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.

Twelve Days for the Whole Year

The following is the article I submitted for The News Tribune (Tacoma) for today. I have been thinking recently about this secular sense of the “season” of Christmas. In reality, Christmas is not a season but an everyday reality throughout the whole year. That is the inspiration for this article.


January 5 will be the twelfth day of Christmas – and no, it is not about drummers drumming and ending with a bird in a fruit tree. The twelve days of Christmas is just the prelude to the rest of the year as we live in the promises of God through Jesus Christ. And so, with that, I offer this new rendition of the popular Christmas song: The 12 Days of Christmas. Enjoy and to God be the glory.

My true Love doesn’t give me things like partridges or turtle doves, French hens or pipers piping, dancing ladies or egg-laying geese. My true Love does not give me silly things like these.
But my true Love gave to me…

(1) Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, I have a Savior who died for me.
(2) Instead of two turtle doves, I have His love that came down from above.
(3) Instead of three French hens, I have the faith to boldly pray my amens.
(4) Instead of four calling birds, I have His inspired, infallible, inerrant holy Word.
(5) Instead of five golden rings, I have a Spirit-renewed heart that sings.
(6) Instead of six geese a-laying, I have confidence that with Him I will be staying.
(7) Instead of seven swans a-swimming, I have a joy that is more than brimming.
(8) Instead of eight maids a-milking, I have His promises fulfilled that He’s not bilking (yes, that’s a word – and used correctly).
(9) Instead of nine ladies dancing, I have a place in His holy court, at whom I won’t be just glancing.
(10) Instead of ten lords a-leaping, I have security in His hands in which I have safekeeping.
(11) Instead of eleven pipers piping, I have the sure and certain hope that my tears He will be wiping.
(12) Instead of twelve drummers drumming, I have excitement that my Lord Jesus will soon be coming.

My true Love gave me everything I need for all that I need is Him through Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.

Never Over

The following is the article I submitted to The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) for Saturday, Dec 21. To God be the glory.


In a couple more days it will be Christmas. It is what we have been waiting for since sometime before Thanksgiving. Decorations slowly were slipped into department stores around Halloween and Christmas aisles were set up. As Black Friday inched closer, Christmas ads ramped up and then – BAM! – we finished our Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas unofficially started. The mayhem of shopping, decorating homes, planning parties, rehearsing for Christmas programs and baking all those delicious goodies commenced. The hustle and bustle of the season has worn many people down, yet, at least for me, it has been a good tired. The calendar may say that Christmas is almost over but know this – It is NEVER over.

Once the family Christmas gatherings end, the cleanup begins. Lights around town slowly come down and there is almost a depressing quality to the whole process. The festival atmosphere slowly gives way to the dreariness of winter. The Christmas music ends. The bright Christmas cheer fades. Life returns to a sense of normalcy. But why does this have to happen?

Yes, I understand the lights and decorations coming down but why end the Christmas cheer? Why the embracing of the winter doldrums? Christmas is not a secular holiday that shows up on the calendar. It is not just an excuse for an extended family vacation. Christmas is the Good News of a Savior being born for you and for me. Christmas is the love of God blasting its way into the world through the humblest of means. Christmas in a word: JESUS. And let me tell you something, Jesus NEVER ends.

For centuries, Jews were waiting for a Messiah to come. Isaiah, Malachi and other prophets foretold his arrival. John the Baptist appeared and prepared the way of the Lord. Then Jesus appeared in a big way. He performed miracle after miracle but most notably, Jesus was crucified and then rose from the dead for the forgiveness of sins – your sins. Jesus now reigns and lives forever, and since that is the case, how can we say Christmas ends? Christmas does not end, just the decorations, music and presents. The Spirit of Christmas, however, is year-round and the Good News of Christmas is eternal.

I encourage you this Christmas to find a church that faithfully proclaims this Good News – the Word of God – for the true joy of Christmas is only found through the Love that came down at Christmas time. The true joy of Christmas is only found in Jesus. Don’t get caught up in all the secular hype but get caught up in the Holy Spirit through faithful preaching of the Word. With that, I invite you to check out Living Word this Christmas (see the accompanying ad). If that doesn’t work for you then stop by our website and you can watch/listen to the sermons.

May the joy of the Christ child fill you with peace this Christmas season and beyond. To God be the glory, always and forever. Amen.

Adventing Explained

The following is an article I submitted for The News Tribune of Tacoma for Saturday, December 7. The topic is something I introduced recently in a poem titled, “Adventing” ~ a new word that I have created. Here it is explained.


There are times when I do things that cause my wife to roll her eyes at me. I won’t bore you with the list, but I will share with you one such eyerolling moment. This past Sunday I coined a brand-new word: Adventing. Before you start rolling your eyes at me as well, allow me to define and explain my new word. Adventing is an active and hopeful waiting for the One (Jesus Christ) who has given true hope. You see, Last Sunday, December 1, the season of Advent began. It is a church season that takes place during the four Sundays before Christmas. It is a season of preparation and anticipation. It is a season of hope, peace, joy and love – all of which are found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet, for many, this is a season that takes on a flavor that is anything but Jesus as the god of materialism is hoisted high for all to see and worship. It reminds me of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3 who made an image of gold and demanded that the people worship it when the music played. Three defied the order: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were exiled and carried off to Babylon from Israel. They refused to worship this image of gold because God almighty was their God. Their defiance raised the ire of the king and they were thrown into the fiery furnace – in which God saved them. Today, retailers raise this “image of gold” but need not make any demands. People are more than willing to worship and offer their sacrifices to this false god. Their places of worship are the malls and retail stores. Some hide their idolatry through online shopping. Whatever the case, many seek hope, peace, joy and love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. Their active and hopeful waiting are for things and people that only fulfill their hope, peace, joy and love for a moment.

Jesus is different. He is God’s promise from all the way back to Genesis 3. Immediately following the Fall and before God confronted Adam and Eve with their curse, God cursed the serpent in verse 15. He said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” That is the first proclamation of the Gospel. This is talking about Jesus, through whom we are reconciled to God. He was born, died on a cross and then rose from the grave for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus crushed Satan’s head as he was bruised through his death. And now, through faith, we wait for Jesus to return to bring believers home – back to the Garden where it all began – and this time forever.

Today, Adventing is living your faith in Jesus out loud for all to see in hopeful expectation that Jesus is coming again. Not hoping as in wishing for something, but confidence because if God promises something, it will happen. May your Adventing be for the right person – Jesus Christ – for he alone has been raised up for all to see. To God be the glory. Amen.


[I have the privilege of submitting articles for The News Tribune the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. To God be the glory!]

Moving

The following is my new article for The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA). It talks about our (Living Word Lutheran Church) move to our newly purchased building (our first building). We are very excited around here and can hardly wait to start serving the Kingdom in our new community.


I greatly dislike packing and moving. Can I get an Amen? Maintaining the status quo is so much easier and less painful, but in many cases, it has to be done and so you do it. Before you start, it doesn’t look too bad but as you get going it doesn’t seem like you are making any progress. Boxes pile up and then more and more items seem to just appear that needs to be packed. And then there is the moving part. Loading the trailer/vehicle and transporting, and then the unpacking. In the process of all of this there is often a cleaning out and throwing away as you discover items you don’t need. In the end, once everything is unpacked and settled, there is a transformation and a new beginning. The pain of the packing and moving is gone and now you enjoy the newness of where you are.

The congregation I serve, Living Word Lutheran Church, is now in the process of packing and moving to our new home on 269th Street East, just off Meridian in Graham. I am excited about our move, but I still need to pack and get it done. My back is already hurting just thinking about it. But I would never think or suggest that the pain is not worth it for I know, once we are settled, our new beginning will be off and running. A transformation of sorts will take place for we will never be the same again. You see, we are not really moving but rather planting a new church in Graham. New in so many ways and I can hardly wait to see what God is up to.

If you are in the area and looking for a new church home, come and check us out. We hope to be worshiping out there before Christmas. But don’t get me wrong, this congregation is not setting up a clubhouse that you must join, but rather we are setting up a mission center, a home base as it were, to advance the Kingdom of God in Graham. We are not looking for members but rather looking to create disciples for the Kingdom. After all, Jesus never commissioned the disciples to, Go therefore and make members of all nations. As Christians, we are to be about making disciples who make disciples and so on. Members of clubs/organizations come and go, but disciples of Jesus are forever.

So, with that mind set, I am excited about packing and moving, even though I will need a couple extra chiropractor visits after it is all done. I am excited about setting up our mission center and then going out into the community to witness our faith to people. Through it all, may God be glorified, praised and worshiped, through Christ Jesus our Lord. With that, can I get an Amen? Amen.

