Moving

The following is my new article for The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA). It talks about our (Living Word Lutheran Church) move to our newly purchased building (our first building). We are very excited around here and can hardly wait to start serving the Kingdom in our new community.


I greatly dislike packing and moving. Can I get an Amen? Maintaining the status quo is so much easier and less painful, but in many cases, it has to be done and so you do it. Before you start, it doesn’t look too bad but as you get going it doesn’t seem like you are making any progress. Boxes pile up and then more and more items seem to just appear that needs to be packed. And then there is the moving part. Loading the trailer/vehicle and transporting, and then the unpacking. In the process of all of this there is often a cleaning out and throwing away as you discover items you don’t need. In the end, once everything is unpacked and settled, there is a transformation and a new beginning. The pain of the packing and moving is gone and now you enjoy the newness of where you are.

The congregation I serve, Living Word Lutheran Church, is now in the process of packing and moving to our new home on 269th Street East, just off Meridian in Graham. I am excited about our move, but I still need to pack and get it done. My back is already hurting just thinking about it. But I would never think or suggest that the pain is not worth it for I know, once we are settled, our new beginning will be off and running. A transformation of sorts will take place for we will never be the same again. You see, we are not really moving but rather planting a new church in Graham. New in so many ways and I can hardly wait to see what God is up to.

If you are in the area and looking for a new church home, come and check us out. We hope to be worshiping out there before Christmas. But don’t get me wrong, this congregation is not setting up a clubhouse that you must join, but rather we are setting up a mission center, a home base as it were, to advance the Kingdom of God in Graham. We are not looking for members but rather looking to create disciples for the Kingdom. After all, Jesus never commissioned the disciples to, Go therefore and make members of all nations. As Christians, we are to be about making disciples who make disciples and so on. Members of clubs/organizations come and go, but disciples of Jesus are forever.

So, with that mind set, I am excited about packing and moving, even though I will need a couple extra chiropractor visits after it is all done. I am excited about setting up our mission center and then going out into the community to witness our faith to people. Through it all, may God be glorified, praised and worshiped, through Christ Jesus our Lord. With that, can I get an Amen? Amen.

Words

The following is the article I submitted for the church page in The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) for today, October 19. So here you go…


Words matter and therefore it behooves us to think about them carefully. They carry various meanings and paint descriptive pictures. And those meanings can change in a heartbeat depending on the context and whatever situation in which a person finds themselves. I think that is one of the reasons why I have developed a love for writing. I may not be the best at it, and it is definitely difficult at times, but I still enjoy it. And it is supposed to be hard because words are so complex. Thus, it is always wise to consider your words before speaking or writing. Sometimes the situation calls for immediate words, but when necessary, consider them carefully before letting them flow out.

Over the last couple years, I have developed a passion for writing poetry. The poems may not be the kind you would find in a best-selling poetry book, but I still enjoy it. I am not sure how I got started. Maybe a limerick came to mind and I started playing with it. Whatever the case, I enjoy wrestling with words and crafting them together, like an artist choosing colors and shades to unveil a scene that captures the attention of a person. I have also learned new words along the way that convey a meaning better than words I have normally used – just one of the fun side-effects to writing. But there is another fun side-effect – one that has led me to write this article.

When I write, I am usually writing about my relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The side-effect is that as I am contemplating word choices, I am thinking more deeply about my relationship with God, what that means and how to better paint that picture. I find myself swimming in a sea of words and searching for the right ones to share. No word is random but purposely chosen – guided by the Holy Spirit – for the glory of God.

That’s great, pastor, but why do I care about this? That’s a great question, I thought you might ask that 😊

You see, writing has become a lost art. How many times have you sent an email that you wished you could unsend? How about social media? How many posts and/or tweets have you published out of frustration and/or anger. Maybe the words sounded good in your head, but you failed to consider the other person or the context. As a Christian, have your words glorified God? We often write and speak without thinking about our words and how people are receiving them. I encourage you to think deeply about your words. Engage in the discipline of writing when it comes to your prayer life. Write your prayers out and think about the words, but more importantly, what it means that, through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, you have eternal life. The depth of God’s grace is so massive that a myriad of word combinations would fail to scratch the surface of God’s magnificence, but wow, how fun it is try. Let us consider our words – carefully- not just with God, but with one another. To God be the glory. Amen.

