Worship Prayers ~ Hear My Prayer

Father God,
Lord of heaven and earth,
King of all creation,
Redeemer and Sustainer,
I praise Your great name.
You are worthy of all worship and then infinitely more.
Your great name is holy and therefore I seek honor it.
Your majesty is awesome, it leaves me speechless.
You reign on high and know every last star,
every grain of sand,
and every hair on my head.
You know all of this and yet You know the desires, joys and sorrows of my heart,
and not only know them
but deeply care about every last one.
O God,
I give You thanks and come before You with my prayer,
knowing that You hear me and give according to Your perfect and holy will.
You give me daily bread
and sustain me for Your glory.
And so here I am, O God in the name of Jesus.
Lord in You mercy,
Hear my prayer…

Worship Prayers ~ Your Church

Creator God,
through Your Holy Spirit
You knit Your people together,
and thus I take great comfort that Jesus is the head of the Church
and not sinful people.
You raise up leaders and provide for the Church
that we may glorify You in this dark world.
No one person is indispensable.
No one person carries the Body of believers on their own.
It is You and only You.
And since this is true,
create in Your Church a greater faith and confidence that,
though things may change over time,
You are always in control.
It is about Your will being done.
It is all about You.
O God,
hear my prayer in the name of Jesus my Lord and Savior,
Amen.

Worship Prayers ~ Pandemic

Sovereign God,
so many people have been impacted by this ongoing pandemic.
Families are stressed.
People are out of work.
Small businesses are fighting to stay open.
Students are struggling with the uncertainties surrounding
school,
sports,
and extra-curricular activities.
All of this take a toll, not just on those individuals, but on all people.
O God,
bring healing and restoration to this world
on such a scale that people have no choice but
to attribute it to your mighty and gracious hand,
thus giving You the glory.
Give hope to the hopeless.
Give strength to the weak.
Give resources to the depleted.
Give healing to the broken.
Give Life to Your people.
O God, hear my prayer in the name of Jesus my Lord,
Amen.

Sunday Newspaper Article ~ Kindness and Honesty

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


Has our culture become so unaccustomed to kindness and honesty that when we see or experience it, we have no idea how to respond or what to make of it? Allow me to share with you a case in point.

On Tuesday night my Dad called me to share a story about something he experienced recently. He went to a grocery store in Sun City West, AZ; one that he and my Mom frequent. There was an item on sale that he liked so he decided to get a couple of them along with a couple other items they needed – four items in total. The checkout person rang them up, my Dad paid for them and he went home. After arriving at home, he was looking at the receipt and noticed that only three of the items were rung up. This did not sit well with him. So, a couple days later he was back at that same grocery store, this time standing in line at Customer Service with that incomplete receipt. Normally people go to Customer Service to return/exchange an item or complain about something. I am sure there are other things but those seem to me to be the most popular. After standing in line for just over 30 minutes, my Dad handed his receipt to the gentleman behind the counter and explained the problem. The man looked confused at which time my Dad asked, “You haven’t seen this a whole lot, have you?” The man replied, “I have never seen this”. Soon, the man’s co-worker, came over and asked if there was a problem. My Dad proceeded to explain, again, the problem. The young lady also looked confused. The two customer service agents then proceeded to discuss this among themselves. The man behind the counter soon returned to my Dad and handed the receipt back saying, “Thank you for your honesty, but we don’t know how to handle this so here you go. You can go home.” A little dumbfounded, my Dad left. They would not take his money.

I thanked my Dad for the story but later started thinking about it and I became troubled. Was it really that hard to ring that item up and collect that money from my Dad? Really, they have never seen this kind of honesty before? I see a lot of unkindness across social media and in the news as they portray the dealings with our government. It appears kindness and honesty are just words we throw around and lecture people about, but when it comes to actually putting those words into practice, people are confused when they see it. What if kindness and honesty was not rare? As a follower of Jesus there are times I drop the ball on showing kindness. That receipt of my Dad’s? That has happened to me and I did not return to the store. God, help me be more like Jesus. Help me show kindness and honesty in all situations, so much so, that a ripple effect is started that makes kindness and honest no longer a rare sight. Oh God, help me to glorify you, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Worship Prayers ~ Redeemed

Father God,
You have redeemed me through the blood of the Lamb,
Jesus Christ Your dear Son.
You have set me free from the grip of sin and death.
You have given me the hope of the resurrection unto eternal life.
And thus,
You have given me a new story.
The old one has been done away with – crucified with the old Adam.
I have much in which to be thankful.
May this story be the one I joyfully live and share.
May it radiate from my very pores.
May it ooze out of every nook and cranny of my life,
so much so,
that people may see You in my good works, words and deeds
and give glory to You through Christ Jesus my Lord.
May the hope You have given me continue to draw me closer and closer to You;
transforming me more and more
into the likeness of Your dear Son;
my Savior.
O God,
hear my prayer in the name of Jesus,
Amen.

Never Done

Good morning and Happy New Year 🙂

It is that time – my Sunday article for The News Tribune (Tacoma) is due to be published this morning, so that is what you will see below. To God be the glory!


