Issues

Holy and awesome God, we have many issues plaguing this country, but they are all rooted in one common denominator:

A lack of respect and acknowledgment of Your holiness.

The overwhelming fact remains, we are sinners and You are holy – and there is nothing we can do to change our condition. But through Your infinite grace, You sent Jesus to save sinners through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Holy God, gracious and merciful, send Your Holy Spirit that people may acknowledge You as holy and seek Your face through Jesus. May people understand that healing only comes from You. May the peace they seek be peace with You through Christ Jesus our Lord. We have many issues plaguing our nation but You are sovereign over them all. For that, I praise and worship You and You alone. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Fill Us

Come, Holy Spirit come.
Fill us with your peace during this time of chaos.
Fill us with hope as our “normal” has been stripped away.
Fill us with healing as hatred seeks to divide this nation.
Fill us with love so we may see the heart of a person and not their exterior.
Fill us with the Truth that people around us may come to know Jesus.
Fill us with Life that we may not fear the sting of death.
Fill us with peace so that walls may come tumbling down.
Fill us with joy so we may live and work and play together as one family.
Come, Holy Spirit come.
Fill us with You.

God Kicked My Butt

God kicked my butt today. Actually, the butt-kicking started yesterday as a series of tech problems halted my plans – plans that I thought were brilliant and would be joyfully received by the worshiping community. But when our ways are not God’s ways, well, we are not going to win that battle. You see, up to this point I had been live streaming worship on YouTube from my living room but it dawned on me this past week that I could use the church’s video camera that we use to video record my sermons,. I could record a service on Saturday from the sanctuary, instead of my living room, and then upload it on Sunday. I felt this would be more worshipful – to be where we always held worship. People would be excited and that made me happy. So that was the plan. It would be great.

Take one: So, I went to the church building on Saturday afternoon to record a worship service. I set up the chancel area and positioned the video camera. The sermon was done, and my worship notes were ready. I put on my alb, stole and pectoral cross. I knew exactly what I was going to do and what I was going to say. Lights, action, camera – and off I went. Everything went great. I thought I had hit it out of the park until I went to stop the camera. When I hit the record button again to stop the recording, the counter started – as if I was just turning it on. In panic, I hit the button again, pulled out the memory card and ran to my office to upload the video. No video. The worship did not get recorded. The camera said the card was full but there should have been plenty of room. I got a little frustrated, but I quickly settled down and took this as God’s sign that I should do this in the morning.

Take two: Sunday morning came, and I got up at my usual time. I went through my usual routine and then drove to the church building. I got set up again – lighting candles, making sure my notes were ready, my microphone pack was turned on and I got dressed in my worship garb. Lights, action camera – again. I led worship and everything went great. Another homerun – or so I thought. I went to my office to upload the video from a card that was empty when I started. But when I open the card directory there were three files. “That doesn’t make sense.” I thought. Apparently, the worship service stopped and started a couple times giving me separate three files. Grrr… Strike two on the recording. Resigning myself to “settle” for a live stream, I packed up my stuff and rushed home – praying along the way. “Why God, why? I am supposed to have a worship service ready to go for people this morning.” After some more praying and then some listening, I finally heard what God was saying, “Worship is not an event to watch.” All weekend I felt something was off about me recording a worship service, but I thought it was just nerves about how everything would turn out. Apparently, the uneasiness I felt was God tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Don’t do this.

Take three: With a big smile – as I realized the lesson God had just taught me – I prepared my living room for a live stream of worship – no frustration, no anger, just thankfulness. How could I have been so vain to think I could choreograph a worship service production for people to watch later and then call it good and God glorifying. After getting set up, I prayed some more and just listened. I tossed away the bulletin and just led worship – I don’t think the church in Acts had a worship bulletin. And you know something, the Holy Spirit took over and HE hit it out of the park – Grand Slam!

I wish God had given me a clear Post-it note on my computer or something, but some of the best lessons are learned the hard way. When worship is Spirit-led in the moment, God is glorified. All of man’s efforts to produce something that is too scripted, runs the risk of self-glorification. That is what happened to me. In John 4, Jesus said that the Father is looking for people to worship Him in Spirit and truth. Yes, that is worship and that is what finally happened this morning. Thank You, God, for teaching me that lesson. To God be all glory, honor, praise — and worship — through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

For the Church

For the Church, that we may dwell in unity, oh God. May we be the people You created us to be and do the ministry You called and commanded us to do:
Where there is division – unite.
Where there is discord – harmonize.
Where there is hurt – heal.
Where there is despair – give hope.
Where there is dissension – unify.
Where there is straying – retrieve.
Where there is hate – sow seeds of love.
Where there is fear – give courage.
Where there is confusion – give clarity.
Holy God, may the Enemy not get a foot-hold in the Church, but rather may we slam the door in his face. For you are our God, our hope, our life and our salvation. Send us Your Holy Spirit – working in and through us – that we may shine Your light – bursting open the tombs of those who are dead. To You be all glory, honor, praise and worship through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

I have been praying a certain prayer recently. It’s a prayer that God has been faithful to answer not because I am saying the “right” words. It’s been the Holy Spirit slapping me up across the head in the midst of worry and anxiety – refocusing my attention…

I’ve got this.

…I have prayed these words and have felt the peace of God – my sovereign Lord, Father and Creator. Therefore, it is a prayer that I will continue today and in all my tomorrows. Will you pray with me?


Sovereign God, You were faithful yesterday as You took my tomorrow. Receive my today all for Your glory. Take my tomorrow that I may rest in Your peace this day. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Holy Awe

The following is the prayer I wrote to pray before the sermon this morning. God help me…


Holy God, as a minister of the Gospel, I come to this task of preaching, as I do every time I step to the pulpit, with a heavy sense of awe. For it is Your Word I have been called to proclaim – Your Word, not mine. To withhold or to add to Your Word, would be to deny the truth of who You are. To twist, shape and mold to fit my agenda would be to misrepresent who Your are. Your Word is holy as it is. As the psalmist says in Psalm 19: The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. This is the holy awe with which I am faced. And so, I ask for Your Spirit to guide my words that I may not run afoul of this holy task. May I make much of You and You alone. To You be all glory, praise, honor and worship through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.

Aching Heart Prayer

I read a story this morning about a church for whom my heart aches. I hate to see them going astray and so I penned (as it were) this prayer that I plan to use in worship this morning. To God be the glory!


Holy God, I don’t claim to be perfect, but there are many straying from the truth – ones who once held to the truth but now have been seduced away. They have gone the way of the world in search of calmer and more peaceful waters. They search and search, drifting further and further away. They water down Your Word to make it more palatable. And worse yet, they think they are being faithful. Oh, my God and King, my heart aches for them. Their only hope is a supernatural breakthrough by Your Holy Spirit. And so, I boldly ask that You may steer them back on course. Send now Your Holy Spirit – not for the sake of unity but for the sake of Your glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Raise up faithful leaders in these apostate churches, oh God. Show them the Truth. Forgive them. Redeem them – as you have redeemed me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Yes, Yes, YES

WOW, this one just flew through my fingers and onto the keyboard. No other words of introduction. So i’m just going to leave this right here. To God be the glory!


Oh yes, yes, YES! it is right and it is our joy to give You thanks and praise, oh God. You are our mighty Rock and Foundation, our Strong Fortress and Shelter, our Father who has redeemed us through Jesus Christ. You are our Life. Enliven us with Your Spirit that joy may spill forth from our beings and soak all those around us with Your love. May no one be missed. May we not show partiality but run to the lost and outcast. May we embrace our enemies and those difficult to love. May we beam with delight, so much so, that people are blinded and see nothing but Your glory. We love You and worship You, oh God, and thus we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise.

Holy Spirit Prayer

I am teaching an adult Sunday school class on the Holy Spirit and as i get into this more i am becoming more and move overwhelmed (in a good way) on the depth of this topic. I know i cannot do this justice and thus i pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me. But as i pray, i am being ever reminded on my deep need for the Holy Spirit to teach me, guide me and keep me in the Truth. And thus i continue to pray, in the name of Jesus, for the Spirit of God to help me. I cannot do this – or anything – on my own. Let us pray…

Oh Spirit of God open the Word to me.
Oh Spirit of God how i adore thee.
You are perfect in knowledge and wisdom.
You open my heart to know You.
You show me Jesus my Lord and Savior.
You seize my heart and make me new.
Oh Spirit of God teach me to follow again.
Oh Spirit of God may i shout my “Amen!”
Without You i would be lost to the truth.
Without You i would be condemned to death.
Without You i would leave for the world.
Oh breathe into me Your holy breath.
So Holy Spirit show me the Way.
For i need You each and everyday.
Teach me that i can learn to obey.
Oh Spirit of God, in Jesus’ name i pray.

Blowing

You wave and sway.
You bend and bow.
Your movement is not choreographed by you.
Nothing planned.
Nothing thought out.
You just move.
You don’t resist.
You don’t try to prevent.
You don’t complain.
You just move.
Sometimes you’re still.
Sometimes you’re active.
Sometimes you’re shaped anew.
But not of your own doing.
You simply submit.

And you put me to shame.

The wind blows as it wills and you respond in kind.
The Holy Spirit does the same, but I often resist.
You don’t think because you can’t think, yet it is almost as if you really do know.
For as the wind blows you become stronger and stronger; able to grow larger and larger.
Reaching higher
Higher
Higher
And it’s not you reaching but God reaching for you.
It’s as if you know.
You do know, don’t you?
Oh to be a tree and submit to the wind of the Spirit.
Becoming stronger and reaching higher
Higher
Higher
Oh to be a tree