Never Alone

Have you ever felt discouraged, attacked, beaten down, driven away like chaff or defeated? Have you ever felt like running away, hiding or curling up into a ball to wait out what’s afflicting you? Have you ever felt alone, lost or hopeless? Have you ever wondered if God actually cares? Have you ever wondered if God really knows what is going on or is doing what He said He would do? Well, you are not alone – and in more ways than one. First of all, you are not the only one to feel this way and second, you are never alone. God, your Shepherd, is always watching His sheep – He is always watching over you. Satan may get his punches in, but Satan will never remove and devour the sheep of the Shepherd, our God through Jesus Christ. And so, raise your voice to the Shepherd, but know – you are never alone, and Satan will never win.


Satan is on the prowl,
Looking to devour,
And I feel so defenseless.
He bites and scratches,
Wounds are appearing,
Injuries sustained,
Energy is draining.
And there is nothing I can do to stop him.
Hopelessness is his goal.
Lostness is his desire.
Oh God, come and rescue me.
Smash out his teeth,
Destroy his goals,
Slay the lion,
Leave him defeated.
Oh my Shepherd,
Keep me close to You,
May Your rod and staff comfort me,
Lead me through this dark valley,
May I once again see green pastures and still waters,
As You lead me in Your path of righteousness;
Healing and restoring my soul.
Satan is on the prowl, but YOU, oh God, are my Shepherd.
And thus, I am yours,
In Your house dwelling,
Forever and ever to worship You.
Amen.

Band-aids and Tumors

The following is an article I wrote for The News Tribune (TNT) of Tacoma for Saturday, August 17. I submit articles for their church page each 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. This one was inspired by the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. We have a serious issue in this country and world, but it is not what many are talking about.

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With my kids getting older and more active they are collecting more and more skinned knees, cuts and scrapes. When injuries occur, we give them the necessary TLC and, of course, a band-aid. It makes no difference if there is bleeding or not, they want a band-aid. It’s amazing really, the power of the band-aid. As soon as it is applied, something magical seemingly happens. The tears begin to stop, and they are ready to go back to their previous activity. Obviously, I would never use this treatment on a more severe injury such as a broken bone. That requires more intensive intervention and professional help. To slap a band-aid on a serious issue is short-sighted and irresponsible. If only the world would take this truth to heart.

Recently, this county has mourned, yet again, more mass shootings. Both horrific events that have affected the lives of many for years to come. But along with these tragic events comes political grand-standing, finger-pointing and empty promises that have no hope of healing the problem. Just peruse social media after such an event and you will quickly see and read the rhetoric. It is sickening and sad to see how people don’t understand what the deeper, more severe issue really is. Simply applying a band-aid won’t help, yet that is what continues to be suggested, even demanded. Now before you think that I am going on a political gun control rant, allow me to put you at ease.

I don’t discuss politics.

The issue we are facing with this country is not a simple knee scrape that can be healed with Neosporin and a band-aid. What we are facing is a fast-growing tumor that needs professional help. Guns are not the issue but rather the heart. We are sinners and thus if you take the guns away, sinners will just find other ways to mass kill people. The band-aids that politicians are suggesting will only make them look good for a short time, but then other band-aids will need to be applied, after more finger pointing and blaming. It is a never-ending, vicious cycle.

So, what’s the solution, pastor?
Great question, thanks for asking.

The solution is Jesus. It begins with the Church faithfully preaching the Word of God instead of the social justice garbage that many proclaim as gospel truth. It begins in the home with mom’s and dad’s providing a loving, stable and safe environment for their kids; not allowing video games and the media to serve as their nanny. It begins with leaders rallying people together to heal, dialog and seek the will of God, rather than fighting and finger-pointing their way to prominence.

People, we have a vicious tumor. And if we don’t deal with it, it will eat us alive. We need to put away the band-aids and seek Jesus, the Great Physician. We need to come together instead of building walls. We need to humble ourselves and toss away our agendas. The only hope that we have is Jesus. Period. Seek him and find healing. Amen.