Uncomprehended

I just cannot comprehend –
Holy that you are –
that you would save
A sinner such as me,
You, the Creator of the land, sky and sea.

But it is me that you redeem,
Through Jesus Christ my Lord.
It is me that you redeem,
Forever I am adored.

So instead of wasting time,
Trying to comprehend,
To You my praise will ring,
To You it will ascend.

Glory in the Cross

Oh, in the cross of Christ I glory,
For it tells my salvation story.
A sinner,
dead,
lost,
and condemned;
floundering,
here and there,
and going nowhere.
Seeking pleasure,
worth,
all here on earth.
Striving after wind,
and Breath,
and gaining only death.
But on the cross my Savior died,
taking all my sin,
this life,
my strife.
Then Jesus rose from death for me,
taking all my self,
my soul
now whole.
And now I live, I mean, really live,
a life unending,
all transcending.
For, now its Jesus,
only Jesus,
now and forever,
He will never sever.
And so I’ll glory in the cross of Christ.
Oh Jesus my Lord,
it’s you I adore.

Confession in the Morn

I rise in the morn and raise my prayer,
Seeking earnestly to clear the air.
My sins are great and many are they,
But Jesus died and for them he did pay.
He paid for my sins so lovingly.
He saved my soul so amazingly.
Redeemed am I and thus I will live.
Redeemed am I my life I will give.

Raise Your Hands

Raise your hands to the Lord,
and all that is in you.
Raise your hands to the Lord,
for He is faithful and true.
He has redeemed your life from the pit.
He has saved you from death.
The Lord is mighty to save.
So praise Him with your every breath.
In Jesus you have a new family.
In Jesus you are not cast away.
In Jesus all hope is secure.
So raise your praise on this day.
Why wait? Why wait, to praise the Lord?
For He is worthy of praise now.
Look into His Word and know,
I promise that you will say “Wow!”
Raise you hands to the Lord,
and all that is in you.
Raise your hands to the Lord,
For all praise to Him is definitely due.

My God in My Chaos

To say that my last two months have been crazy and chaotic is an under statement. Actually, my world was turned upside down and inside out. God opened doors but Satan came swooping in to trip me up (literally, in one case). My faith was challenged and my family was and has been stretched thin. But through it all, God has been my stronghold and mighty fortress. He has been my life preserver when it felt like I was drowning. God has been awesome and amazing. If only I had kept my eyes open, it would have gone so much better.

The following is a summary of the wild events that took place and the subsequent faithfulness of my God:

Sunday, June 13 ~ I received and accepted a call to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Buffalo Center, IA.

Monday, June 14 ~ I got up early in the morning as I normally do. After getting into the bathroom I became light-headed (doctors later determined I was dehydrated). I passed out and upon falling and hitting the floor, I fractured the right side of my face in three places. The next thing I remember is my wife standing over me. Thankfully she heard the thud of my fall. I spent the next 36 hours in the hospital, all in the ER as there were no regular rooms available. It was a miserable experience.

Tuesday, June 15 ~ I returned home with a dent in my face, broken facial bones and swelling. I was on a no sneezing or blowing my nose restriction. Let me tell you, that was no picnic for a guy with allergies. Two hours after returning home, I attended the scheduled council meeting at Living Word Lutheran Church and submitted my resignation. This had been the plan since Sunday, just not my hospital stay.

June 15 and following ~ I began sitting at home icing my broken face and beating myself up. I was thinking that I could have prevented this if only I had returned to bed or sat on the floor when I got light-headed. The guilt on my shoulders was heavy as I saw my family paying the price (at least that is how I saw it).

Sunday, June 20 ~ Not feeling very well, I lead worship and announced my resignation to the congregation. A very emotional day.

Thursday, June 24 ~ I had my pre-op appointment and got scheduled for surgery. This was also the beginning of four dark days for me. Because of the fall, my back arthritis was exasperated causing me a great deal of pain. The weird thing was that it took just over a week to flare up. I would eventually end up on crutches. And to make matters worse, the one thing that would have alleviated my pain – Advil – I could not take because of my up coming surgery. The next few days I was literally crying out to God. I am not afraid to say it, but there were a lot of tears shed.