Merry 10th day of Christmas (on this 3rd day of January) and Happy New Year. I hope and pray that you had a wonderful Christmas, even amid this pandemic, and I also hope and pray that your 2021 will be filled with joy and peace; a joy and peace that only comes through Jesus Christ our Lord. But let us get back to Christmas, because it is still Christmas, at least for my family and me.

On the 4th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — I am just kidding — I am not going to sing. On the 4th day of Christmas (December 28) my wife and I finally got the kids away from their toys and went for a drive to look at Christmas lights. Normally at this time, we are in the Midwest and in Arizona celebrating Christmas with our families. This year, due to the pandemic, we had to stay home but decided we would make the most of it. Our HOA and many neighborhoods around us had such wonderful Christmas light displays. So, during the time before Christmas, we spent many nights going for family walks to enjoy the lights. Now we thought we could enjoy these lights even longer.

As we toured our HOA we quickly noticed how dark it looked. Many homes had already taken down their lights or just did not turn them on. Some houses that had a Christmas tree prominently displayed in their front window had taken those down as well. We continued driving and only found a small sampling of Christmas lights. We went to another neighborhood and found the same thing. Some of our favorite displays were gone for the year. It almost felt like someone was trying to rip Christmas from our hands. For us, the festive lights were a reprieve from our pandemic-filled world. Now, it felt like darkness was trying to regain its grip. I did not like the feeling and neither did my wife. When we returned home, we noticed that half of our lights on our house were not on. “What is going on?” we thought. Thankfully, it was an easy fix and now our home is lit up again, and it will stay lit up through January 5 (the 12th day of Christmas).

Yes, the day on our calendars labeled “Christmas Day” has now passed, but Christmas is never done. The promises are not something you pack away. The light that came on that first Christmas cannot be extinguished. And more importantly, the darkness will never, ever regain its grip, for the light of the world, Jesus, has defeated the darkness and reigns on high.

Yes, the day will come when I will turn off my lights and pack them away. Our tree will come down and the decorations will be neatly stowed in their tubs. But Jesus lives and so will I. Jesus lives, and so you can too. Christmas is not over. It is never, ever over. So, I am keeping the Christmas lights on and the tree up, but more importantly I will cling to Jesus – lights or no lights. Merry Christmas, today and always. Amen.

Where Are You Christmas?

The following is my Sunday article for The News Tribune (Tacoma). This one definitely hit close to home as I reflect on Christmas and how the pandemic has changed things this year. To God be the glory!


I am beginning to accept the reality that Christmas will be different this year. I think part of the issue was that I was living in a state of denial. Can you relate to that? But I was snapped out of my fantasy world the other day, when my wife started menu planning for Christmas for just the four of us. “What?!? Wait a second, we do not menu plan for Christmas, we are supposed to be packing.” You see, normally we would be preparing for our two-week Christmas break that would take us to the Midwest (Minnesota and South Dakota), Arizona and then back here to Western Washington. It is the “Christmas triangle”, as we affectionately call it. It was quite a trip as we had to book a total of four flights to complete our family adventure. Now, we are menu planning which just does not seem right. And then this morning, I heard on the radio the song, “Where are you Christmas?” This is how it begins: “Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you? Why have you gone away? Where is the laughter, you used to bring me? Why can’t I hear music play? My world is changing. I’m rearranging. Does that mean Christmas changes too? Where are you Christmas? Do you remember, the one you used to know? I’m not the same one. See what the time’s done. Is that why you have let me go?”

That song begins with a harsh reality as Christmas will be upon us soon. And with the arrival of Christmas, another holy day celebration in the midst of a restrictive pandemic. Maybe you, too, are asking “Where are you Christmas?” So much has been taken away from us this year: Families having to settle for virtual gatherings, loved ones being isolated for their safety, church traditions being altered, and so much more. A vaccine is on the way, but the end is still a ways off. I almost do not remember what life was like before the pandemic. But with all the lamenting about what we do not have or cannot do, there is one constant that will never, ever change: God’s love for you through Jesus Christ. That is what Christmas is all about and that is something the pandemic cannot take away. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow – and forever.

Christmas has not gone anywhere. Christmas is here, every day and always. The promise of Christmas belongs to God and He has given it to you through Jesus Christ. As the song ends, “Oh, I feel you Christmas. I know I’ve found you. You never fade away, oh, The joy of Christmas, Stays here inside us, Fills each and every heart with love. Where are you Christmas? Fill your heart with love.” Cling to that truth – the truth that the promises of Christmas, through Jesus Christ, are for you every single day, pandemic or no pandemic. My friends, God loves you. Where are you Christmas? You are right here, always and forever. Merry Christmas everyone and Amen.

Advent Focus

The following is my Sunday article I wrote for The News Tribune of Tacoma for today, Dec. 6. To God be the glory!


