Living Waters

In preparation for worship…

Father God,
holy and mighty,
sovereign Creator,
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,
Amen.

Guided Prayer for Churches

The following is my Sunday article for The News Tribune (Tacoma). To God be the glory!


I was recently asked to record a guided prayer devotion focused on churches planning on resuming in-person or on-site worship. So, I include this devotion here, and ask you to join me in praying. Churches are faced with many challenges today and leaders need to make difficult decisions. May God be glorified as we seek to faithfully follow Him. In Jesus name, let us pray…

Father God,
Awesome and mighty,
Always creating – always reforming.
Create in us clean hearts, oh God, and renew in us a right spirit.
For we acknowledge that we have fallen short of Your glory.
We have become anxious.
We have not always sought You.
At times, we have let this virus divide us and lead us into fear.
Cast out our fears with Your perfect love.
Heal our divisions with the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Revive Your Church, so we may more fully fix our gaze upon You, and You alone – that we may worship You rightly and that our in-person gatherings may not be for selfish reasons, but for the glory of Your holy name.
This virus seemingly has torn the Church apart, but we know that is not true.
Whatever the reasons we are going through this time, one thing is clear – You are sovereign, even over this virus.
We may never look the same again, but that is okay, for You are God, and You are in control. And so,
Reform us.
Revive us.
Remake us.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

[Read Psalm 119:8-24]
[Pause to Meditate]

Holy God,
Father and Creator,
You are worthy of all our worship.
You are worthy of all praise.
You are the source of all wisdom and understanding.
You are the great I Am.
And so, teach us, oh God, that we may delight in Your precepts, for we seek to glorify You, and You alone, for salvation is from You through Christ Jesus our Lord. Give wisdom to Your Church as we navigate these waters known only by You. Lead us as we seek togetherness – as we seek to magnify our worship of You. You have held us together and will never let us go.
Oh God, holy and awesome, we praise You.
We love You.
We adore You.

And we want to know You better.

And now, oh God, hear us as we pray the prayer Jesus has taught us…

[Pray the Lord’s Prayer]

Pray, pray and pray some more.
To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen

Fill Us

Come, Holy Spirit come.
Fill us with your peace during this time of chaos.
Fill us with hope as our “normal” has been stripped away.
Fill us with healing as hatred seeks to divide this nation.
Fill us with love so we may see the heart of a person and not their exterior.
Fill us with the Truth that people around us may come to know Jesus.
Fill us with Life that we may not fear the sting of death.
Fill us with peace so that walls may come tumbling down.
Fill us with joy so we may live and work and play together as one family.
Come, Holy Spirit come.
Fill us with You.

Mother’s Day Prayer

I’ve used this prayer before for Mother’s Day, but it is worthy to be shared and prayed again. Happy Mother’s Day and to God be the glory.


Holy God, on this Mother’s Day, we come first and foremost to worship You – for it is through the death and resurrection of Your one and only son, Jesus Christ, that we can have the hope of eternal life. And that right there is deserving of our worship and thanks above all. But also, Lord God almighty, we honor women; those You have used as instruments of Your love in our lives. In whatever form they come, we thank You, oh God. In whatever role they have played in our lives, we thank you, oh God. May women not see the passage of DNA as a barrier to living out their calling to mother someone. And may You continue to raise up Your children through the self-sacrificing love of a mother. To You, oh God, be all worship and praise this day and always. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The King is Coming

The following is the opening paragraph of the Palm Sunday sermon I am preaching tomorrow. The text is Luke 19:36-40 and the live stream will begin at 9:30 AM (Pacific) on our YouTube channel (Living Word Lutheran Church – Graham, WA). To God be the glory!


The King is coming, but is the road paved with your cloaks of homage? Are your palm branches of celebration ready and in hand? Are your voices ready to shout in worship among the crowds so that the rocks have no reason to come alive? The King is coming. The King has arrived. The King is here. And the Church has been deployed into the mission field. We always have been deployed, but now the mission field is in the midst of the battlefield – figuratively and literally. Now, more than ever, the King needs to be proclaimed. Are you ready and willing to loudly pay homage to the King? Let your voices ring. Let you shouts go out. As you lay your cloaks down. Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.

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…

God Kicked My Butt

God kicked my butt today. Actually, the butt-kicking started yesterday as a series of tech problems halted my plans – plans that I thought were brilliant and would be joyfully received by the worshiping community. But when our ways are not God’s ways, well, we are not going to win that battle. You see, up to this point I had been live streaming worship on YouTube from my living room but it dawned on me this past week that I could use the church’s video camera that we use to video record my sermons,. I could record a service on Saturday from the sanctuary, instead of my living room, and then upload it on Sunday. I felt this would be more worshipful – to be where we always held worship. People would be excited and that made me happy. So that was the plan. It would be great.

Take one: So, I went to the church building on Saturday afternoon to record a worship service. I set up the chancel area and positioned the video camera. The sermon was done, and my worship notes were ready. I put on my alb, stole and pectoral cross. I knew exactly what I was going to do and what I was going to say. Lights, action, camera – and off I went. Everything went great. I thought I had hit it out of the park until I went to stop the camera. When I hit the record button again to stop the recording, the counter started – as if I was just turning it on. In panic, I hit the button again, pulled out the memory card and ran to my office to upload the video. No video. The worship did not get recorded. The camera said the card was full but there should have been plenty of room. I got a little frustrated, but I quickly settled down and took this as God’s sign that I should do this in the morning.

Take two: Sunday morning came, and I got up at my usual time. I went through my usual routine and then drove to the church building. I got set up again – lighting candles, making sure my notes were ready, my microphone pack was turned on and I got dressed in my worship garb. Lights, action camera – again. I led worship and everything went great. Another homerun – or so I thought. I went to my office to upload the video from a card that was empty when I started. But when I open the card directory there were three files. “That doesn’t make sense.” I thought. Apparently, the worship service stopped and started a couple times giving me separate three files. Grrr… Strike two on the recording. Resigning myself to “settle” for a live stream, I packed up my stuff and rushed home – praying along the way. “Why God, why? I am supposed to have a worship service ready to go for people this morning.” After some more praying and then some listening, I finally heard what God was saying, “Worship is not an event to watch.” All weekend I felt something was off about me recording a worship service, but I thought it was just nerves about how everything would turn out. Apparently, the uneasiness I felt was God tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Don’t do this.

Take three: With a big smile – as I realized the lesson God had just taught me – I prepared my living room for a live stream of worship – no frustration, no anger, just thankfulness. How could I have been so vain to think I could choreograph a worship service production for people to watch later and then call it good and God glorifying. After getting set up, I prayed some more and just listened. I tossed away the bulletin and just led worship – I don’t think the church in Acts had a worship bulletin. And you know something, the Holy Spirit took over and HE hit it out of the park – Grand Slam!

I wish God had given me a clear Post-it note on my computer or something, but some of the best lessons are learned the hard way. When worship is Spirit-led in the moment, God is glorified. All of man’s efforts to produce something that is too scripted, runs the risk of self-glorification. That is what happened to me. In John 4, Jesus said that the Father is looking for people to worship Him in Spirit and truth. Yes, that is worship and that is what finally happened this morning. Thank You, God, for teaching me that lesson. To God be all glory, honor, praise — and worship — through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

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.

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.

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…