John 14 Sermon teaser…

The following is the opening to the sermon that I am preaching tomorrow, May 10, on John 14:1-11. The worship live stream will start at 9:30 AM (PST) on our YouTube channel (Living Word Lutheran Church – Graham, WA)


Fear has a way of rendering people paralyzed – unable to think clearly or make smart, rational decisions. When everything safe around you is threatened, the natural reaction is embedded deep in the primal part of our brain. It is the fight or flight response. We instinctively either, fight for the safe place we have – trying to restore order – or we retreat and search for another safe place. We do this without thinking or planning or evaluation. In a lot of ways this is a gift from God that enables self-preservation. For example, if I were to encounter one of those “murder hornets” that are supposedly here in Washington, I am not going to evaluate too long whether I should retreat or not. But sometimes this fight or flight response becomes a hinderance to common sense. For example, there are people in Washington holding “COVID-19 parties” – purposely exposing themselves to get it out of the way so they can return to their safe place sooner. Truth be told, there is no science to this and thus not safe for the public. And then, this fight or flight response often gets in the way of trusting God – refusing to believe or accept His promises – thus Jesus’ commands in John 14.

Yes, our safe places have been threatened, but God is still sovereign. And so, let us hear the Good News in John 14 so we can stop fighting or flighting (is that even a word?) and start trusting. Let us pray…

The Fight

Here’s my article for The News Tribune (Tacoma) published in this morning’s paper. To God be the glory.


It is hard to go through a single day without talk of this virus. There are so many news stories, many of which are conflicting. There are leaders politicizing this pandemic for personal gain. People are becoming impatient – demanding relief – demanding a return to normal. There are protests, rebellions, accusations, hatred and so much more. I am saddened to see what this is doing to our communities, nation and the world. Do not get me wrong, I do not blame God for this, but rather I am begging people to stop and drop to their knees and look to God. There are people dying. There are people losing jobs. There are businesses closing their doors. There are families struggling to hold things together. There are people putting their lives on the line. There is a personal aspect of this fight for all of us. We must never forget that, and so I pray. I give thanks each and every day. I plead with and I worship God. Join me now and let us pray…

I wake up each morning,
and I praise You with my first breath,
and I give You thanks for my many blessings.
I rejoice that You have protected me and my family,
yet another day.
But many cannot say this.
They cannot take that first breath without help.
Many people struggle to count their blessings.
Many are fighting this invisible foe so other lives can go on.
It is for them and many others,
for whom I pray.
Oh Lord…
For those who have died of this virus – I mourn.
For those fighting for their lives – I ask for healing.
For families unable to see or speak to loved ones – I ask for comfort.
For those serving on the front lines – I plead for a hedge of protection.
For each essential worker – I ask for strength and provision.
For our elected leaders – I ask for wisdom.
For medical researchers – I ask for knowledge to beat this enemy.
For our children whose lives have been turned upside down – Have mercy.
For teachers learning a new way to teach – I ask for resilience.
For the Church that has now been deployed – Please equip them.
For people struggling to pay bills – Please provide.
For small businesses on the brink – Please give hope.
For each and every moment in this fight – To You, oh God, be the glory.
Oh God, sovereign Lord and King,
In the name of Jesus Christ I pray,
Amen.

May you stay firm in this fight and continue to cry out to the Lord. As the psalmist says in Psalm 116:1-2, I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.

The Boat

The waves are monstrous,
The wind is fierce,
And my feeble little boat is no match for this storm.
I try and try, but I make no head way.
I fight and battle but continue to lose ground.
And the storm rages on.
The storm wants to lay claim to this boat –
to bring it down into the deep.
It fights and threatens.
It claws and bites,
and my feeble little boat is no match for this storm.
Jesus, where are you?!?
Wait — you are right here,
in my feeble little boat.
You are right here with me,
as the storm rages on.
Now I am at peace.
Now I can be still and know –
for nothing can touch me
as long as Jesus is in the boat with me –
in this feeble, broken down, little boat.
The storm rages on,
but it will never claim me,
not with Jesus in my boat.

Washed Clean

The following is an article I wrote for this morning’s paper in The News Tribune (Tacoma). It was something I wrote about a week ago – right when things were really ramping up for many around here with restrictions surrounding COVID-19. Living Word had just canceled the rest of our Lenten services and we were going to discuss the status of our Sunday services (which are online now). What a week it has been, but praise be to God that I am his.


No matter where you go or where you look, you will hear/read news about the COVID-19. Statistics seem to change by the minute. Country, state and county boundaries cannot stop the spread of this virus. The CDC and various state and local health agencies are working hard to keep us informed. Basic health and safety messages are being repeated, “wash your hands”, “stay home if you are sick”, “avoid large crowds”. Aggressive measures are being taken: (i.e. restricting crowd sizes, canceling events, closing schools). But no matter what we do, the virus continues its relentless march like a wall of toothpicks trying to stop a tank. We fight and fight, but the march continues. We hide ourselves away, but it still finds us.

As more and more people experience this menace invading their backyards, the fear factor is rising. “Will I or a loved one be next?”. It seems as if the only thing that can be done is to just sit and wait for the inevitable, like waiting for the invisible man, who has been stalking you, to strike.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like living in fear and therefore…

I WILL NOT!

I refuse to let this virus render me paralyzed by fear. Rather, I am going to remember who I am…

A child of God.

Through Jesus Christ and because I am a sinner: I have been redeemed, I have been claimed, I have been given a new identity, I have been given hope. Through the cross and the empty tomb, I have been given citizenship in the Kingdom of God through the forgiveness of my sins and thus I am protected by God’s holy army. No relentless viral army will touch this redeemed soul. I am His. My creator God is King and Lord. He is sovereign over this virus. He is my loving Father and Mighty Fortress. He is the Rock on which I will stand, and thus I refuse to step off. Satan is wielding this virus to strike fear into people, but I will stand and say, “My life belongs to Jesus! Back off!”

Why isn’t God destroying this virus? Why isn’t God sparing us? Why isn’t God doing something? Well, God is doing something. He’s has my attention. Does he have yours? I really don’t know what God is up to, but I do know, that when this is all said and done, God will be glorified. Why? Because God saves sinners and God is in control.

And therefore, as I repeatedly wash my hands, heeding the advice and warnings of the health professionals I will remember. I will remember that my soul has been washed clean of my sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. Every time I come in contact with water — I will remember and cling to His promises. Water will no longer be a sign, reminding me of the virus I’m trying to ward off – it will now point me to the One who holds my life.

Be cautious. Be diligent. Be smart. But don’t live in fear. Live in hope that through Jesus Christ you are washed clean.

Praise be to God, always and forever, Amen!

The Invisible Foe

The relentless march of an invisible foe –
imposing its will –
has taken captive nation after nation
with relative ease.
It cares not for its victims –
showing no mercy.
It strikes at will.
And it’s a fearful thing to fight an invisible foe.
Where do we strike?
How do we attack?
But enough about that –
how do we defend ourselves?
Hiding seems to be the plan
as we wait for it to march right on by,
but its march is slow and relentless.
How long will it be?
Will it find me?

[sigh]

My only hope is God my King –
the Lord of armies.
He will defend me for He has fought the fight for my life.
His warrior is Jesus, and he won.
And this invisible foe?
My life belongs to my King.

Night

The following is my newest article for The News Tribune (Tacoma) – my first for the Sunday edition of the paper. God has now given me the opportunity to expand my outreach for His glory. Sunday is a higher circulation day for the paper. And so, here you go. To God be the glory!


I have been doing a lot of praying recently. This is not to say that I didn’t pray before. I have always been a man of prayer, but I have been challenged to rethink how I pray. I recently read a devotion on prayer where the author asked the following question – “Now answer honestly. If God said yes to every prayer you prayed in the last seven days, how would the world be different?” And so, I started thinking about the content of my prayers. I noticed that I would ask God to bless my family, friends, church, etc; I would ask God to help me do this or that task; I would ask God to be with me and so on. Does this sound familiar? Would I notice a difference if God did all those things? Maybe, but I am guessing that I wouldn’t catch it right away – if I did at all.

Now, I am not suggesting, nor was the author suggesting, that we stop praying those prayers. Instead he challenged me to also be “more bold” in my prayers. He challenged me to move from vagueness to specific. Why? Because God wants you to notice Him at work and thus give Him the glory. Besides, if you access to God almighty – being commanded to pray – why wouldn’t you be bold and ask for the world.

One of the big news stories going on right now is the coronavirus (COVID-19). At the time of writing this article, the death rate is at 3.4% of those infected. The hand sanitizer section in many stores is bare and people are stocking up on necessities in case of a quarantine. Schools have closed to disinfect in response to a student’s connection to the virus. Businesses are rethinking air travel for their employees. Basically, life has changed for many people. But I don’t want to join the media machine that is feeding people doom and gloom – leading them to panic, as if this is the end of the world. Yes, I am concerned, and my family is taking precautions, but we are also praying. How are you praying about this, Pastor? That is a great question, I’m glad you asked. Let us pray…

Sovereign God, You are Lord of all. You reign on high. You sit enthroned over all of creation. This coronavirus is frightening, but I know You are in control. You are not surprised by this outbreak. And even though I don’t understand what is happening and why, I trust You. Please endow healthcare professionals with knowledge to come up with a cure and/or vaccine for this virus. Heal those who are infected. Give peace and hope to a frightened population. Stop COVID-19 dead in its tracks. Destroy this virus. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Bold prayer? YES. If God were to answer that prayer as I prayed it, would I notice a difference in the world around me? YES. Will God answer that prayer as prayed? I don’t know, but I do know God will be glorified in some way and therefore I will pray boldly. Will join me? Let us pray… Amen.