Guarding

I am preaching on Romans 10:8-17 this morning. Earlier i posted, A Gospel Poem, that flowed from this sermon prep. Now, i have written this Holy Communion liturgy that was inspired by that text. To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.


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 have given us the word of truth that saves us our souls –
Jesus Christ,
Your only Son,
our Lord.
And through Jesus, You have given us a “good deposit” that is to be guarded with our lives, not hidden away and protected as gold or silver, but maintained in all its integrity. For it is only through the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ that people are saved.
And so,
may You send our feet to people who have not heard –
that faith may come through their hearing of the Gospel that flows from our lips and may those who hear this Good News come to call upon Your most holy name.
Oh Lord,
my God,
You are mighty to save and thus we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

A Gospel Poem

This poem is something I wrote as I prepared a sermon on Romans 10:8-17 — thinking about “beautiful feet” carrying the Gospel. I want people to call on the name of Jesus, but first we need to constantly reacquaint ourselves with the Gospel. So the Spirit placed this on my heart. May you receive this Good News again and again. To God be the glory, Amen.


You are a sinner, that is true.
God’s wrath you’ve certainly accrued.
Condemned to die, yes, you deserve.
A judgment from which you can not swerve.

Salvation you can not obtain.
You can’t do it, i’ll say again.
You need help, you certainly do,
In order to be made brand new.

So, what’s our hope? Well, i’ll proclaim –
You’re saved by Jesus holy name.
God’s holy wrath, he took for us.
For His love is in great surplus.

Jesus took your sins to the cross.
So your life would not be a loss.
Jesus died but death did not win.
Jesus rose much to death’s chagrin.

Now look to him and see God’s grace.
For this gift is yours to embrace.
You are a sinner that is sure,
But Jesus lives so you’ll be pure.

So repent and run fast to him.
And know peace filled over the brim.
Confess your sins, Yes, every one.
You are forgiven through the Son.

Now, Jesus lives and so will you.
And it excites me to review.
You are precious – his beloved bride.
Forever with him, you’ll abide.

Soaking In

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
[Romans 3:23-24]

Did you notice that above verse? Please don’t tell me you skipped it just to get to the “good stuff”. Read the verse. Now, read it again and this time include yourself in the word “all“. Now, read the verse again, keeping yourself in the word “all” and now, soak in the words “are justified by his grace as a gift“. Are you feeling silly for skipping that verse the first time?

My point is that YOU are a sinner, but through the grace of God in Jesus Christ, you are justified; made right in God’s eyes, as a GIFT.

GIFT!

GRACE!

No strings attached
No fine print
No bait and switch

Through faith in Jesus (which is a gift) you are justified by his grace.

Wow, I mean, WOW!

Soak that in.

A sinner saved by God.

Justified.

Wow!

The Pastor -|—

Groaning

My most recent article in the Tacoma News Tribune (TNT)…

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. [Romans 8:22-25]

I don’t know about you, but I have been doing a lot of groaning recently. I wrote in my last article about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in our culture and called for men to step up and change this culture of abuse. Since writing that article, things have continued with more “big name” people being fired, and more politicians being accused. No, I didn’t expect my article to have an immediate impact, but I am still groaning at the depth of this sin in our culture.

I also groan over the hurt in people’s lives close to me. I groan over the hate that continues to run amuck in the world. I groan over the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. I groan, I sigh, and I lift my eyes to the heavens. I cry out to God for redemption. I cry out to God for renewal. I do all of this in hope, though, remembering God’s promises that came to us at Christmas time.

Yes, it is that time of the year, yet many people see increased tension as to-do lists become longer and household budgets get stretched. The Christmas season is upon us with Advent beginning on Sunday. “What is Advent?” you may ask? Advent is a time of waiting; a time of preparation. No, I’m not talking about decorating or searching for that perfect gift. Advent is a time of preparation as we wait for our Lord Jesus. It is a time to prepare our hearts and make room for him, and not just make room, but clear house.

Advent is also a time of hope as we groan, for the birth of Jesus signaled the beginning of the end of God’s plan of redemption for creation. It is not just us groaning but all of creation and thus we wait in patience; knowing that Jesus’ birth means that our groaning will soon come to an end. Thus, this is a season of joy and peace and love. This is a season of celebration and expectation and anticipation.

Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Jesus was born. Jesus lived on this earth. Jesus was crucified. Jesus rose from the dead. These are all verifiable facts. Now we wait for Jesus to come again. That is where my hope is placed. We live in a world of groaning, but Jesus is coming to end all groaning. Prepare and make room for Him, for Jesus was born for you.

Happy Advent
and
Merry Christmas

The Pastor -|—

Nothing

Holy, awesome and mighty God,
I praise and worship You,
for through Jesus Christ I am sure that
neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present
nor things to come,
nor powers,
nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate me from Your love.
And so may I live with patience and hope
knowing that I have already won the victory through faith.
In Jesus Christ I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Living Worship

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [Romans 12:1]

Weekly gathering for corporate worship is just part of what we do as members of the body of Christ. We worship not to become Christians, we worship because we are Christians. Worship is not a have to; a duty, but rather a get to; a want to; a joy. That’s part of our worship life. Another part of our worship life happens “Monday through Saturday” as we present our bodies; our very lives to God. We offer our lives to God as a living sacrifice; forsaking all others and all things; placing God first. We live in such a way that is different from the world and that, right there, is really what is at the core of worship. You see, everyone worships. It is just a matter of who or what. What makes Christians different; holy, is that we worship a living, eternal God, not a finite, powerless god. We worship a God that is holy and thus demands that we be holy. God does not demand just part of our life, but the whole thing.

When you present your body to God as an act of worship you are saying to God, “Here I am. Mold me, shape me, guide me, direct me. Help me be more like Jesus. Help me be more holy as You are holy. Here I am, all of me.”  Don’t mistake worship as a weekly event but rather see your worship as a 24/7 way of life that submits to and glorifies God. When we divide our worship out or only present part of our bodies/lives to God, there is conflict and tension within our lives and our very being but when our whole being and life is presented to God, then you are at peace. Don’t divide your life up, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. In the words of a popular praise and worship song…

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

The Pastor -|—

Death is No More

Death is the stark reality that we must face every single day, and therefore this is the motivation behind Jesus’ ministry. He was on a death-destroying mission. So when Jesus comes face to face with death, while at Lazarus’ tomb, he is moved to deep and powerful emotion that gives us a glimpse into what kept him focused on the cross. Jesus is so angry at sin that he is obedient to the Father’s will and stays on the cross even though he had the power to call down a legion of angels to protect him. Jesus remains on the cross because the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Jesus defeats death and thus we have hope. Now, our weeping is not over death’s victory. We weep because we will miss our loved ones but also, through faith in Jesus, we can weep tears of joy over what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Cling to the hope of the resurrection, oh weary soul.

The Pastor -|—