Oh boy…my least favorite day is coming up tomorrow. Oh well…I have one more opportunity to proclaim the Christmas Gospel this morning before the post-Christmas blues hit.
Last night (Christmas Eve) was wonderful. We were greeted with a couple inches of that beautiful white stuff; a sanctuary full of family and friends; wonderful music from our organist and my wife’s family on brass along with a confirmation student of mine. We had the privilege of former students reading scripture along with two of my release time kids and two of my confirmation students. I also got finish leading worship while holding my little girl (who celebrated her first Christmas). And all of this while worshiping our awesome God who came to us at Christmas time in Jesus Christ.
A wonderful night!
Now I am preparing to head out to my country congregation (Belmont Lutheran Church) to lead Christmas Day worship. And that will be wonderful in it’s own unique way.
Looking back on all the preparations, family time, worship, etc, I just don’t understand how someone could possibly look forward to Christmas being done. I will welcome the rest but I will be anxious for next year. In the meantime receive this Christmas blessings from me to you as you worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ:
May the joy of the Christ-child fill your hearts.
May the joy of the shepherds lead you out to glorify and praise the Lord.
May you ponder with Mary all the things that God has done.
May you have the tenacity of the Magi to follow Jesus each and every day.
And may you bask in the awesome love of God.
Have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
The pastor -|—
Most holy and awesome God, with simple but powerful words, you created the heavens and the earth.
With spoken words you called your servants to prophesy and proclaim.
With words you called forth Lazarus from bondage in a tomb.
With words you proclaim forgiveness, life and salvation.
And with words you create, build and maintain faith.
How I am in awe of your Word, for your Word is lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Thank you God for your holy Word through Jesus Christ our Lord and King.
But Lord, I also ask that you may bless my words. Too often we use words to bring people down through gossip and bearing false witness. May our witness be true as it blesses and praises your holy name. May we defend people, speak well of them and explain their actions in the kindest way. May people see our worship of you through our words.
Dear Lord, may your name be praised throughout the whole world and may your word go out and do what it set out to do. Bless this day and may our worship be pleasing to your ears. In Jesus name I pray…
Worship the Lord with all your heart for God is worthy.
The pastor -|—
“Loving God, you are worthy of worship, praise and glory. May our song be pleasing to your ears. May our lives reflect your grace. May your Spirit fill our hearts. In Jesus name, Amen.”
I must admit…this new daddy role has taken some getting used to but it is sinking in more and more with each passing day. There are many things I knew would change and others I didn’t know exactly how they would change. I guess that just goes with the territory. I keep learning and keep adjusting. Eventually I will develop the illusion that I know what I am doing :-)
One of the big things I have been trying to get use to is working from home. The congregation gave me the gift of working from home during the month of May so I could spend more time bonding with Mayah. A couple days a week (when my wife is home) I do go into the office.
When this schedule first started I got a little frustrated because I didn’t anticipate how difficult this working from home would be. I had big plans on how much I was going to get done while Mayah was sleeping.
The biggest problem was that I didn’t plan very well; so the first couple days at home not much work got done. Now…I have planned my week out better and have set more realistic expectations for myself. I have also adjusted my hours so I can get done everything that is expected of me by others and myself.
Wednesday was worship prep and sermon prep day from home. I planned worship for Sunday and did some sermon prep reading and research. Today (Thursday) I am home again but this time I will be fully ready to write the sermon while Mayah is sleeping…despite the fact I didn’t get much sleep last night. Oh well…that’s what coffee is for.
So here we go…another day at home bonding with my little girl and doing ministry here in Jackson. The best of both worlds.
The pastor/new daddy -|—
A prayer for you as you prepare for worship this morning. May God be glorified in your song and may you be fed by the Word:
Holy God, we enter this place as lost sinners; those who have denied you through our selfishness and sin. We, like Peter and the other disciples, have fled from you when given a chance to proclaim your Good News. We are lost sheep, but you have come looking for us. Through the cross you have brought healing. Through your grace you have restored us. Through your command you have sent us. We come now to offer our thanks and praise to you. Hear our song. Receive our worship. And feed us at your table that we may go out and feed the lambs and sheep you bring to us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray, Amen.
And…as we leave worship let’s remember Jesus’ command to Peter (and us) to feed his lambs; take care of his sheep and to feed his sheep.
May God bless your day :)
The pastor -|—
This will be short and to the point…at least for now:
Why do you attend worship with the Body of Christ (that is if you are one who does attend worship)?
Is there anything that would keep you from worshiping with the Body of Christ?
I am curious. Please leave a comment here. I will not judge you.
More to come about this later…
The pastor -|—
It’s Monday morning and I have been doing some reflecting on the events of yesterday (Easter). I feel like a bus has run me over but God was faithful. Satan did his best to stop the proclamation of the Word of God but God was victorious (in more ways than one). Satan took his best shot but it wasn’t good enough.
