Joy of My Heart

To give thanks and praise to You, oh God, is the joy of my heart.
And how can it not be?
You gave me Jesus to redeem me from my sins.
You defeated sin, Satan and the power of death through the cross.
You gave me the hope of everlasting Life through the empty tomb.
You showed incredible love, grace and mercy to an obstinate sinner.
Holy God, You are so worthy of worship and praise. Time and capacity prohibits me from naming all the reasons. But, I look forward to the day when I will have eternity to name the reasons to praise You.
How can one not praise You?
How can one not raise their hands to You?
How can anyone not fall on their knees in worship of You?
It’s because they do not know You – help me to know You more that my praise of You will bring You more and more glory.
Receive my praise – for it is the joy of my heart.

Shepherds

Shepherds came at Christmas time
to a lowly manger stall.
A sign proclaimed by angels bright,
Good News the angels did chime.

With all haste they ran to see,
a Savior born for all.
Wrapped in cloths for them to find.
They gazed at him with glee.

All who heard them wondered much,
But Mary treasured it all.
As they left they praised our God,
For their hearts had now been touched.

What say you of this Good News?
You sinner condemned to die.
Jesus Christ was born for you.
Receive him and be renewed.

Will you come at Christmas time,
To hear of Love being born.
This is Life for you my friend,
And not just a cute little rhyme.

The Hill

Holy God,
On Your Word I will stand.
On no other place will I plant my flag.
For Jesus is the Word made flesh thus,
To no one but Jesus will I tie my identity;
To no one but Jesus will I cling.
When push comes to shove,
My stand on Your Word will be the hill that I will die upon.
And if I die on that hill,
So be it –
I know my life rests in You.
You are my God and it’s You I will proclaim.
You are my hope in Jesus Christ my Lord.
Many cling to that which does not matter.
May I live in such a way that proclaims that which I stand upon.
Holy God, Father and Creator,
My identity is wrapped in the righteousness of Jesus.
And thus it is Your Word on which I will stand.
It is the hill I will die upon.
To You be all glory, honor, thanks and praise.
In the beautiful name of Jesus I pray,
Amen!

Christ-Drenched Joy

Today, Living Word Lutheran Church is excited. We are excited that we are redeemed by God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord. We are excited that through faith in Jesus, our sins are forgiven and thus everlasting life is ours. We are excited to be serving an awesome God. We are excited that we live in a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We are excited that Satan has been defeated. We are excited that we are children of God. We are excited and drenched in joy.

…and oh by the way…we are excited that we are worshiping (for the first time) in our new building 🙂

To God be the glory!!!

The following is a little something I wrote for Holy Communion on this 3rd Sunday of Advent — JOY.


Yes! Oh Yes! It is right and our pleasure to worship you, to give You thanks and to make much of You, oh God. It is our joy to sing of Your mighty deeds. Through Jesus Christ Your son – the Messiah – You redeemed a lost and broken people through his death and resurrection. You reconciled us back to You and gave us Life. You healed that which the serpent broke and restored that which was lost. Holy Father, Your power is great. Your mercy is wide. You grace is abundant. Fill us again and again with your Spirit to overflowing that Joy may exude from us without end. May the world be drenched in love and be swept away in Your never-ending life. And so, it is our pleasure to join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise.

Facts

It saddens me when churches lose their way and stray from THE mission to proclaim Jesus Christ, born, crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus and him alone is our hope. He is our peace. It is Jesus that gives joy that is untouchable. It is through Jesus that we see the full expression of love, for God is love. Therefore, it behooves us to stick to the facts and let everything else fall into place to the glory of God. The Church is not called to get involved in political advocacy. There are groups that specifically do that. The Church is different and needs to stay different:

Preach the Gospel and let the transformed lives of sinners through the Holy Spirit respond to the world around them as God calls them.
Preach the Gospel and don’t tinker with it – it’s perfect the way it is.
Preach the Gospel and don’t try to make it say something it doesn’t say.
Preach the Gospel with all humility and gentleness but also with boldness.
Preach the Gospel and do not fear the backlash from the world.
Preach the Gospel for that is the only way sinners are saved.

Church – stick to the facts and let God be God.

FACT: You are a sinner.
FACT: You cannot save yourself.
FACT: You are a sinner (did I say that already?).
FACT: You deserve eternal torment in hell.
FACT: You are a sinner (yup, this is important).
FACT: Jesus was born of a virgin.
FACT: Jesus is the sinless Son of God.
FACT: Jesus took your sin upon himself.
FACT: Jesus was crucified FOR YOU.
FACT: Jesus died and was buried.
FACT: Jesus smashed the gates of death.
FACT: Jesus lives.
FACT: You are a sinner (just in case you forgot).
FACT: Through faith in Jesus you are forgiven.
FACT: Through God’s grace you are saved.
FACT: This is indisputable.
FACT: God is love.
FACT: This Gospel is awesome!!!
FACT: You are a sinner and thus you need Jesus.

Stick to the FACTS and you’ll be fine.

To God be the glory!!!

Thanking the Lord

I thank the Lord above that Santa Claus is coming tonight…

Thanksgiving has come and gone and thus the Christmas music season has begun. Overheard on my Pandora Christmas music station this morning were the above lyrics. Being the feisty pastor that I am, I immediately took notice –

thanking the Lord above that Santa Claus is coming tonight.

Hmmm, but I really should not be surprised by this because, after all, that is the mentality of our culture today: Materialism. Children clamoring and begging for the newest toys and gadgets. Adult scrambling for the best Black Friday sales. And apparently buying your spouse an expensive car for Christmas is so common place that car manufacturers produce Christmas commercials urging and supporting such a practice. [heavy sigh]

Yup, people left and right are thanking their lord (notice the small “l”) that new stuff is coming soon.

Each and every year I am reminded very quickly of the mission field in which we serve. You see, you don’t need to create opportunities to witness your faith – those opportunities are all around you. People are begging for meaning and purpose. They are grasping for something to which to cling. Your friends, family and neighbors are thanking the wrong lord. Make it a point this Advent and Christmas to thank the Lord (notice the capital “L” this time) above that Jesus Christ is coming to town…soon.

Yes, Jesus is coming. Through his death and resurrection (The best “door buster” ever), Jesus has conquered death and now is THE Way to eternal life. This is awesome news – that Jesus is coming to bring you home. And that my friends, is the best Black Friday deal around. There is no waiting in line for that. Just receive Jesus as your Lord, confess your sins and receive forgiveness, and repent – giving him thanks and praise.

Every Black Friday deal of this world will fade away and fall into obscurity. Jesus Christ is you Life and Hope and Salvation, forever and ever.

I thank You, Lord above, that Jesus Christ is here and coming to town for me, that I may live with him in everlasting peace and joy. Amen!

Worship!!!

Here we are – Sunday morning – preparing to travel to a location to engage in corporate worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Why? Because God is so freak’in awesome that if you are not worshiping then something is seriously wrong. Jesus died on a cross for the forgiveness of your sins and rose from the grave that you may live forever in eternal joy with him. How can one not worship this God? How can one be ambivalent? Our Creator God is not distant but close, loving and intimate as a father to a child. Our Creator God is not too busy for you but knows every hair on your head – He’s given them each a unique name. Our Creator God reigns on high but lives in your heart.
Worship? Of course.
When? Now.
And so, what are you waiting for?
Worship!!!

[The following is part of the Holy Communion liturgy I wrote for worship this morning. To God be the glory, always and forever.]


Yes, God, it is right and our joy to give thanks and praise to You, at all times and in all places. It is our joy for through Jesus Christ You gave us Your Spirit that we may know the truth of the Gospel – the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls through faith in Jesus Christ. You redeemed us though we are sinful. You saved us because we cannot save ourselves. You love us because, well, You are love. Oh God, our praise and worship is so inadequate in compassion to what You deserve. Our self-conceived works fall oh so short. May we just let go and let the works you have prepared beforehand manifest themselves through us that You are rightly glorified. And so, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise…