Good Pleasure

The text for preaching this morning is Luke 12:32 where Jesus says that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. It is a rich and Gospel-packed verse and I can hardly wait to preach it this morning. The following is part of the Holy Communion liturgy I wrote with the Gospel text in mind. May it bring glory to God.


It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God, our Shepherd and Father; for it is Your good pleasure to give us Your kingdom. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, You have saved us from our sins and redeemed us from the clutches of the Evil One. You have placed us in the vault of Your fortress and carved, in granite, our names in the Book of Life. You are the hope in a violent and hate-filled world. You are the Light in the stormy waters. You are the Truth as the Deceiver works overtime to lead Your flock astray. Nothing and no one can stake their claim on Your children. For these reasons, and many more, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

Grace and Mercy ~ A Prayer

Father God,

Your grace and mercy is something that doesn’t make sense.
I mean, sinners, us, receiving mercy and forgiveness.
Sinners receiving chance after chance to change our ways and be obedient.
Sinners who constantly turn on You.
Sinners who would much rather be their own god
or acquiesce to weak worldly gods.

To reflect on such depravity sends chills up and down my spine.
But it is because of such depravity
that Jesus comes.
It is because of such darkness within
that Jesus is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
It is because of such self-glorification
that Jesus dies and rises,

Oh God,
may Your Spirit continue to shine the light of Truth in our hearts
that we may always run to You.
And once in Your arms
may all worship and thanksgiving be given to You
for Your incredible grace and mercy.
Oh God, there is no god like You
and therefore You are worthy of all praise.
All glory be unto You, oh God, through Christ Jesus our Lord,


The Pastor -|—



Arise, oh child of God, arise.

Arise and give praise and glory to God.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and see this brand new day.

This is indeed the day the Lord has made so arise, rejoice and be glad in it.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and behold the grace of God.

Arise, oh child of God, arise for God has a special plan for you. Things may not go as you have planned but take heed, oh child of God, that God is in control.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and worship the King, the Lord.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and cling to His son, THE Christ. For salvation is yours through faith him so therefore arise and proclaim the Good News.

Arise, oh child of God, arise for this is a new day of grace.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and know your day will be blessed; for your are His workmanship, His glory, His pride so rejoice and praise his holy name.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and know the awesome love of God.


Have a blessed and glorious day 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Right between the eyes

I was talking with a person a while back about a funeral they attended…and I was saddened by what I heard.  I was saddened because  it didn’t sound like the Gospel was preached.  When I asked how the funeral went they said things like:

It was a great celebration of their life.
It was very upbeat.
Fun stories were shared about him.
“He lived a very good life.

There was nothing about the Gospel.  Maybe it was preached but those comments sure don’t sound like that is what they heard.  What this person remembers are stories and remembrances of the past.  I wish I would have challenged them more but being in a public place I shied away from confronting them…but maybe I should have.

[A missed opportunity]

I also remember another conversation (by the way…I am preparing for a funeral this week, that is why these memories are bubbling up).  This conversation was with a family.  I was meeting with them but was unable to do the funeral because of a prior commitment.  Luckily they had a family member who was a pastor so they were going to lead worship.  Through the course of the meeting the daughter was talking about the service and wanted lots of stories about her mother.  I chimed in and said a funeral has nothing to do with the deceased but everything to do with Jesus and what he has done for you and for me.  This was the response I got:

Well…at my funeral you are going to talk about me!

I really wanted to argue but I decided that wasn’t the place.  Besides…at her funeral she won’t have any say what I talk about 🙂

Why am I bring this up?

As I prepare for a funeral one of the things I am keenly aware of is that there could very easily be people there who normally do not attend worship.  These people only enter a worship space on Easter, Christmas, funerals and weddings.  They go through life without hearing the Good News.  So when they do finally show up in a worship space you just can not miss that opportunity.  You have to smack them right between the eyes with the Gospel, not fun stories about the deceased.  The dead person’s past life is not going to help them.  The only thing that will help is Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection; the victory he won FOR YOU and FOR ME.

Too many people in the world today water down the Gospel with the prosperity gospel (which is NO gospel at all; not good news).  The prosperity gospel says that if you believe hard enough, are a good person and keep your nose to the grindstone, you can be successful (to have your best life now).  If bad things happen then you somehow fell short. Please do not buy into this false gospel.

Once again…that is NOT good news.

And it bugs me to no end that this message is being preached by many so called ministers out there; leading people astray.  What they are doing is simply preaching a message that people WANT to hear, not what they NEED to hear.

What people need to hear is:
–We are sinners and can not survive this life on our own.
–There is hope.
–We have a savior in Jesus.
–That through faith in Christ there is forgiveness of our sins.
–That there is NOTHING we can do to earn, merit or deserve this grace.
–God loves you!

So when I prepare a funeral sermon (or any sermon for that matter) I try to keep in mind what people need to hear…and let them have it.

So as I prepare for this funeral on Thursday I am winding up and preparing myself to smack people right between the eyes with the TRUE Gospel.  And I pray that God will use the words I say to change someone’s life.  All to God’s glory.

So if you are reading this and coming on Thursday, get ready because I will be bringing it 🙂

Praise be to God!

edh -|—

Preach Jesus

I have a Celebration of New Life service (a.k.a. funeral) to prepare for this week.  It takes place on Friday morning.  In my preparations I got to thinking about some other funerals that I have attended for people I know and for family.  There are two that stand out to me.  They stand out because at each service Jesus was not preached.  Actually…the name “Jesus” was not uttered…not even once.  Jesus was alluded to, but if I were an unbeliever or someone who has never even heard about this guy, Jesus, I would not have heard any Good News.  And both of those services were supposedly Christian funerals.

In seminary, my preaching professor told us that when we preach try to mention Jesus’ name at least once.  The obvious implication was to make sure that we were preaching the Good News of Jesus dying and rising for us.  For if we are not preaching about Jesus then we are just there giving a speech about some religious topic.

For me, a funeral is a golden opportunity to preach the Good News to those who normally would not step foot inside a church.  You also have people who I call CEOs (Christmas Easter Only…with the occasional wedding or funeral).  When I preach at a funeral I not only have the mourners in mind but those who don’t normally hear the Gospel.  We can’t miss these opportunities.

Jesus needs to be preached!

The best funeral preaching advise I have received came from a woman from Salem who died.  She left me detailed instructions about her funeral.  This is an excerpt of what she wrote (and how she wrote it):


And believe me…I was going to listen to her…and I still do.  To this day, this is why we call funerals “A Celebration of New Life.”

Preach Jesus…and don’t miss “golden opportunities”.  Preach Jesus and preach Life.  Preach Jesus…even if you are not ordained, preach Jesus (in words and deeds).  Preach Jesus.

[Did I mention…preach Jesus?]