Washed Clean

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!

Blindness

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.

Forever and Ever

To You be the glory, forever and ever,
To You be the glory forever.
What a joy it is to proclaim Your story.
For You have made it my own.
You saved this miserable wreck of a sinner,
You redeemed this long lost life.
You rescued this life from the grips of death.
You rewrote my future story.
To You be the glory, forever and ever,
To You be the glory forever.
Through Jesus my Lord I stand on the Rock,
Through Jesus my Lord I am saved.
You have washed and cleaned my sin-stained clothing,
You have crushed the Deceiver’s head.
You have snatched me from the lion’s mouth.
You have secured my life in Yours.
To You be the glory, forever and ever.
To You be the glory forever.
I will worship Your name through Christ my Lord.
To You be the glory forever.

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.