Ascribe

Holy God, loving Father,
You anointed Jesus in the Jordan River
and proclaimed him Your beloved Son,
but all too often I overlook this very important fact;
that Jesus is not just your Son
but Your Son who died as the
perfect,
spotless lamb
for the atonement of our sins.
May I be drawn into an ever deeper understanding
of the divine nature of our Lord and Savior,
so much so,
that I ascribe to You what is due Your holy name;
for to see and know Jesus
is to see and know You.
All glory, strength and honor
be ascribed unto You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus my Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

The Reason for Christmas

Holy Father,
As we inch ever closer to Christmas,
we are reminded that the point of all our preparations is
to worship our Savior,
Jesus,
who was born to die for us.
Many have suggested that Christmas has nothing to do with death,
but without the death and resurrection of Jesus,
we are left with nothing;
no hope,
no peace,
no JOY.
May the JOY of the Advent season fill our lives
so much so,
that Jesus radiates from us
and therefore brings You glory.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

JOY

Holy God,
we are ever reminded that
the JOY of this season is not found in
gifts
or food
or decorating.
Our JOY is not in
stuff
or vacations
or even in our families.
True and unending
JOY is found only in
Jesus;
something that can not be taken away
by anything
or anyone
of this world.
May that JOY overflow in abundance
that you may be glorified through our lives.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

#WriteAHappyStoryIn4Words

The title of this post was a trending hashtag topic on Twitter on Dec 6. If you don’t understand hashtags it is basically a topic that people are talking about. If it is “trending” then lots of people are talking about it.

I saw the hashtag and my imagination started running wild. I posted a few and then sat and “daydreamed” more…

[this may sound like I am being lazy but pastoral day-dreaming can actually be very hard work];

…turning this into a devotional exercise. I then decided to group them all together to share with a wider audience.

[see, I am working]

So here are my “happy stories”; all using just 4 words.

[with a little commentary thrown in for good measure]

Feel free to leave a comment and share your “happy story” here.

[I don’t recommend doing the “pastoral day-dreaming” at work if you are not a pastor :-)]

Jesus IS coming back
Death has no power
Jesus is Lord forever
Me weak, Jesus strong ~ I know, I know, sounds caveman-like, but you get my point.
Jesus wins, I win
Jesus knocked Satan out ~ A little violent but hey, it’s Satan getting hit.
God is in control ~ Cliché? Maybe, but this still holds true.
Jesus died FOR YOU
Jesus is alive, ALLELUIA
God first loved you
God is our refuge
The Light shatters darkness ~ Notice the captial “L”
God’s Word is forever
You are not alone ~ Taken out of context this can actually be scary, so let’s stay focused 🙂
Jesus good, Satan bad ~ I used to have a t-shirt with this on it.
Jesus is the reason ~ (for the season), This may be borderline cheating.
Thy will be done

I thought of more, but of course it was while I was driving home yesterday and then I forgot when I got home (that’s what I get for starting a post one day and finishing it the next). Grrrr… In any case, feel free to add your stories for there are many more. Happy day dreaming 🙂

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 -|—

Something Different

I did something different last night.

Last night was Thanksgiving Eve worship. The service itself was pretty straight forward; nothing out of the ordinary. We did accept non-perishable food items as part of the offering, but that’s not weird; especially for Thanksgiving. The “different” happened during the “Prayers of Thanksgiving”; the spot where, on Sunday, the bulletin reads, “Prayers of the Church”. On Sundays I simply lead those prayers by ending each petition with “Lord in your mercy”, to which the congregation responds, “Hear our prayer”. Last night, though, I did something different.

[What is it already? Stop beating around the bush!]
[Easy now, I’m getting to it.]

During the “Prayers of Thanksgiving” I explained that I was going to start and then let the congregation add what they are thankful for. It was going to be like what many families do at Thanksgiving; going around the table sharing what they are thankful for, much to the chagrin of many children.

[Hurry up, I want some pumpkin pie]

I finished my part of the prayer and was blown away by what happened next. People didn’t just name something they were thankful for, but rather they prayed a prayer, giving thanks and praise to God. The Prayers of Thanksgiving turned into a genuine Prayers of the Church or Prayers of the People. I mean, that’s how it is supposed to be, right? People prayed from their heart. I almost felt bad ending the prayers when I did. We could have gone on for quite a while. People offered up a variety of prayers but the overwhelming topic of the prayers was Jesus and the salvation we have through him. Kind of puts Thanksgiving into perspective, doesn’t it?

Sure, I am thankful for my wife and children. I am thankful for my home and clothes and food on my table. I am thankful for my health and ability to earn a living. Those things are great and I thank God for them. Most of all, though, is the blessing of all blessings: Jesus. Period. For without him, everything else is just stuff that will fade away.

And now, I hope “the different” that happened last night becomes “the norm” for future worship services; people praying the prayers of the church. The people offering their petitions. Yes, I going to do that “different” thing again. So get ready, Living Word, your pastor is going to change some things up 🙂

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever. [Psalm 136:1-3]

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving; giving Him all your thanks and praise; for His steadfast loves endures forever and ever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Jesus Lives, AMEN

Death is the great equalizer,
for no one is immune,
and death is the great divider,
for some are not attuned.
For Jesus conquered this enemy
and shattered its mighty power,
therefore some will be on his right,
and others will be left to cower.

Death still runs wild,
threatening to devour.
Death still strikes blows,
trying to exert it’s power.
But Jesus lives and reigns,
thus I will live too.
So take your best shot, Death,
for you will be left the fool.

So when Death comes a knocking,
to claim another life,
just shrug him off with a smirk,
knowing that he is not right.
For my Lord has won the victory,
thus I will live again.
Death can have its moment now,
but Jesus lives, AMEN!

The Pastor -|—