner that I am – and You keep me.
Oh God, I am unworthy to be kept.
I am unworthy to be treasured by You.
I am unworthy of anything but condemnation.
Oh God, if I am kept by You, I want to honor and worship You.
I want to glorify You.
I want to serve You.
And thus, I confess my shortcoming – my sin – my unworthiness.
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry: I repent…

Where Does My Help Come?

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord , who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
[Psalms 121:1‭-‬8 ESV]

I love this prayer that I came across – from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s my prayer today (and everyday) and I share it with you to pray as well…


O God, early in the morning I cry to you. Help me to pray; and to concentrate my thoughts on you; I cannot do this alone.

In me there is darkness, but with you there is light; I am lonely, but you do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help; I am restless, but with you there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience; I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me. . . .

Restore me to liberty, and enable me to live now that I may answer before you and before men. Lord, whatever this day may bring, your name be praised.

Amen.


God help me this day, for you are my shade at my right hand for You have THE place of honor in my life. To You be all glory and honor, through Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.

Your Beautiful Law

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and I am preaching on Psalm 119:17-24. It will serve as a prelude to our midweek Lenten series on the promises of God from the Psalms. In preparation for tomorrow’s sermon, I wrote the following prayer based on the preaching text. It sums up the heart of psalmist and thus I present it you and to God be the glory!


Oh God,
show me abundant compassion and mercy,
that I may live.
Heal my hurts, grant me strength, preserve my life,
that I may not only live,
but glorify You through holy obedience to Your law.
It’s all about You, oh God. It’s all about You.
Therefore open my eyes that I may know.
But I don’t just want to know Your law,
I want to know and appreciate Your law –
I want to see it’s beauty in the midst of the ugliness of sin.
This world is just a temporary place for me,
For I am waiting for something better –
Your holy courts.
Oh how I long for Your holy courts.
Oh those beautiful courts.
In the meantime, as I wait and sojourn,
Hide not Your law from me.
Open my eyes.
Many have turned away from You,
and they are accursed.
But I will not turn away.
Even though they persecute me.
I will not turn away.
Even though they ridicule me.
I will not turn away, rather,
I will meditate on Your statutes,
That I may glorify You in my humiliation.
Oh Lord my God, help me that I may not turn away.
How beautiful are Your testimonies.
Sweeter than honey from the comb.
I desire your Word, so much so,
That they are my counselors.
They teach me how to live.
They show me what is right.
They reveal Your holiness.
They proclaim Your glory.
Oh God,
Open my eyes, that I may obey.
Open my eyes, that I my honor You.
Open my eyes.
I want to appreciate Your law more.
Amen.

Holy Awe

The following is the prayer I wrote to pray before the sermon this morning. God help me…


Holy God, as a minister of the Gospel, I come to this task of preaching, as I do every time I step to the pulpit, with a heavy sense of awe. For it is Your Word I have been called to proclaim – Your Word, not mine. To withhold or to add to Your Word, would be to deny the truth of who You are. To twist, shape and mold to fit my agenda would be to misrepresent who Your are. Your Word is holy as it is. As the psalmist says in Psalm 19: The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. This is the holy awe with which I am faced. And so, I ask for Your Spirit to guide my words that I may not run afoul of this holy task. May I make much of You and You alone. To You be all glory, praise, honor and worship through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.

Sanctity of Life

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


I may ruffle some feathers with this article, but I would not be living up to my self-proclaimed title, “Feisty Pastor”, if I did not write this. You see, Sunday, January 19 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. It is a time for us to remember and call on people to cherish life – all life. This is not an anti-abortion movement but a PRO-life movement – a recognition that all life, as it begins at conception and ends in natural death, is valuable. In the Word of God from Psalm 139:13-16, the psalmist writes,

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

One of the criticisms I hear from the pro-choice crowd is, “You care about the unborn but once they are born you stop caring.” It paints the pro-life crowd in broad brush strokes – only showing what they are against and that they really do not care about ALL life. Well, this is simply not true. Yes, there may be some that fit this description, but this is not the reality with most who hold the pro-life label. This is not about stopping a particular medical procedure that kills a baby — this is about cherishing ALL life in ALL stages.

My wife and I are adoptive parents, not because there was a medical reason behind us not getting pregnant, but rather we felt called. But like many men and women who seek to adopt, we faced many challenges to make our dream a reality – mainly financial. And there are many more parents out there like my wife and me. The problem is adoption is so cost-prohibitive for many. I struggled with this for a long time. Thankfully, God blessed my wife and I with loving family and friends to help us. The government wants taxpayers to fund abortions – to kill innocent lives – but what about funding adoptions? What about helping men and women with resources to give loving homes to children whose birth parents cannot care for them or those who are simply, “unwanted”.

My wife and I are definitely happy that our children were allowed to live. I cannot imagine life without them. They are precious. ALL life is precious – the unborn and the born, young and old, black and white, healthy or not. God is the creator of life. God knit you in your mother’s womb. God knew you before a sperm and an egg met and started multiplying. You were wonderfully made. On this Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and hereafter, please pray for and cherish ALL life. To God be the glory. Amen.

Let Us Ascribe

It is Sunday.

The Lord’s day.

Let’s us join together – raising our hands to God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord…

Yes, oh yes, it is right and our duty and our joy to ascribe worship, praise and glory to You, oh Lord, our Rock and Redeemer. You are full of majesty. You are full of power. And You reign on high. You sent Jesus to live and die and rise for us – that we would have the hope of everlasting life. There is so much to You, oh God. To probe Your depths would be a never-ending task, but oh the joy in trying. And so, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

Bless the Lord, oh my Soul and all that is within me. Bless His most holy name!

It Is So Right

Psalm 122:1 (ESV) ~ I was glad when they said to me,“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”


Oh God, it is so right and salutary. It is indeed our joy and privilege to give you thanks and praise at all times and in all places – in every moment and with every breath. You are worthy. You are so worthy for You have given us a King to reign over us that we may never fear anything or anyone. You have given us a Savior who has saved our very souls. You have given us a Shepherd to feed and nourish us. You have given us a place at Your Banquet Feast – a place of honor – so we may longingly and lovingly perpetually gaze our eyes upon You. Yes, oh God, yes, it is right and our joy to worship You. And so, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise.