Jonah

Below is my newest article for the Buffalo Center Tribune. I am now on a new schedule. Instead of the 2nd and 4th weeks of the month, I will be publishing an article every other week. Not a huge change but it will mean the opportunity to write more often over the course of the year 🙂 To God be the glory!


I realize that we have just finished Christmas, but I am going to say that “L” word anyway: Lent. There, I wrote it. I feel better now, like a huge weight off my chest (sorry, that sounds like I am laying it on thick). Anyway, Lent is coming soon with Ash Wednesday on March 2. Why in the world is this guy talking about Lent in January? Well, the reason I am mentioning Lent is that I am excitedly working on my midweek preaching series through the book of Jonah. You mean the guy who got swallowed by a whale? Actually, the Bible says a “big fish”, but that is just splitting hairs, back to my point.


I have always liked Jonah because he is more like us than we sometimes care to admit. He is a prophet; someone who claims that he fears God (at least that is what he told the sailors on that stormy sea). But yet, Jonah repents (runs away) from God when God commanded him to preach a message to a people that he (Jonah) did not like. Most God-fearing people repent from sin, not God. But admit it, you have run away from God’s call more that you care to admit. You do not have to answer that right now – back to Jonah. Jonah finally goes to “those people” after being vomited up on a beach following a three-day stint in the belly of a big fish. Jonah preaches the message of judgment but is fearful that God will be merciful if “those people” repent. “Those people” do repent and God is merciful, and Jonah is angry. “SMITE THEM, O GOD. THEY DO NOT DESERVE MERCY.” And the story continues, but I will save the rest for Lent.


Sorry to leave you hanging, but my point here is not to advertise Lent (which I am kind of doing) but rather to draw your attention to an important truth: Living in the belly of a fish is smelly and miserable. Well duh, I don’t need a pastor to tell me that. Actually, you kind of do, because if you are running away from God, life does not smell like roses, despite what you may say. Life is miserable and stinky because running away from God never turns out well for the runner, just ask Jonah.


And so, instead of running away from God, run to God – not stopping to smell the roses but smelling them along the way. This does not mean life will be easy. This does not mean that you will always enjoy everything God commands you. What this means is that you will be part of God’s perfect and sovereign plan – a beautiful painting yet to be revealed, even if you do not understand it. But when you see that painting someday, through Jesus Christ, it will all make sense and thus God will be glorified. Do not try to create your own painting; your own story but be part of God’s story; God’s painting. Get out of that fish’s belly you are in and trust God. I promise you; you will not be disappointed. Amen.

Deeper

Tonight is our final Lenten worship service of the year. I will be live streaming from my home starting at 7 PM (Pacific) on our YouTube channel: Living Word Lutheran Church – Graham, WA (if that doesn’t work, use Puyallup, WA instead for the city). The text for preaching will be Psalm 130, “God’s Promise of Redemption”. And so with that, I offer the following liturgy of repentance that I wrote for tonight. To God be the glory.


Redeeming God, my rescuer –
All too often I have tried to go it alone.
All too often I have tried to rescue myself.
All too often I have appealed to the world.
And each time I try, I sink deeper,
and deeper,
and deeper into the mire.
I struggle and claw,
I fight and battle,
but to no avail.
It’s a hopeless cause,
and one of my own doing.
Yet my pride gets in the away.
My stubbornness too often wins the day.
I resist,
I deny,
I forsake.
I forsake Your redeeming and steadfast love.
Oh God, I cry out to You.
Hear me.
Rescue me.
Help me.
I am weak and defenseless.
I am tired and sinking.
Deeper,
Deeper,
Deeper, into the mire.
Help me. Save me.
Redeem me!
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry: I repent…

Repentance for Straying

For our Lenten worship tonight, via YouTube live stream, I prepared this Liturgy of Repentance. I am preaching on Psalm 23 and highlighting God’s promise of peace. Feel free to worship with us at 7:00 PM (Pacific Time). See the church website for more information on accessing the live stream.

http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com

To God be the glory!


Holy God,
Father,
Creator,
Sustainer,
and Good Shepherd.
You give me everything I truly need.
Your provision is unmatched by anything or anyone of this world.
Your supply is endless.
You invite me to come and buy without money and without price.
You give and give and give some more.
For You are the Good Shepherd and I am your sheep.
Yet, I stray from the flock to seek my own.
My wants overwhelm me, and I spurn Your grace.
Fear leads me to stockpile wants that will not save me –
They won’t protect me,
They won’t shield me.
Oh God, I have strayed and gone my own way.
I have sought worthless wants.
Oh my Good Shepherd
retrieve me,
restore me,
revive me,
and lead me in the path of righteousness – repeating Your promises to me. Repeat them without end as I remain in You.
For You are THE Good Shepherd and with you I lack nothing.
All I want is You.
All I need is You.
Keep me close and may Your rod and staff comfort me.
Oh Lord, my God and Shepherd, I repent of my straying.

My Keeper

This is a liturgy of repentance that I wrote for our Lenten worship service tonight. The text for preaching is Psalm 121 as I talk about God’s promise of everlasting keeping. Just think about this: You a sinner – are kept by God – through faith in Jesus Christ. Wow, oh Wow! God is awesome!


I am known by You, for You formed me.
I am known by You, for You knit me together.
I am known by You, for You choose me before I knew myself.
I am known.
I am known by You, for You breathed life into my being.
I am known by You – you know my – everything.
You know my sin.
My failings are known by You.
My shortcomings – they too – are known by You.
Everything – everything is known by You.
And yet – You keep me.
Through Jesus Christ You are my shade at my right hand.
Through Jesus Christ You are my Rock and Salvation.
Through Jesus Christ You keep my going out and coming in.
Through Jesus Christ You keep my life.
My life, oh God, You keep it.
You are my keeper.
My loving keeper.
The sinner that I am – and You keep me.
Oh God, I am unworthy to be kept.
I am unworthy to be treasured by You.
I am unworthy of anything but condemnation.
Oh God, if I am kept by You, I want to honor and worship You.
I want to glorify You.
I want to serve You.
And thus, I confess my shortcoming – my sin – my unworthiness.
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry: I repent…

Your Beautiful Law

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and I am preaching on Psalm 119:17-24. It will serve as a prelude to our midweek Lenten series on the promises of God from the Psalms. In preparation for tomorrow’s sermon, I wrote the following prayer based on the preaching text. It sums up the heart of psalmist and thus I present it you and to God be the glory!


Oh God,
show me abundant compassion and mercy,
that I may live.
Heal my hurts, grant me strength, preserve my life,
that I may not only live,
but glorify You through holy obedience to Your law.
It’s all about You, oh God. It’s all about You.
Therefore open my eyes that I may know.
But I don’t just want to know Your law,
I want to know and appreciate Your law –
I want to see it’s beauty in the midst of the ugliness of sin.
This world is just a temporary place for me,
For I am waiting for something better –
Your holy courts.
Oh how I long for Your holy courts.
Oh those beautiful courts.
In the meantime, as I wait and sojourn,
Hide not Your law from me.
Open my eyes.
Many have turned away from You,
and they are accursed.
But I will not turn away.
Even though they persecute me.
I will not turn away.
Even though they ridicule me.
I will not turn away, rather,
I will meditate on Your statutes,
That I may glorify You in my humiliation.
Oh Lord my God, help me that I may not turn away.
How beautiful are Your testimonies.
Sweeter than honey from the comb.
I desire your Word, so much so,
That they are my counselors.
They teach me how to live.
They show me what is right.
They reveal Your holiness.
They proclaim Your glory.
Oh God,
Open my eyes, that I may obey.
Open my eyes, that I my honor You.
Open my eyes.
I want to appreciate Your law more.
Amen.

Undone

The following is the liturgy of repentance for tonight’s Lenten worship service. The scripture focus is Isaiah 6:1-8 — The Call of Isaiah. God is holy and we are not. In God;s presence; when compared to His moral perfection and purity, we have no standing. In the words of Isaiah, we are undone.

Holy, holy, holy, are You, oh God.
The whole world; all of creation, is filled with Your glory.
YOU are holy and…
I am not. I am but a worm. I am a sinner.
Unworthy
Unclean
In the words of the Prophet Isaiah, Woe is me! For I am lost.
I am undone.
I am undone.
Woe is me, oh Lord, for I have unclean lips.
Woe is me, oh Lord, for I live among those who are unclean.
Woe is me, oh Lord, for I am ruined.
I am undone.
Woe is me.
I am the epitome of uncleanliness.
I have no standing in Your presence, for…
YOU are holy, holy, holy.
But You have made me clean through Jesus.
You have made me worthy.
You have completed me.
You have forgiven me? WOW!
Oh God, I rejoice. Send me. Send…ME.
But first,
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry: I repent…

Mother Hen ~ A Sermon Teaser

The following is the opening paragraph for the sermon that God has placed on my heart…

The love of Jesus for sinners is communicated and shown in a number of ways throughout scripture. His commitment to the mission is put on display throughout scripture. (i.e. Jesus’ rebuke of Peter, his face set like flint). And his power has been made known over and over again. From the beginning, God’s plan has been in effect; a plan to redeem His fallen creation. (“He will crush your head, but you will bruise his heal”). God proclaimed the New Covenant through the prophet Jeremiah. God promised to raise up His chosen one; the Messiah – and He followed through. Scripture is replete with God’s promises. God has proven Himself faithful thus there is no reason to doubt that God will come through again. With all of this being said, nothing and no one can get in the way of God’s plan. Why? Well, God is God and His love will NOT be denied. Luke 13 displays this tenacious love through some mother hen feistiness in Jesus…

I can hardly wait to preach this sermon. To God be the glory.

The Pastor -|—

Crying Out

The theme for worship tonight is the call of Moses. The people of Israel called out to God and God heard their cries. God chooses Moses to be His instrument of freedom and but he resists…at first. Has God chosen you for for a specific task; to proclaim freedom in someway? Have you resisted? Are you doubtful that you can do it? Listen and trust God.

Oh God,
Your people are crying out, and You hear them.
They are crying out from bondage;

lost and alone.
They cry out, but I often know not their cry.
Their cries are often missed by my ears and I perceive them not.
Some even cry out without knowing they do.
They cry out through their actions and choices.
They don’t know their dire situation.
They are in bondage.
They fight and struggle.
They search and search, but they find no relief.
They search for meaning but find no firm foundation.
They cry out, and YOU hear them.
Oh God,
I cried out once, and You heard me.
I cried out, and You showed me mercy.
I cried out, and You sent Jesus.
Your people are crying out, and I either do not hear or refuse to hear.
I confess my deafness to You.
Forgive me.
Heal me of my deafness, oh God, and send me.
Send me that Your people may hear and know Jesus.
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry:
I repent…

The Pastor -|—

Now therefore, go…

Exodus 4:10–12 (ESV) ~ 10 But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Oh God,
through Jesus Christ,
You have called me.
You have called me to Yourself.
You have called me to a new life and to New Life.
You have called me to Go therefore to all nations…
You have called me to bring glory to Your holy name.
You have called me to things that scare the living daylights out of me.
You have called me to suffer in many ways.
You have called me to set aside my selfish desires.
You have called me to obedience.
You have called me,
an unqualified sinner,
to speak of You and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You have called me.
Some days I just want to run away.
Some days I just want to say, “Send someone else“.
Some days I just want to hide.
When those “Some days” rear their ugly head,
Kick me in the butt as you did Moses.
Now therefore go…
And may I have the faith to trust You,
and rejoice in the certainty of Your plans.
Oh God,
You have called me.
Help me to go.

The Pastor -|—

Create in Me

It’s Ash Wednesday this week; the beginning of Lent. The text that I will preaching on is Psalm 51. What follows is some reflections from my heart…

Create in me a clean heart,O God,
and renew a right spirit in me.

for You are my Father and my Lord,
thus I will always live with much glee.
I am broken and fallen,
but You are mighty in love.
I am sinful and unclean,
but You are mighty in mercy.
I am lost without You,
but I shall never fear the pit.
For Jesus my Savior; he saves me,
and so I will offer this one plea…
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and I will praise You on bended knee.

The Pastor -|—