Words

The following is the article I submitted for the church page in The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) for today, October 19. So here you go…


Words matter and therefore it behooves us to think about them carefully. They carry various meanings and paint descriptive pictures. And those meanings can change in a heartbeat depending on the context and whatever situation in which a person finds themselves. I think that is one of the reasons why I have developed a love for writing. I may not be the best at it, and it is definitely difficult at times, but I still enjoy it. And it is supposed to be hard because words are so complex. Thus, it is always wise to consider your words before speaking or writing. Sometimes the situation calls for immediate words, but when necessary, consider them carefully before letting them flow out.

Over the last couple years, I have developed a passion for writing poetry. The poems may not be the kind you would find in a best-selling poetry book, but I still enjoy it. I am not sure how I got started. Maybe a limerick came to mind and I started playing with it. Whatever the case, I enjoy wrestling with words and crafting them together, like an artist choosing colors and shades to unveil a scene that captures the attention of a person. I have also learned new words along the way that convey a meaning better than words I have normally used – just one of the fun side-effects to writing. But there is another fun side-effect – one that has led me to write this article.

When I write, I am usually writing about my relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The side-effect is that as I am contemplating word choices, I am thinking more deeply about my relationship with God, what that means and how to better paint that picture. I find myself swimming in a sea of words and searching for the right ones to share. No word is random but purposely chosen – guided by the Holy Spirit – for the glory of God.

That’s great, pastor, but why do I care about this? That’s a great question, I thought you might ask that 😊

You see, writing has become a lost art. How many times have you sent an email that you wished you could unsend? How about social media? How many posts and/or tweets have you published out of frustration and/or anger. Maybe the words sounded good in your head, but you failed to consider the other person or the context. As a Christian, have your words glorified God? We often write and speak without thinking about our words and how people are receiving them. I encourage you to think deeply about your words. Engage in the discipline of writing when it comes to your prayer life. Write your prayers out and think about the words, but more importantly, what it means that, through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, you have eternal life. The depth of God’s grace is so massive that a myriad of word combinations would fail to scratch the surface of God’s magnificence, but wow, how fun it is try. Let us consider our words – carefully- not just with God, but with one another. To God be the glory. Amen.

Band-aids and Tumors

The following is an article I wrote for The News Tribune (TNT) of Tacoma for Saturday, August 17. I submit articles for their church page each 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. This one was inspired by the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. We have a serious issue in this country and world, but it is not what many are talking about.

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With my kids getting older and more active they are collecting more and more skinned knees, cuts and scrapes. When injuries occur, we give them the necessary TLC and, of course, a band-aid. It makes no difference if there is bleeding or not, they want a band-aid. It’s amazing really, the power of the band-aid. As soon as it is applied, something magical seemingly happens. The tears begin to stop, and they are ready to go back to their previous activity. Obviously, I would never use this treatment on a more severe injury such as a broken bone. That requires more intensive intervention and professional help. To slap a band-aid on a serious issue is short-sighted and irresponsible. If only the world would take this truth to heart.

Recently, this county has mourned, yet again, more mass shootings. Both horrific events that have affected the lives of many for years to come. But along with these tragic events comes political grand-standing, finger-pointing and empty promises that have no hope of healing the problem. Just peruse social media after such an event and you will quickly see and read the rhetoric. It is sickening and sad to see how people don’t understand what the deeper, more severe issue really is. Simply applying a band-aid won’t help, yet that is what continues to be suggested, even demanded. Now before you think that I am going on a political gun control rant, allow me to put you at ease.

I don’t discuss politics.

The issue we are facing with this country is not a simple knee scrape that can be healed with Neosporin and a band-aid. What we are facing is a fast-growing tumor that needs professional help. Guns are not the issue but rather the heart. We are sinners and thus if you take the guns away, sinners will just find other ways to mass kill people. The band-aids that politicians are suggesting will only make them look good for a short time, but then other band-aids will need to be applied, after more finger pointing and blaming. It is a never-ending, vicious cycle.

So, what’s the solution, pastor?
Great question, thanks for asking.

The solution is Jesus. It begins with the Church faithfully preaching the Word of God instead of the social justice garbage that many proclaim as gospel truth. It begins in the home with mom’s and dad’s providing a loving, stable and safe environment for their kids; not allowing video games and the media to serve as their nanny. It begins with leaders rallying people together to heal, dialog and seek the will of God, rather than fighting and finger-pointing their way to prominence.

People, we have a vicious tumor. And if we don’t deal with it, it will eat us alive. We need to put away the band-aids and seek Jesus, the Great Physician. We need to come together instead of building walls. We need to humble ourselves and toss away our agendas. The only hope that we have is Jesus. Period. Seek him and find healing. Amen.