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]

In the Here and Now

Father God, You are mighty in power. Your love knows no bounds. Your grace is absolutely amazing, and Your mercies are new every morning – great is Your faithfulness. My worship of You, in the here and now, is never enough and therefore You have created me for eternity through Jesus my Savior. In the here and now I cannot sing Your praises enough, therefore I look forward to shouting Your praises with all the saints in Your holy courts. In the here and now my words are insufficient to speak of Your greatness, therefore I look forward to seeing You face to face and seeing the fullness of Your glory. Oh God, through Jesus Christ, Your Son and my Lord, I long for nothing but You, in the here and now. Amen.

COVID-19 Prayer

Sovereign God, I acknowledge that there is nothing above you. I acknowledge that there is nothing outside Your power. And, I acknowledge that You are in perfect control. I do not understand this virus. I do not understand why it is persisting this long. People are dying and suffering. Lives have been turned upside down. So much frustration. So much confusion. But through it all, You are my constant. You reign on high. You are the giver of life. You are my God. So, I boldly ask that you destroy this virus – I know You can, but thy will be done. But whatever Your will may be, mold and shape me through this time. I do not want 2020 to be a bad number that passes my lips, but may 20/20 be the vision that I have of You in the midst of this pandemic. You have never left me and never will. Heal and strengthen my faith that I may always look to You through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Sinking

A little while ago a series of events unfolded, leading me to reflect on the sum of those events taking place all in one day: Wildfire smoke from eastern WA; wildfires around us in western WA; a power outage (that ended up lasting 40 hours); poor air quality means we should not open windows; and the First day of school was postponed. And all of this in the midst of a pandemic. I posted my list on Facebook and concluded my list with a funny movie reference and then asked, “It cannot possibly get any worse, right?” My intention was to be funny, but many people did not see it that way. Some people concluded I was struggling, maybe even depressed. They offered words and prayers of support. A congregation member asked me later if I was doing better. Even though I was trying to be funny, I think my heart was trying to show me something I was forgetting. Soon after I posted my list on Facebook, a seminary classmate commented: “Pandemic, civil unrest, and the heat wave coming tomorrow. Yet Christ’s promises to you remain unchanged.” YES! Christ’s promises to me remain unchanged. A couple days later my morning devotion was about Peter walking on the water with Jesus. When Peter looked at the raging storm around him, he began to sink. I had taken my eyes off Jesus and I was sinking along with Peter.

O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” [Matthew 14:31]

I do not know, but what I do know is that my faithful Lord and Savior reached out to me as my heart cried out. He sent people into my life to proclaim the Truth. He clung to me with those nail-pierced hands and carried me safely to shore. When Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, he declared those whom he saved – saved. He declared that Satan no more has a hold on you. Jesus defeated hopelessness and fear. Jesus reigns on high now, and forever more.

And so, instead of a list of woes and other negatives going on, I am focusing on the blessings in my life: two beautiful children excited for school, a healthy family, less arthritic back pain, the wildfires did not touch my home or church. So much for which to thank and praise God, and when I do, my heart is led to worship. Look to your blessings and not the challenges of this year. Below is a poem I wrote in June 2015 that speaks of my heart today. To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.

I love You in the morning,
I love You in the eve;
for You are always with me,
and ever will You be.

I thank You with my whole heart,
I thank You all my life;
for You are holy awesome,
and ever be my Light.

Jesus is my Lord and Life,
for his life did he give.
You are always faithful, God,
and ever will I Live.

God Is Not Absent

In the midst of hardships and tragedies, our awesome God is not absent but ever present – longing to calm the storm. Maybe he does not calm the storm raging all around you, but through Jesus Christ he calms the storm in your heart. For these storms do not define you and they definitely do not direct your destiny. These storms are not your eternal reality and they are definitely not sovereign over you. Yes, storms do rage and toss you to and fro, but Jesus not only walks on the storm, he tramples it as he reaches out to you with grace and compassion. In no way are you required to fight the waves to get to a safe haven, but Jesus simply reaches out his hand upon your faith-filled plea for help.

No, storms are not a sign of God’s absence but just the opposite. Satan wants you to fail, crumble, knuckle under and give up, but God will be gloried and thus He will give you what you need to make that happen. Do not cry out wondering why God left, rather worship Him and know that He is faithful to not let Satan consume you.

Maybe you are not going through a storm at the moment, but someone is. Pray for them that they may see God through Jesus Christ. Pray for a hedge of protection around them to keep Satan at bay. Pray for God’s glory to shine through their storm. Pray, pray and then pray some more. God is not an absent God. He is an ever-present God in times of trouble. Do not forget this.

GOD – IS – NOT – ABSENT!

God is faithful and God is FOR YOU. Call out to Him. Go head. God is listening.

All glory, honor, praise and thanksgiving be unto our awesome God through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen!

I Do Not Know

I do not know about today.
I do not know about the way.
I do not know about tomorrow.
I do not know how to handle this sorrow.
I do not know what’s around the bend.
I do not know why this will not end.
I do not know which way to go.
I do not know,
I do not know.
But You, oh God, know,
and thus it is Your way I will go.
There is much out of my control,
as this year has definitely taken its toll.
Guide me,
Guide me,
and lead along the way.
May Your glory be revealed in me this day.
I do not know,
I do not know,
But thank You, God, it is You that I know.

Trust

The following is my Sunday article for The News Tribune (Tacoma). It is based on a poem I wrote and published on my blog last week titled, “The Forest”. To God be the glory.


I remember the good ole days when I would turn on the evening news and get informed on what was going on in the world, this nation and the community around me. I even looked forward to it as those behind-the-desk personalities connected with me personally – like they were family. Their insight into the events helped me understand better what was going on and I trusted them. Each night I would turn on my television and wait. When my “family” appeared, they seemed happy to see me and thus I gave them my undivided attention. But gone are those days. Actually, I cannot remember the last time I anxiously turned on the evening news or even reluctantly turned it on. Those days are gone because my so-called “family” has made it easy for me to let go. It is hard to know what or who to trust anymore and thus I have stopped showing up to those evening “family reunions”. Events are still happening in the world, but now I am forced to be more careful of what I read, watch and believe.


And I am thankful, because it has redirected and reinforced in me whom I ultimately should be trusting: Jesus. I used to find peace in knowing what was going on in the world; now I find peace in God knowing me in Jesus Christ. I used to find peace in a “family” who never truly knew me; and now I am at peace in the family of God. I used to find peace in being able to discuss and even debate the events of the day; now I find peace in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.
In the end it is about whom you trust and whom you will follow. Following Jesus is not always easy, but it is always right, for he is always faithful and true. Following Jesus may seem scary and confusing at times, but he IS the Way, the Truth and the Life. Oh sinner, trust and follow Jesus, and be at peace now and with God forever through the forgiveness of your sins.
The following poem is something I wrote as I reflected on following Jesus – anywhere – trusting him with my life.


Following Jesus is one of trust,
like walking through a
forest
and not knowing the way.
Trees –
all looking the same.
Paths –
some looking safe
some looking scary.
Eyes –
watching and judging and waiting.
Noises –
a jumbled mess.
Some days I feel
lost,
but then his gentle hand
reassures.
And just when I think that I am through the
forest,
there is a

cliff.
And Jesus says jump.


Will you jump with me and be at peace? To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen