The chorus of creation makes the most beautiful music under the direction of the Director; perfect music for a weary soul.
I sit down and the concert begins; shielding me from the noise out there, giving peace to my noisy heart. I sigh a happy smile, and enjoy.
The Director leads the way, cueing every sound. Soon I’m lost in perfect harmonies, the world out there is forgotten. But soon a person jogs by and startles me away from the creation chorus, my heart races, but I quickly reengage the concert. Again I am lost, and my heart is calm.
Birds sing their melodies. The wind adds its part. The trees applaud with joy. The flow of the river keeps everything together.
The Director’s composition is perfect. Nothing did He miss.
As I stand to reenter the world; I applaud, praising the Director. I am ready now, ready to reenter the world, with a heart that is at peace.
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]
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.
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.
The following is the article I submitted to The News Tribune (Tacoma) for Sunday. To God be the glory!
Let’s get right to it – we are all sinful and thus we make mistakes every single day. We say and do stupid things. We hurt people with our words. We sin through omission. We sin through turning a blind eye or deaf ear to an injustice. There is no getting around it. We all find ourselves in moments where confession is warranted and, for the most part, forgiveness is expected.
We see this over and over again through the media. Some out-front personality makes a mistake. They say something offensive and social media goes wild. After some time, an apology is issued. Immediately the words of the offender are critiqued: Is the apology sincere? Are they only apologizing because they got caught? Did they actually apologize, or did they just craft some words together to make it look that way? Sometimes the apology is simply overlooked as people continue to fixate on the offense. So really, it is not about the apology, but rather for the offender to admit their offense so they can be further punished through the court of public opinion – a court that rarely shows mercy. Soon the offender loses sponsors, business ties or even their job because these businesses fear the court of public opinion. They do not want to be the next victim. Does this sound familiar? If not, just wait, I am sure that the next offender will be coming along anytime now, and the court will be in session to judge and convict. It almost makes a person paranoid. We do not want to be the next victim in this merciless court. But praise be to God that His mercy is boundless.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (Jesus), much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” [Romans 5:10-11]
This is the Good News: You were enemies of God, but Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins that you may now have peace with God. The world may not necessarily want peace with you, but God was so serious about peace with you that Jesus suffered on the cross. That is true love and grace. Even if the world befriends you, it will eventually turn its back on you. But once you are in Christ, that is forever. He will never turn his back on you and thus you never have to worry about a merciless court or God throwing you under the bus. Our amazing God desires reconciliation and thus He desires your faith-filled, humble confession so He can announce to you forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
So go ahead – confess your sins. Confess boldly before the Lord. Confess even your darkest and most embarrassing sins to God. Confess, and rest assured that through faith in Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Amen.
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 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.
When I gaze at You, oh God, everything else seems to fade away. The noise The hate The chaos The conflict It all fades away, for You claim my attention – You have claimed my heart. Nothing disappears or is magically solved. It just does not claim me. When I gaze at You, I am rescued – I am rescued from the quicksand. When I gaze at You, I am convicted – why would I ever give myself to lifeless pursuits. So whenever I feel myself being pulled into the quicksand, I gaze at You and I am rescued. Oh my Father God, through Christ Jesus my Lord, I – am – FREE.
The following is my article that was published in The News Tribune (Tacoma) this morning. To God be the glory!
Time is a relentless soldier that marches on without compromise. But sometimes we say that time is moving too slow, like when we are engaging in an activity we do not enjoy. Sometimes we say that time flies by too fast, like when we are engaging in an activity we really enjoy. As a father I have often said that I blinked and my kids were grown up. There have been times when it felt like time had stopped. Whatever the situation, the constant through it all is the relentless and methodical march of time. It never varies in speed, even though it feels like it at times, and it never varies in direction. It moves forward and it never, ever changes. It is one of the few things of this world that we can count on.
Twenty years ago, I was in the midst of a summer Greek class as I was beginning seminary in St Paul, Minnesota. It was four years that seemed to last a long time. Sixteen years ago, I was ordained into the ministry of Word and sacrament as I was one month into my first call as a pastor in southwest Minnesota. Four years ago, I was one month into my second call – at Living Word Lutheran Church. Each moment I look back and wonder where the time went. And in each moment, time went where it always does with its unvarying speed – relentlessly marching forward. But still, I feel as if I blinked and now here I am.
Approximately 120+ days ago 2020 took a turn that seems like forever ago, yet it almost feels like yesterday. Satan sells the lie that time has slowed down and thus God is prolonging our suffering – like a stalked storm continuously churning – beating down upon us. But the fact remains, time has not stalled but has marched on – never slowing. And this is indeed a gift from God, for God is the creator of time. He exists outside of time and He is in the midst of it with you and me. We are not drifting aimlessly through this storm but rather being carried along with the relentless march of time. It is because of that fact I am confident that this pandemic (or whatever suffering you are dealing with) will pass, because time never fails. Before we know it, this suffering will be far behind us as a distant memory. Before we know it, we will be reminiscing about how God pruned you and me for his glory. Before we know it, we will be saying, “I blinked, and this suffering disappeared.”
Time is such a gift – perfectly created by our Creator God. These past few months seem long, but continue to hold on, my friends. Time, has not and will not come to a complete stop. Cling to God’s promises in Jesus Christ and march on with Him into glory. Amen.