Child-Like Praying

Holy God, it is not long, beautiful, poetic words that impress You or are more effective, but rather prayers that come from the heart of one who trusts You. It is like a child coming up to their mommy or daddy asking for a glass of water and fully expecting to receive it. They trust their parents. May I, Your child, learn to come to You as my holy daddy – opening my heart and humbling myself before You in the name of Jesus – trusting that You will give to me as You see best. May this great privilege of prayer not become routine or rote. May it be an intimate time with You. May I never take it for granted or view it as a to-do list item. May prayer be the very air I breath. And so, with that in mind – my holy daddy – hear and receive my prayer…

~ Give our nation’s leaders wisdom so they won’t act stupid.
~ Give our nation’s leaders a heart of compassion so they won’t be mean.
~ Put out the fires in Australia and protect those who are fighting them.
~ There are a lot of homeless people. Please help them.
~ May church leaders teach and preach the Bible correctly.
~ May people in the church forgive one another and work together.
~ Help me be strong and not afraid to tell Satan to go back to hell.
~ Protect our men and women serving in the military.
~ Those who are sick, please heal them.
~ Those who are hurt, help them feel better.
~ Help me to talk about Jesus with those who don’t know him.
~ Please help the United States and Iran get along.
~ Please help Democrats and Republicans get along.
~ Please help me get along with people I don’t like or who are mean to me.
~ Please help me be a better pastor.
~ Please help me be a better daddy.
~ Please help me be a better husband.
~ Bless each and every member of the congregation I serve.
~ Bless LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ).
~ Thank you for our police, fire fighters, paramedics, first responders and other emergency personnel. Bless them as they protect and take care of us.
~ Bless my children. Continue to help them grow to know you.
~ Bless my wife. Continue to shape her into the godly woman, mother and wife You want her to be.
~ Give me better eyes to see You and give me better ears to hear You.
~ May I never lose my child-like faith.

There is more on my heart, but You already know that. And so here you go.
I know You hear ALL of my prayers.
I know You respond to ALL of my prayers.
I know You never dismiss my prayers as silly or stupid.
Oh God, my heaven daddy, I love You and want to know You better. As You respond to my prayers give me the faith to see that I may draw closer to You and give You the glory. You are awesome!

Well, that is all for now. I’ll talk to you soon 🙂

In Jesus name I pray,

Amen.

Getting Dirty

I wrote the following article for our LCMC NW District newsletter that just came out (Aug 2019).

___________________________________________

I serve as the pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in Puyallup, WA; a congregation that is known as “a church in a box”. That is just a fun way of saying that we have a large covered trailer that stores all our equipment; a trailer we unload and load every week for worship. You see, for 10 years, this congregation has been renting space; most of which has been at a county community center in a park. The building used to be a church building, so it is perfectly suited for us, except that it is not ours. So, for 10 years, this congregation has been searching for a home of their own. Well, our search may be over.

A 5-acre property with a church building, about 15 to 30 minutes away from our current location, has been presented to us. Currently, we are in a 60-day feasibility study phase to determine if this building will be “feasible” for us. It is nearly move-in ready (with some upgrades and minor repairs to be made) but eventually a sanctuary will need to be built. In the meantime, the fellowship hall will work. There are so many possibilities with this building along with many challenges. I admit, it has been hard to keep my emotions in check and resist the urge to mentally move into the building prematurely. The congregation is excited and believe me, I really want this for them, but I am still cautious, because this may be the worst thing for us.

What in the world are you talking about, pastor? We’ve been waiting for this for 10 years. (I can already hear my congregation asking that question).

There are many who think that if we get this building we will start to grow. They believe our stagnant numbers are due to us not being as visible. There may be some truth to the stagnant numbers theory, but we also must be careful. You see, a church cannot take a “Field of Dreams” approach when it comes to ministry in a community. There is no ghostly voice saying, If you build it, they will come. It worked in the movie but that’s not reality.

What needs to happen is the church needs to be the church. We need to live out our faith in our everyday lives. We need to be willing to get our hands dirty. Jesus never set up camp in one location for very long; he moved around and went to the people. Church buildings are great, but they can’t be home. Church buildings are a ministry launching pad not a clubhouse. Church buildings are a place to gather for corporate worship but then you must be sent out, and thus my prayers. I am not praying that God give us this building. (WHAT?!? — Just hang on a bit here). What I am praying for is that God prepare the hearts of this congregation to do the ministry that is required for HIS kingdom to grow. As a farmer needs to prepare the soil before planting so must our hearts be ready. Along with that, I am praying for what Solomon asked when God said to him, Ask what I shall give you. Solomon replied, …Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people? (1 Kings 3:5 & 9) God help me.

Churches with large member numbers in large auditoriums can make a huge difference. Small, country churches can make a huge difference. Churches meeting in tiny downtown store fronts can make a huge difference. Churches meeting the living room of the pastor’s home can make a huge difference. Churches meeting in a tent with a dirt floor can make a huge difference. It is not the location or the building or the size or anything of this world that matters. What matters is the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the people. The church is the people, not a building made of bricks, mortar and wood.

This is not a popular notion with many, and some may even think I am turning my back on this congregation’s dream. Believe me, I am not. I am trying to see the bigger picture. And so, my prayer is for the hearts of the people here; that they may hear the clear voice of God leading them and empowering them to be the church. If this property is going to be ours, then we will need to get off our butts and do some serious Kingdom work, God help us. If people just want to build a clubhouse, then please, let’s abandon this process. Wherever we gather, wherever we worship, we will glorify God. The Church is not comprised of buildings. The Church is the people. So, be the Church, wherever God places You and bring glory to His holy name. Let us pray…

Oh God, give me wisdom to lead Your people rightly. Give Your church faith and courage to follow you wherever You lead. Prepare the hearts of Your people to do some serious Kingdom work for Your glory. Oh God, if it be Your will for Your church to exist in a building, then so be it. If Your church is to exist in a tent, then so be it. Wherever we are to exist, may Your Spirit be with us to guide, strengthen, encourage and to send us out. Oh God, it is all about Your glory. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Installed and Restless

This pastor is officially installed. My wife giggles at this because it sounds like I’m an appliance or something.

I just nod and smile 🙂

In any case, I have been installed as the Senior Pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in Puyallup, WA; a LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) congregation serving in the south Puget Sound area. And what a blessing it is to be here serving with these brothers and sisters in Christ. It was definitely God thing that my family and I got connected to this congregation. Yesterday was also special because my good friend, Pastor Dan Taylor, flew out from Iowa to preach and preside at my installation. We began serving our first calls in the same small MN town at around the same time (2 months apart and at different churches) nearly 12 years ago. It was fun to serve with him then and a joy to spend time with him this past weekend; listening to him share the Word of Christ with my new congregation.

And now, as I sit here writing this, I am beginning my 3rd week at Living Word. I am learning more and more names. I am learning the rhythms of the congregation. I am learning the lay of the land. And I am even starting to get used to city life; and that is a huge leap for the small town, rural Minnesota boy. I remember not so long ago saying that I would never ever live in a city.

(cue the chuckling)

Evidence, right there, that God has a sense of humor. I imagine God smiling when I was talking like that, but I am glad God took this small town boy out of his element and placed me somewhere outside my comfort zone. It forces me to fall back and rely on God even more because at times I am scared silly. Driving back from the airport last night in Seattle, I remember thinking, “Wow, everything moves so fast“. But God didn’t place me out here to abandon me, but rather to do something amazing. And for that I am excited. I just hope I never get comfortable here, so much so, that I cease relying on God to guide and strengthening me.

And so I look forward to learning more of what God is up to here. I look forward to getting to know people better and better. I look forward to seeing amazing things. And I look forward to more restlessness as God continues to place his hand upon me as He continues to put me at ease.

Oh God, may I always be restless but yet cling to you. Amen.

The Pastor -|—