The season of Advent is upon us. No, this is not some calendar countdown to the big “party” on December 25th when presents are exchanged, families gather, and vacations begin. This is a season of preparation as we anxiously await the coming of Jesus. Yes, Jesus was born in humble means in a dingy manger stall, but Jesus is coming again. You see, he lived upon this earth as a man. He proclaimed the Good News of God’s forgiveness, which drew the ire of the religious authorities of the day. Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons and raised the dead. Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem even though he knew what waited for him there – a cross. He was arrested, tried, convicted, beaten, mocked, spit upon, suffered, was crucified and died. And you know what? He did this all for you. That is right, the Son of God, emptied and humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2). Jesus came the first time to proclaim God’s plan of reconciliation. Jesus is coming a second time to fulfill the plan.

We so easily get distracted from the reason for the season and probably even more so this year. The pandemic has changed many plans. If you are like me, you are still trying to figure out what Christmas will look like. We are dealing with the very real possibility that we will not be traveling back to the Midwest to spend time with family this year. It was hard enough over Thanksgiving, but now Christmas. The virus does not honor that which we hold dear and sacred. And so, you can handle this in one of two ways. You can either focus your attention on the negative, or you can keep your eyes on the true meaning of the season. Do not get me wrong, I am not trying to minimize anyone’s feelings of loss, sadness, loneliness, anger or whatever you are feeling now. But we do not need to let those feelings control or define us. The virus may have taken away Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions this year, but it can not take away Jesus. Read that sentence again:

The virus may have taken away Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions this year, but it cannot take away Jesus.

Why focus and that which is not here? Focus on what is always here: God’s steadfast love for you through Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus is not just some amazing miracle we sing about in Christmas carols or put on display in our front yards, but rather, it is God’s plan of reconciliation being manifested. In a way, it is the beginning of the end. God began His plan in Genesis after sin entered the world and now Jesus is coming to complete God’s plan. And that right there is our hope. Focus on that. Think on Jesus. Keep your eyes on him. For no virus, government or health agency can shut down the coming of Jesus. So, Merry Advent everyone and praise be to God. Amen.

Destroy

Sovereign God,
holy and true,
mighty in power,
this virus is something in which we are tired of thinking and speaking,
its name is something that soils our lips when spoken.
We grow weary of its devastating effects on the world as:
Businesses are struggling,
families are stressed,
teachers are being stretched thin,
healthcare workers are tired,
people are dying,
and many are struggling with symptoms and ill-effects long after they are supposedly well.
Oh God,
I beseech You with all my heart:
Give healing to those who are sick,
strength to those who fight on the frontlines,
hope to those whose lives are turned upside down.
Holy God,
DESTROY
THIS
VIRUS.
But all of this I ask with a heart tuned towards You, in the name of Jesus, seeking Your will to be done to the glory of Your holy name,
therefore,
DESTROY
MY
FAITHLESSNESS,
and create in me a clean heart,
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The King Reigns

The following is the article I wrote for The News Tribune (Tacoma) for Sunday, November 15. To God be the glory!


The votes are in. Everything has been tabulated. A winner is clear and therefore I am going to call it: Jesus is still King and always will be. Did you think I was going all political on you? Do not worry, I am not going to leave my Lord and Savior, the King of creation. I want Him to reign over my life. I want Jesus to be my Shepherd. I want my life in the hands of the Almighty. Any other person, political party, organization, or group is just a sinful group of people who have no ability (or desire) to see the big picture. My awesome God is the creator of the big picture. Actually, He IS the big picture. Can I get an Amen?

But people have always, and continue to, desire worldly leaders to govern them. In 1 Samuel 8 the people of Israel demanded that Samuel appoint a king to rule over them. Interestingly, the people were concerned that Samuel’s sons, who would succeed him as judge over Israel, were corrupt. So, instead of Samuel’s corrupt sons, they wanted a sinful man to rule over them; one who would have even more power. And isn’t that what people want today? We see it every election cycle. People make demands for so and so to rule over them; thinking that everything will be better. And like Samuel warning the people what a king will do, we reject all the warnings and place all our hopes in that person(s).

Samuel was displeased with the people’s demand, but God reassured Samuel that they were not rejecting him, rather they were rejecting God as their King. And that right there is the issue: The rejection of God as King. So many people have placed their hopes in secular rulers. Their happiness rises and falls with them. We saw this when our current president was inaugurated in 2017 and we are seeing it again now in how many are reacting to the outcome of this election. “We want our ‘king’ and thus we will fight for him.” Jesus said to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. If it were, his followers would be fighting to save him. And that should be the reminder that slaps all Christians in the face — we serve a King whose Kingdom is not of this world. We do not have to fight for His Kingdom. God has already won the war through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His Son. His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom. Through faith in Jesus Christ, you are a child of God and thus are under His mighty and everlasting rule. Secular leaders come and go, but Jesus is forever. Do not reject him, but be at peace with God as your King.

You may not like who was elected president or the party that rules the Congress. You may not like who sits on the Supreme Court or any other court for that matter. But one thing is for sure: Jesus reigns and through faith in him, he will never reject you. Take joy in the fact that God reigns as King now and forevermore. Amen.