Sunday, June 27 ~ Still in a lot of pain, I wasn’t sure how I was going to lead worship. But before even asking, a retired pastor in the congregation was already prepared to help me. A power outage, though, eventually canceled in-person worship so I got to live stream worship from the comforts of my couch.

Monday, June 28 (9 AM) ~ What a way to start my first day of vacation – a broken face and surgery looming. But first things first, I had one more chiropractor appointment before surgery. Upon returning home from that appointment, I was in so much back pain I could barely step up into my house. There was more crying out and more tears.

June 28 (12:30 PM) ~ We left for Seattle for surgery, but more importantly, God alleviated my back pain.

June 28 (2 PM) ~ I checked in for surgery. It was supposed to be a 1 1/2 hour procedure to have one small titanium plate put into my face. When they got in there, though, they found more bone fragments than expected and had to put in a bigger plate and an additional L-shaped plate. Four hours later I was in recovery and returned home later that night.

Tuesday, June 29 and following ~ (remember, I’m on vacation) Because of my recovery we had to cancel our annual family vacation back to the Midwest. There was much sadness over that (and some tears). And, I felt incredibly guilty as I was still blaming myself.

Sunday, August 1 ~ I presided over my final worship service at Living Word Lutheran Church. Another very emotional day.

Monday, August 2 ~ I had my third and final post-op appointment and my doctor was extremely pleased and impressed with my recovery. Some of the numbness had gone away which surprised her.

Now:
I’m Iron Man (my wife is rolling her eyes someplace) and feeling much better. I still have some numbness in my face due to the crushed nerve from my fall, but I am getting more and more feeling back. It could be a year or more before all the feeling is back (if it ever does come back). My back is much better but still gets stiff if I over do it. All in all, I am returning to more and more normal activities and for that I praise God.

Why am I writing all of this:
I say all of this to glorify God because, after all, He is awesome.
It is HIM who sustained me and my family during this chaos.
It is HIM who kept me grounded.
It is HIM who brought me healing.
I could not have kept my sanity and my faith if it were not for my amazing, awesome and faithful God. And those dark moments days before surgery — yes, they were scary and awful. I thought I was abandoned and left alone to suffer, but that was not the case. I was never alone. I simply had my eyes closed and did not see my Father standing there with His arms wide open. I wish I had opened my eyes, but now I know. I know for certain. My Father will never leave me.

Chaos, suffering, pain in one’s life is not the absence of God. It is a result of the sinfulness of our world. The Good News is that God has overcome the sin of this world and has redeemed you and me through Jesus Christ. I was never alone. YOU are never alone. Through Jesus I have the victory. Through Jesus YOU have the victory. I am a child of God. Through Jesus YOU are a child of God. In your suffering, open your eyes and see. Your Father is there.

So there you have it — to God be ALL the glory!

Amen!

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.

So You Are

A mother cradling her newborn baby.
A hen spreading her wings over her brood.
A father’s provision for his family.
A king’s army guarding the city wall.

So You are to me,
O God.
So You are to me.
For,

Without You I am vulnerable and dead,
But in Jesus I am victorious.
Without faith You are hidden and ordinary,
But in Jesus You are glorious.
My Life.
My love.
My everything.

A rock solid foundation.
A fiercely strong and mighty warrior.
A tender hand and warm embrace
A grace-filled and merciful Lord.

So You are to me,
O God.
So You are to me.

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.

Without Ceasing

Holy God,
my prayer rises to You in the morning,
and at the noontide.
My prayer rises to you in the evening,
and as my eyes close to hide.
I can come to You in any moment.
though I am thoroughly unclean.
I need to come you in Jesus,
for my sin is not unseen.

You have commanded me to pray without ceasing,
You have commanded me to run to You.
You have commanded me raise my petitions.
All glory to you is due.

And You command me so because,
well,
You love me.
You want fellowship with me.
You want me to draw closer to You.
You desire me – a sinner.

Through Jesus I am forgiven.
Through Jesus I am Yours.
Through Jesus I have hope.
Through Jesus Your love ensures.

Father Almighty and Holy God,
draw me closer for I want more of
You.
In Jesus holy and awesome name I pray –
continually,
Amen.