Heart and Soul

The following is the most recent article I submitted to The News Tribune (Tacoma). To God be the glory.


On Sunday, NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others, lost their lives in a tragic helicopter crash near Los Angeles. The news caught my attention even though I was never a Lakers fan. You see, there was just something about watching Kobe that produced a sense of awe in how he played. He was a unique individual with a unique talent. He entered the league at the young age of 17 and made an immediate impact – winning 5 championships. His talent was off the charts. His competitive drive inspired a generation. His will to win was unmatched. Following his untimely death on Sunday, people began mourning over Kobe – many of whom had never met him but were inspired by him. Though he made his share of mistakes, people are not soon going to forget the name: Kobe Bryant. But this is just the beginning of my concern for this generation, and I say this with all due respect.

My concern stems from a comment I heard him say in an interview that was aired during a tribute to him on Sunday night. The comment was this: “I gave my heart and soul to the game of basketball.” Let that sink in for a moment. Some may say that there is nothing wrong with that – that he just gave it his all during his career – and that he did. You see, I am not claiming I know the status of his eternity. Only God knows that. I read a blog post that said Kobe was a devout Catholic, but I don’t know his heart. What I am trying to say is that I am concerned about a generation who believes that giving their “heart and soul” to anything of this world is a good thing. I came across a quote on Twitter recently from a respected theologian that said – “If you don’t live for Jesus you will live for something else. Will those things be enough? Will they die for you?” Now let that sink in for a moment. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

I say all of this because, for me, I gave my heart and soul to the one who died for me – Jesus Christ. Why? Because I am a sinner and nothing of this world can save me. No amount of intelligence, money, fame, popularity, prestige or strength matters when death comes calling. And when death does come, it does not discriminate. But, if you belong to Jesus, death is just a doorway: sin, death and the power of Satan have been defeated by Jesus Christ through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. As a sinner, you are unable to save yourself.

My hope and prayer is that Kobe’s statement was just that – a statement of how hard he played the game. I also pray, that if you have not given your heart and soul to Jesus, that you will look deep within and see the mess that you are, and then see the beauty and grace of Jesus. Give your heart and soul to the One who keeps your heart and soul for all eternity. Amen.

Magnify Your Song

Let us join our song together in praising our awesome God…

Holy God and Father, it is right to give You thanks and praise at all times, in all places and in all circumstances. Yes, it is always right to give You thanks and praise. For You are sovereign over the heavens and the earth. You are the Creator. You reign on high – high above all gods. You are our Rock. You are our Fortress. Through Jesus Christ, You are our salvation. Oh God, praise and worship is indeed befitting You. Our souls sing for joy at the mere thought of You. Holy and mighty God you are glorious and thus we long to magnify our song by joining with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

May our song of praise to God never, ever diminish.

Desire

Let us praise and worship our awesome God.
Written for the Great Thanksgiving in our Holy Communion liturgy…


To give You thanks and praise, oh God, is indeed our delight, for through Jesus Christ, You have fulfilled our deepest desire. Our desire is to live life to the fullest and that cannot be done outside of You. You have redeemed us from sin and death. You have filled us with Your Spirit. You have defeated every enemy. You have placed us upon the Rock. Oh God, our Father and Creator, our Strong Fortress and Shield, our Hope and Salvation. Draw us closer and closer that we may delight more and more in You. And on that Day, may we be taken up into the loving arms of our bridegroom, Jesus Christ. And so, in our joy that is only from You, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

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.

Let Us Ascribe

It is Sunday.

The Lord’s day.

Let’s us join together – raising our hands to God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord…

Yes, oh yes, it is right and our duty and our joy to ascribe worship, praise and glory to You, oh Lord, our Rock and Redeemer. You are full of majesty. You are full of power. And You reign on high. You sent Jesus to live and die and rise for us – that we would have the hope of everlasting life. There is so much to You, oh God. To probe Your depths would be a never-ending task, but oh the joy in trying. And so, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

Bless the Lord, oh my Soul and all that is within me. Bless His most holy name!

Child-Like Praying

Holy God, it is not long, beautiful, poetic words that impress You or are more effective, but rather prayers that come from the heart of one who trusts You. It is like a child coming up to their mommy or daddy asking for a glass of water and fully expecting to receive it. They trust their parents. May I, Your child, learn to come to You as my holy daddy – opening my heart and humbling myself before You in the name of Jesus – trusting that You will give to me as You see best. May this great privilege of prayer not become routine or rote. May it be an intimate time with You. May I never take it for granted or view it as a to-do list item. May prayer be the very air I breath. And so, with that in mind – my holy daddy – hear and receive my prayer…

~ Give our nation’s leaders wisdom so they won’t act stupid.
~ Give our nation’s leaders a heart of compassion so they won’t be mean.
~ Put out the fires in Australia and protect those who are fighting them.
~ There are a lot of homeless people. Please help them.
~ May church leaders teach and preach the Bible correctly.
~ May people in the church forgive one another and work together.
~ Help me be strong and not afraid to tell Satan to go back to hell.
~ Protect our men and women serving in the military.
~ Those who are sick, please heal them.
~ Those who are hurt, help them feel better.
~ Help me to talk about Jesus with those who don’t know him.
~ Please help the United States and Iran get along.
~ Please help Democrats and Republicans get along.
~ Please help me get along with people I don’t like or who are mean to me.
~ Please help me be a better pastor.
~ Please help me be a better daddy.
~ Please help me be a better husband.
~ Bless each and every member of the congregation I serve.
~ Bless LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ).
~ Thank you for our police, fire fighters, paramedics, first responders and other emergency personnel. Bless them as they protect and take care of us.
~ Bless my children. Continue to help them grow to know you.
~ Bless my wife. Continue to shape her into the godly woman, mother and wife You want her to be.
~ Give me better eyes to see You and give me better ears to hear You.
~ May I never lose my child-like faith.

There is more on my heart, but You already know that. And so here you go.
I know You hear ALL of my prayers.
I know You respond to ALL of my prayers.
I know You never dismiss my prayers as silly or stupid.
Oh God, my heaven daddy, I love You and want to know You better. As You respond to my prayers give me the faith to see that I may draw closer to You and give You the glory. You are awesome!

Well, that is all for now. I’ll talk to you soon 🙂

In Jesus name I pray,

Amen.

It Is So Right

Psalm 122:1 (ESV) ~ I was glad when they said to me,“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”


Oh God, it is so right and salutary. It is indeed our joy and privilege to give you thanks and praise at all times and in all places – in every moment and with every breath. You are worthy. You are so worthy for You have given us a King to reign over us that we may never fear anything or anyone. You have given us a Savior who has saved our very souls. You have given us a Shepherd to feed and nourish us. You have given us a place at Your Banquet Feast – a place of honor – so we may longingly and lovingly perpetually gaze our eyes upon You. Yes, oh God, yes, it is right and our joy to worship You. And so, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise.