Father God, You have prepared the Wedding Feast; the marriage of Your Son, Jesus Christ, to his bride, the Church. You have spared no expense for Your glory has no price. You are more precious than diamonds and more costly than gold. Your worth has no number for You are holy beyond anything I can image or know in this life. And though I am a sinner, You have extended the invitation — to me. Through faith in Jesus by the Holy Spirit, You clothe me in righteousness. In the here and now, I continue to walk through dark, dangerous, and scary valleys, but I do so with my Good Shepherd leading the way. May my eyes always be fixated on Your rod and staff; Your holy provision, faithfulness and love. May I stay the course with You; having my soul refreshed and sustained until that day I dwell in Your house forever and ever. To You be all glory and honor through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.
The following is the opening paragraph of the sermon I am preaching tomorrow; Sunday, October 11, 2020, on Matthew 22:1-14 – the Parable of the Wedding Feast. To God be the glory!
We live in the here and now, but through faith in Jesus, we also live with one foot in the Kingdom of God and with our noses enjoying the savory fragrances of the Wedding Feast. We are not yet seated at the table, but the invite has been proclaimed. All is ready. Come to the Wedding Feast. And so that savory fragrance is a reminder of our King’s grace and faithfulness as we live in the hope that everything has been prepared for us. And upon entry into the Feast, a garment will be given. No, not something from Macy’s or dare I say, Kohl’s, or anything else of our creation or effort, but rather something far more glorious. Something that only can come from the King of kings. It is a garment like none other, washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. But in the meantime, our Shepherd sets a table for us in the midst of our enemies; anointing us with oil and refreshing our souls, until that day we dwell in the house of the Lord forever, feasting sumptuously on fine wine and fine food. Come all is ready. Come to the Wedding Feast.
Oh God, You’ve done so much for me.
Once dead but now I am free.
Eternal life You did decree.
Now to You I bend my knee.
Oh God, You’ve done so much for me.
To me You showed great mercy.
To Your arms I’ll always flee.
Through Christ I abide in Thee.
Oh God, You’ve done so much for me.
Your love is to the Nth degree.
My heart is full of so much glee.
It’s Your face that I long to see.
Oh God, You’ve done so much for me.
In preparation for worship…
holy and mighty,
gentle and powerful –
my vocabulary is limited in praising You as I try attribute all glory and honor to Your holy name, but in trying to find words, I spend more time gazing into Your beauty and thus that is not a bad thing. As I worship You
may I find peace in basking in Your love and joy in the hope of the resurrection, through Jesus Christ. As I drink from Your stream of everlasting and living waters, may Your love overflow from my heart and be a witness to this world. Satisfy me, oh God, so much so, that the temptations of the Evil One will fall unto deaf ears.
I pray this through Jesus Christ my Lord,
If you are like me, you want the best for your children/grandchildren. You have dreams for them and pray for them. You try to point them in the right direction and teach them. You want them to avoid the mistakes you made but want them to learn from mistakes that they will make. You want them to be happy, healthy, and successful. Above all, you want them to know peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. But we know this is all out of our hands, and thus we pray and entrust them to our Father’s hands.
The following prayer is from a father’s heart entrusting his children to the Father…
Father God, I pray that my children:
- Will learn their ABCs and develop a love for reading.
- Will learn to play a musical instrument and appreciate the arts.
- Will know right from wrong and live morally upright lives.
- Will respect everyone and serve the needs of others.
- Will be humble yet be willing to boldly take a stand when called upon.
- Will be a lifelong learner and a seeker of wisdom.
- Will seek to know and love the heart of a person.
- Will appreciate the simple things and not lose their child-like wonder.
- Will not lose their sense of humor and never be afraid to cry.
- Will know that I will always love them no matter what they do.
- Will know that You will always love them no matter what they do.
- Will learn to forgive and forget.
- Will value in-person relationships over social media relationships.
- Will love, value and respect themselves.
- Will strive to know Jesus and live out loud in his name.
- Will be comfortable in their skin and know they are beautiful in Your eyes.
- Will pray, pray and then pray some more.
- Will seek Your will for their lives and listen to Your voice.
- Will know, crave and desire Your Word.
- Will know that I will always be there for them.
- Will know who they are and whose they are – a sinner redeemed by the blood of Jesus.
- Will know that I will always pray for them.
All that I hope for and all that I wish are nothing but a father’s dream.
But all that they are and all that they will be is in Your hands, Father God.
And so I raise this prayer to You,
And entrust them to Your sovereign care.
I pray this prayer, in the name Jesus, the Lord and Savior I pray they know.
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.
You are my stronghold,
And You are my life.
You are my fortress,
And You are my light.
Now I may have strife,
And I may have pain.
But faith in my Lord,
I will have much gain.
In You there’s no fear,
For You are my peace.
In You there’s no death.
My life will not cease.
So to You I will run.
In You I will stay.
For You I will live,
To You I will pray.
Sinner I am to a high degree,
But Jesus my Lord, he died for me.
Unworthy I am, I can’t disagree.
“It is finshed!”, New Life guaranteed.
Praises I sing with a heart full of glee.
Worshiping him, falling down before thee.
“He is worthy!”, that is my loud decree.
Jesus my Lord, through him I am free.
The following is an article I wrote for this morning’s paper in The News Tribune (Tacoma). It was something I wrote about a week ago – right when things were really ramping up for many around here with restrictions surrounding COVID-19. Living Word had just canceled the rest of our Lenten services and we were going to discuss the status of our Sunday services (which are online now). What a week it has been, but praise be to God that I am his.
No matter where you go or where you look, you will hear/read news about the COVID-19. Statistics seem to change by the minute. Country, state and county boundaries cannot stop the spread of this virus. The CDC and various state and local health agencies are working hard to keep us informed. Basic health and safety messages are being repeated, “wash your hands”, “stay home if you are sick”, “avoid large crowds”. Aggressive measures are being taken: (i.e. restricting crowd sizes, canceling events, closing schools). But no matter what we do, the virus continues its relentless march like a wall of toothpicks trying to stop a tank. We fight and fight, but the march continues. We hide ourselves away, but it still finds us.
As more and more people experience this menace invading their backyards, the fear factor is rising. “Will I or a loved one be next?”. It seems as if the only thing that can be done is to just sit and wait for the inevitable, like waiting for the invisible man, who has been stalking you, to strike.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like living in fear and therefore…
I WILL NOT!
I refuse to let this virus render me paralyzed by fear. Rather, I am going to remember who I am…
A child of God.
Through Jesus Christ and because I am a sinner: I have been redeemed, I have been claimed, I have been given a new identity, I have been given hope. Through the cross and the empty tomb, I have been given citizenship in the Kingdom of God through the forgiveness of my sins and thus I am protected by God’s holy army. No relentless viral army will touch this redeemed soul. I am His. My creator God is King and Lord. He is sovereign over this virus. He is my loving Father and Mighty Fortress. He is the Rock on which I will stand, and thus I refuse to step off. Satan is wielding this virus to strike fear into people, but I will stand and say, “My life belongs to Jesus! Back off!”
Why isn’t God destroying this virus? Why isn’t God sparing us? Why isn’t God doing something? Well, God is doing something. He’s has my attention. Does he have yours? I really don’t know what God is up to, but I do know, that when this is all said and done, God will be glorified. Why? Because God saves sinners and God is in control.
And therefore, as I repeatedly wash my hands, heeding the advice and warnings of the health professionals I will remember. I will remember that my soul has been washed clean of my sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. Every time I come in contact with water — I will remember and cling to His promises. Water will no longer be a sign, reminding me of the virus I’m trying to ward off – it will now point me to the One who holds my life.
Be cautious. Be diligent. Be smart. But don’t live in fear. Live in hope that through Jesus Christ you are washed clean.
Praise be to God, always and forever, Amen!
The following is the opening to the sermon I will be preaching on Sunday, March 22. The text is John 9:35-41 — the ending of the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. I will be live streaming on YouTube at 9:30 AM (PST). I will lead worship and we will partake in Holy Communion together. “How?” you may ask, well, tune in and find out – just make sure you have your bread and wine/grape juice (or whatever) ready to go.
The church’s website, that will give you live streaming instructions, is: http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com
People who are blind have learned to adjust to their blindness. They have learned to rely on their other senses to help them navigate their darkness. They have resources, people and other aids to help them do everyday tasks. In every sense of the word, they can lead somewhat normal lives just like everyone else. I’ve never been blind, so I am simply speaking as an outside observer – so please forgive any blindness on my part. I have, though, been in dark, dark places where I could not rely on my sight, but rather, on my other senses and knowledge of the environment – like walking through a dark room. But no matter your knowledge of your environment or the keenness of your senses, there is always a stray Lego on which to step.
Now imagine, being blind or in a dark, dark place – unfamiliar to you – and you hear a low, scary growl. That is enough to send fear coursing through the strongest of people – not knowing where to turn. My friends, we are in a dark and unfamiliar place and the low, scary growl is all around us. To whom shall we go in this darkness? To whom shall we place our trust?
To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.