Worship ~ part 1

The following is the article I submitted to The News Tribune (Tacoma) for Sunday, June 6. It is part one of two focusing on worship in what looks to be a post-pandemic period. Part two will be published on June 20 so keep your eyes peeled. To God be the glory!


A question was posted on social media recently; a question that harvested a number of responses. Mine was not one of them, but I was tempted. I held off to carefully consider my response and not risk a full-scale social media debate that rarely produces anything constructive. Rather, I am choosing to share my response with you as a way to discern what is next for the church in what looks like a post-pandemic world. So first the question:

Does a Christian have to go to worship?

There are a couple things being inferred in this question, intentional or not – both of which are beyond the scope of a 500-word article I am allotted each time in this paper. So, consider this article part one, with part two coming on June 20. I realize the suspense may be difficult but please hang with me. I believe it will be worth your time.

The two inferences to the above question are, (1) Does a Christian have to worship, and (2) Does a Christian have to go to worship? I propose these two inferences because “going to worship” can imply the act of worship or a place where others gather for worship.  And both of these questions are important to consider in a post-pandemic world.

The first inference question, “Do I have to worship?”, has two responses from me. The first is that everyone worships whether you admit it or not. Worship is simply whatever or whomever you give utmost importance and attention. The second response is this, the question is un-Christian. What I mean, is that a Christian, one who has the Spirit of God living in them, bearing witness to their spirit that they are a child of God (Romans 8:12-17), does not ask this question. Why? Because worship of God the Father is a natural outflow because of what you know of God and what He has done for you. Through Jesus Christ, you are made righteous and thus are no longer under condemnation. God condemned sin in Jesus, that you may live. And when the sinner realizes this through the gift of faith, one’s heart explodes in worship. Worship takes many forms, but however it looks, it is done joyfully and without asking, “Do I have to?”. For a saved sinner, worship is as natural as breathing.

Can you see how this is an un-Christian question? Therefore, the only proper response to the question is this: NO! A Christian does not HAVE to worship. A Christian GETS to worship this awesome God. But the issue is definitely not settled because the next inference is this, which I will deal with on June 20, Does a Christian have to “go to” worship?” Is corporate worship – worshiping with others – important?

This is my response to part one of this question. More can be said, but that is enough for now. Prayerfully consider this question: Do you have to or do you get to worship? So there you have it. I’ll see you on the 20th. To God be the glory, Amen.

Steal Me Away

Father God,
Steal away my affections from the world who holds me captive.
Steal away my affections from myself who clings to the lies sold to me.
Steal away my affections for false gods and worldly pleasures.
Destroy my misguded sense of obligation to satify the flesh; to pay it back for promises on which it cannot deliver. The flesh can only deliver death, but through Jesus Christ You are life.
Steal away my gaze that I may know You more intimately.
Steal away my heart that I may desire You more passionately.
Steal away my mind that I may long for you more deeply.
O God,
I am lost without You.
I am weak without You.
I am defeated without You.
Father God almighty, sovereign Lord of Creation, the great shepherd of the Sheep,
Steal me away and hide me in Jesus.
Secure
Safe
Forever
Father God,
Steal me away.

The River

Relentless
Powerful
Uninhibited
Purposeful
Your waters flow
To fall in I would be carried away in Your current.
To fight would be a losing battle.
To acquiesce
To surrender
would be to go with Your flow
Not mine
To be carried away is to end up,
somewhere.
You know
So here I go,
I want jump in.

Blind

It is You that I seek,
O God,
It is You.
I search and fumble.
I trip and fall.
I reach and grasp.
I seek and can’t find.
I am as a blind man in an unfamiliar room –
a fool seeking my own way.
O God,
I desperately want You.
Lead me by Your Spirit and may I not grasp with my flesh.

When I stray,
bring me back.

When I fall,
pick me up.

When I become conceited,
knock me down.

When I am lost,
show me I am found.

When I pull away,
pull me in.

When I get tired,
carry me.

When Satan comes for me
may I know that You are for me –
hidden in Jesus.

Yes!

Hide me in Jesus.
May I live by the Spirit

being lead

for that is the only way.
In this life I am blind;
on my own I am lost.
Find me and lead me,
for It is You that I seek,

only
You

Pitiful But Redeemed

Father God
I am a pitiful sinner,
But Jesus Christ,
My Lord,
My Savior,
Over Satan is the winner.
My soul You did redeem.
My life You did set free.
And now, O God, I am filled,
With Your Spirit,
With Your life,
That I may know true glee.
Sustain me now in this life,
And keep me close by Your side,
That all may know,
And never go,
The way of eternal strife.

Morning Prayer ~ Turning My Eyes

Father God,
I turn my eyes upon You this morning;
seeking You.
I long to see Your face that I may not sin –
defiling this temple,
this jar of clay.
I long to know You better that I may not stray –
seeking after other gods,
placing my hope in them.
I long to be held by You and feel Your embrace –
knowing I am secure,
being at total peace.

O God,
Surround me.
Hem me in.
Guard me.
Protect me.
The Evil One seeks my demise and I am weary of fighting.
Fight for me.
Strike him with a devastating blow.
Glorify Your name in victory.

O God,
I praise You that the ultimate battle has been won –
the battle over sin and death,
the battle for me.
I praise You that Jesus is Lord, my Savior –
that he took my sins to the grave
and You forgive me.
I praise You that through him I will wear the crown of life.
O God,
You are mighty –
mighty in love,
might in mercy,
mighty to save.

Father God,
I turn my eyes to You this morning
and always.
In Jesus name I pray,
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.

Election Day Prayer

It is Election Day but let us not worry about the outcome – rather let us give the outcome to God. He will not be surprised. No matter what, Jesus is Lord. Rest in the sure and certain knowledge. Let us pray…


Sovereign God and King, I praise You that You sit on the throne, not because of any vote but because of who You are. You reign on high and You reign in our hearts. You reign in power and You reign in love. You reign in wisdom and You reign forever. Oh God, may we rest peacefully in that knowledge, no matter what happens on this day. But I am not suggesting that we be passive spectators. Give wisdom to people as they cast ballots. Give wisdom as we live in this country no matter who is elected. May we stand firm on the rock solid foundation of Your promises in Jesus Christ. May we never back down. May we always fight for You knowing that the battle is Yours and Yours alone. Oh God, I know that You will not be surprised by the outcome of this election and thus Your will, will be done. Give us the faith to trust You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

God Reigns No Matter What

The following is my article that was published in The News Tribune (Tacoma) this morning. To God be the glory!


I was reminded recently of the strong feelings many have concerning this election and potential ramifications of the outcome. I took a seemingly “hands off” approach in a comment about the election on Twitter, but I am anything but “hands off”. You see, I voted and did my civic duty, but I am not stressing about who will win or who will lose. Some people have threatened to leave the country if so and so is elected – thinking that the grass will be greener somewhere else. The problem with that thinking is that often people find artificial turf where they end up landing. Instead of fleeing, why not stay and fight for change, or better yet, pray and trust God.

So, with that being said, I wrote the following post on Twitter: “In the grand scheme of things, it makes no difference who wins. What truly matters is that God is and always will be sovereign. Jesus is Lord and God’s Kingdom will last forever. Vote your conscience but remember who reigns. To God be the glory, always and forever.

One of my Twitter followers soon responded with the comment, “Unfollow”. I guess she did not like that tweet. After I questioned her, she responded, but it was clear she either did not understand what I was saying or completely disagreed with me. I had tried to make myself clear, but to no avail. She appeared to be more wrapped up in this election than trusting God. I am not saying we should be completely nonchalant or passive about the election, but I am not going to curl up in a ball and cry if my candidate/party loses. I will continue to trust God.

Election Day is two days away. Some of you have voted already. Some may be still contemplating their ballot. Whatever the case, we will all come through this election season with leaders elected to office. Whoever is elected, know that God will not be surprised or disappointed. That was the point of my above Tweet. God is sovereign. God has a plan. God will get what He wants. And so, trust in Him and pray.

Holy God, this election season has been a source of stress for many. Some are inflamed with hatred over the opposing candidate/party. Our leaders, who are supposed to have our backs and faithfully govern us, are playing an intricate chess game with one another in an effort to advance their own agendas. Oh God, this is not how it should be. But I give you thanks that that is not the way of things in Your Kingdom. As King You rule with all authority but also with our best interests close to Your heart – defeating death and giving us life and salvation through Jesus Your dear Son. And so, may we look to You for our hope and not to the leaders of this country. Give us wisdom to select the leaders You have chosen to advance Your agenda. And give us peace to live in this country no matter who is in office – knowing their rule is limited but Yours is eternal. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Sermon Teaser ~ Know Him

The following is the opening paragraph of the sermon I will be preaching on Sunday, October 18 on Matthew 25:14-30 (Parable of the Talents). To God be the glory!


Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, is faithful and true. Jesus Christ, King if kings, reigns on high; one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, the Son of God died for your sins and washed you clean in his blood. Jesus Christ, the bridegroom, is coming to retrieve his bride, the Church. He is faithful and he will do it. To know Jesus is to be in awe of his majesty. To know Jesus is to live in expectation of his glorious return. To know Jesus is to live in freedom and without fear. To know Jesus is to know Life eternal. So do not just know about Jesus, but know him; and live in union with him and justified in God’s eyes. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace who reigns forever and ever, let us pray…


[To see the complete sermon, go to YouTube and search for, “Living Word Lutheran Church – Graham, WA”. It will go live at 9:45 AM (Pacific) and will be saved on the channel]