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.

Light and Dark

The following is my most recent article that I wrote for the Tacoma News Tribune. A couple years ago, I was invited to submit articles twice a month (1st and 3rd Saturdays) for their church page. It has been a joy to do this and an amazing outreach opportunity. These articles are also linked on my congregation’s website which you can see on the left hand side of this page. To God be the glory.

One of my favorite activities as a child was playing night games with my friends. What this usually entailed was two teams of kids: the good guys and the bad guys. The premise was for the good guys to catch the bad guys and put them in jail. I loved being a bad guy. Maybe that’s because it speaks to our innate sinful nature to love the darkness. Whatever the case, as the bad guys, light was bad. We had to operate in the dark in order to conceal our motives. Whether it was hiding from the good guys or trying to break our fellow bad guys out of jail, we stayed in the shadows. The good guys, though, were not afraid of the light and thus they operated in the light. Funny, we had no idea then that we were living out a theological truth straight from the Word of God.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” [John 3:19–21 (ESV)]

Why do I share this story? Our world operates much in the same way. In order to conceal the truth, people have to operate in the darkness. Let’s use the abortion debate for an example. What we hear in the media or from those who are pro-choice is something along these lines: “It is alright to terminate/end the pregnancy of a woman in order to preserve/save her life.” When actually, what’s being said is, “It is alright to kill a baby for the sake of a woman’s health (physical or mental).” An unspeakable evil is being sanitized (kept in the dark) and equated with a medical procedure to promote the health of a woman. And who isn’t in favor of a medical procedure to save a life? But no one is going to talk about killing a baby because most people agree that killing is wrong. Therefore, abortion has to be sanitized because, consider this: The same people that support abortion also reject capital punishment.

Now, if you think I am getting too political, read these words from the prophet Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…” [Isaiah 5:20 ESV]

I am not being political. I am being biblical. You see, we must speak the truth in the light, not in order to win an argument but to save the souls of those residing in the darkness. We need to speak the truth in love, not hate. We need to shine a light in order to snuff out sin. We need to turn the Light on through our words and deeds. I am not being political. I am shining a light. This is not about trying to catch the “bad guys”. This is about the Truth and the salvation of souls. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Other Articles

Some of you know this but others of you may not, but I write other stuff that doesn’t get posted here…but that’s now changing 🙂

A couple years ago I was given the opportunity to submit faith-based articles to the Puyallup Herald newspaper on a monthly basis. Eventually that transitioned to twice a month in the Tacoma News Tribune (TNT). It’s an incredible outreach opportunity and I give thanks and praise to God that I get to do this. I have a supportive congregation that encourages me. I have an amazing proofreader that checks every article I write before it’s submitted. As long as the TNT let’s me submit articles, I will keep writing them. God is indeed doing something here.

Currently, I submit articles for publication every 1st and 3rd Saturday. The following week, those articles posted on our church web page. On the left hand side of this  blog, I have added a link to that web page…just in case you want to read more from me. I am not bragging but giving God the glory for empowering me to write.

So NOW…”other stuff” I have written is posted here.

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 -|—

Men, Enough is Enough

The following is my latest article in the Tacoma News Tribune, published on Saturday, Nov 18…

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:27]

Please indulge me as I go on a little rant. Ever since accusations of sexual misconduct began to surface involving Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, accusations from various other women have surfaced left and right. You can’t login onto social media or turn on the news without hearing about someone else coming forward. Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming these women, but rather I am embarrassed for men in general. This is not right and we, men, need to step up and do something. We need to say something and raise the bar for the next generation. There is something definitely missing in people to cause them to think that it is okay to treat people as just sexual objects to satisfy one’s own desires. I am not saying I am a model man; “Look at me and see perfection”, but something needs to change in this culture. Something has to give.

Treating people as something less than what God created them to be is a sin. God created men AND women in His own image; both equally precious in His sight. Men and women are both equally loved and loveable. They are created for a purpose but not for the purpose of being abused or harassed or treated as an object. I imagine God, the Father, being saddened to see His daughters (women) treated like this. For men to treat women like an object is to disobey the creational purpose of God. God created men and women and then brought them together in marriage. Through marriage, God is putting the relationship of Christ (bridegroom) and the Church (bride) on display. Ephesians 5 says, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Sexual abuse and harassment of women is so contrary to God’s purpose for men and women. Godly men ought to be angered and offended to see and hear other men acting so immature and irresponsibly. Godly men need to stand up and say, “No more!” Godly men need to be shaken to the core and be determined, more than ever, to be godly examples to our sons and to the rest of this world. Godly men need to teach our daughters what it looks like to be treated with respect. Godly men need to take the reins and write a new narrative for our culture; that harassment and abuse of women is no longer welcomed. Men, let’s be the men God created us to be and glorify God through our example. Let’s take back our godly roles.

Rant done. All praise be to God. Amen.

The (feisty) Pastor -|—