Air

As air fills the earth,
so Your love surrounds me.
Never a moment passes that I am devoid of it.
It gives me life and sustains -
     remove it and I die.
Every waking and sleeping moment -
     I am surrounded.
It fills me.
I do not have to seek it.
     It seeks me.
Never can I hide from it,
     for it is relentless.
Never does it run out,
     for it is abundant.
You are the air I breathe.
You are the life I live.
You surround me - 
     with love.
O God,
in Jesus' awesome name,
     I praise You.

[Breathe]

Good News Haiku

R.C Sproul has said, “The gospel is only good news when we understand the bad news.”
What does this mean? Great question, I am so glad you asked. Here’s another Haiku for you.


Newborn baby bird
To the ground fast – plummeting.
Hopeless? No! Jesus.


Who, in your sphere of influence, needs to hear the Good News? Make sure you explain the “bad news” first and then — Give them Jesus.

Prayer in Weakness

Whatever weakness or vulnerability you are facing, may You know the grace and love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. He will never leave you nor will He desert you, leaving you to deal with your affliction alone. He is faithful and will be your strength. Praise Him in the storm. Praise Him always and forever. Praise Him. Let us pray…

Oh God,
I feel weak and vulnerable, frail and helpless. My strength has been melted away. But, You never promised the easy way in this life, but Jesus did promise to be with us to the very end of the age.
Oh my God,
sustain me in that promise.
For that promise, in the midst of affliction and weakness, is what gives me strength and hope. It cheers my heart when I am down and lifts me up when it feels I am at rock bottom.

May I not forget Your faithfulness.

Though my body feels frail, you are my strength.
Though I feel vulnerable, You are my Helper.
Though I feel useless, Your Spirit still works through me.
Though I feel pain, You are my Comforter.
Though I feel hopeless at times, You never desert me.
Though I feel overwhelmed, You are in complete control.

Oh God, my Father, Sustainer, Good Shepherd, Sovereign God, Lord and my Rock,
I praise You in the storm.
Though the waves are crashing into my boat,
You hold me tight
and will not let me be swept away.
Though the winds are blowing hard against me,
You hold me firm
and have placed me upon the Rock.
And so I beseech You,
Oh my God,
bind Satan that he may not drive me to despair.
Cast him away that my strength is not in fighting him,
but rather,
spent glorifying You,
knowing that my strength is from You.
And so,
as I sit here,
may You be glorified despite and though my weakness,
for You are worthy,
and my Good God almighty.
It is in Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

Christian Haiku

Many of you know that I like dabbling in poetry. It has been an enriching spiritual discipline for my heart as it forces me to think carefully about my faith, scripture, God, Jesus, my salvation, etc. Recently, I have become fascinated with Haiku. This is Japanese poetry which has a particular format: Three lines with syllables 5-7-5, and generally focuses on the natural world. I have been doing some reading recently and thus I have been trying my hand at it. Below is my first attempt at what I am calling “Christian Haiku”. I know that this may not be in the spirit of the Haiku, but I pray that this new fascination drives me deeper into my faith with God through Jesus Christ. So here you go…

Once dead in my sins –
Jesus was crucified – dead
Life! Now I’m redeemed!

To God be the glory.

My Amazing God

Your eye is upon me O God
As You reign on high.
Never distant
Never silent
On You I can always rely.

You hear my cries all day and night
Not turning a deaf ear.
Always listening
Always caring
I love that You are always near.

Your grace receives this sin-filled life
Washing me white as snow.
Always forgiving
Always restoring
Through Jesus You’ll never let me go.

Praise will always be lifted high
Raising my hands to You.
Always worshipping
Always glorifying
For to You all honor is due.

Worship, Part 2

The following article is was published in The News Tribune (Tacoma) on Sunday, June 20. It is part two of my two-part series about worship in a post-pandemic era. To God be the glory!


Does a Christian have to go to worship? In my June 6 article, I posed this question and then two inferred questions from it, (1) Does a Christian have to worship (which I answered on June 6), and now today, (2) Does a Christian have to go to worship.

Wait a second pastor, it sounds like you are just repeating the question. Yes and no. The difference today is whether a Christian has to go somewhere, to a particular place, and worship corporately with other Christians, in-person. So that is what I am going to address today.

For over a year now, the pandemic has forced churches to get creative and to step outside the box (i.e online worship). It has forced pastors and leaders to learn new skills (i.e how to live stream). It has forced congregations to invest in new technologies (i.e. video cameras). And now, as we appear to be on the back side of this pandemic, we are asking the question, “What now?” How do we do church in a post-pandemic period? What is the new normal? As more and more people get vaccinated, I am seeing more and more people begin to return to in-person worship, but not everyone. Some are still leery which I respect. Some still have questions.

There was no question that at the beginning of this pandemic stepping away from in-person activities was prudent, for a time, but it was never supposed to be the norm, nor should it. As creatures, God designed us to be in communion with one another. We are relational and online cannot satisfy the communal nature God gifted us with. There are indeed exceptions to the rule (i.e. health, distance), but online should never be the norm if you are able to be present. You see, it is within the body of believers that one another’s praises are heard and compounded with ours. It is with others that sins are confessed, and absolution is received. It is with brothers and sisters in Christ that we are held accountable. Separated by distance and protected by a computer screen, it is too easy to hide and thus conceal sins.

We are not made to be apart. As the body of Christ, we are made to be together, building each other up. When you are separated from the body of believers, the body of believers no longer benefit from the Spiritual gifts God has given you. Your gifts were meant to be used and expressed with others. Your love for God is meant to be shared and meant to be seen by others. Yes, I get that this pandemic is scary, but our God is bigger. It is time for the Church to reunite and get to know one another again. It is time to face these challenges together. It is time to exert ourselves and march into battle together, carrying the banner of victory that God won through Jesus Christ.

Does a Christian have to GO TO worship? My prayer for you is that (if you are physically able) you will want to in order to magnify God’s glory in this world. To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.

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.

Sacrifice

Freedom, grace, mercy, peace.
They are not free.
They are costly.
Many have given their lives.
Many have sacrificed much.
Oh so much.
But too many forget –
taking for granted,
simply enjoying a “long weekend”,
a peaceful life.
But what is peace?
Are you really at peace?
Many have died that we my ask this question.
One has died that true peace may be had.
Let us not forget the many,
and do not forget the One.
Freedom, grace, mercy, peace.
Given through the sacrifice of many – For now.
Given through the grace of One – Forever.
Remember now
Know forever.

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.

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