Allow me to explain to the glory of God…
I woke up Easter morning after only about a couple hours of sleep. A head cold started attacking me the night before. I thought I was holding it off (drugging myself up as much as I could) but it wasn’t enough…I was prevented from getting a good night’s sleep. A bad night to have sleeping problems. But when I woke up at 4:45 a.m. as planned I felt rested. Score 1 for God :)
As my morning progressed; getting ready for the 7 a.m. Sonrise worship service, I could feel the frog in my throat growing. I knew that if things continued to progress like this I would have problems later in the morning. You see…I had three worship services at two sites. I had a long morning ahead of me and I needed my voice. Everything went fine during the first service; but I started to feel my throat have issues at the second service (at Belmont) and a little at the third, but my throat held up…I made it . Score another point for God :)
After my first Sonrise service (at Salem) I usually have very little time to get out to Belmont for Sonrise service #2. Eight miles separates the two churches which usually involves me eating egg bake in the car while exceeding the speed limit…slightly…but not this year. But in preparation for the unknown I have all my Belmont materials ready by my office for a quick grab and go…including another copy of my sermon manuscript. I made it to Belmont with 15 minutes to spare (not too bad…I think that is a record for me). During worship my nose started to run some more and throat was filling with phloem (sorry for being so graphic). And then batteries in my cordless microphone pack died but I was able to make a quick change during the offering without missing a beat (nice try Satan). But attack #3 came during the sermon. About half way through I noticed a problem (besides my nose and throat)…the sermon manuscript I was using was an earlier, uncompleted copy of the sermon. I am not sure how I managed to print the wrong copy. Paragraphs were in the wrong order and I was missing 1 and 1/2 pages. Slight panic set in…and then calm. I proceed to preach and share the Gospel without a hitch. Score a couple more points for God :)
I made it back to Salem for worship service #3 with about 30 minutes to catch my breath. During worship my throat was still being annoying, my nose was still having issues and my energy was starting to run low…but…as I started to preach and preside at the Lord’s table, I felt a second wind. Score yet another point for God :)
All along the way Satan did his best to derail the proclamation of the Good News that Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia! But God was going to have none of that. Yesterday morning was yet another reminder that God is in control and not Satan. I do not take any credit because on my own I would have crumbled under the weight of all that was attacking me. Today…I feel like crap…but Easter happened. The Word got preached. And now I can have some Sabbath rest.
Satan can not stand the fact that the tomb was empty and that Jesus lives. And he will do everything in his power to stop that proclamation but God is faithful. God wins and because of that we too win. Praise be to God :)
Final score: God ~ ALL the points in the world. Satan ~ a big fat 0
JESUS LIVES! ALLELUIA!
The pastor -|—
CHRIST HAS RISEN!
HE HAS RISEN INDEED!
Enough said :)
Have a great Easter day celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us pray,
Loving God, through the resurrection of Jesus, you son, you destroyed death and gave hope to the world. May the words, “He has risen”, speak life to those gathered for worship that they may go out and speak these same words. Bless those who preach and lead worship. Bless those who lead music. Bless those who work behind the scenes. May you be glorified, may faith be created and/or strengthened and may our worship be pleasing in your sight. Thank you, O God, for your awesome grace and mercy. Through Jesus Christ our RISEN Lord and Savior, Amen!
The pastor -|—
I read a good blog post yesterday titled Distracted. It addressed a distressing distraction that has been going on this week; something that has (and is) drawing people’s attention away from what is ultimately important. Do you know what that distraction is? It’s…
…the Supreme Court discussing and considering a ruling about (so-called) same sex marriage.
And in a show of support on Facebook, people have been changing their profile pictures to a red-ish/pink-ish equal sign (meaning marriage equality). As I browsed through Facebook this week I saw a ton of those pictures and a lot of status updates defending “marriage equality”…and all of this in the midst of Holy Week.
The blog post gave kudos to Satan on his brilliant scheme to distract people from the glory of this week. And I have to agree. All of the discourse I read on Facebook was about gay marriage and condemning those who would hold a different view. I read these and I was sadden. But what saddened me even more was that as I look back on this past week I too was drawn in. My thinking was caught up in this distraction. I didn’t post anything on social media indicting my view but I was thinking about it…and being distracted.
So I am here this morning confessing my sin and repenting of my actions. This week is Holy Week. Yesterday was Maundy Thursday where we celebrated the Last Supper with Jesus and his disciples and then walked to the Garden of Gethsemane to see Jesus arrested and then beaten, mocked, spit upon and tried. Today is Good Friday where we will walk to the cross and see how our Lord and Savior died to save us from our sins. He will be buried, but on the third day rise that we may have eternal life. But instead of pondering what our Lord and Savior did for us we have taken our eye off the proverbial ball.
This is Holy Week. Look to the cross. See how Jesus took OUR sin and destroyed the grip of death. See how Jesus defeated Satan and won the victory for you and for me. We are ALL sinners…worthy of punishment and condemnation, but through the grace of God we have forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Let’s keep our eye on the ball people and give glory to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
From the Heart of a Pastor -|—
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it :)
Let us pray…
Holy God, we come before you in awe of you awesome love and grace. Mere words do not adequately express what you mean to us. But we still come here this morning with various concerns and needs. We come here with anxiety or worry; with illnesses or doubts. At times we feel caged in and surrounded by the enemy. But through Jesus you have overcome the world; you have defeated the enemy. Please give us an overwhelming sense of this promise and instill in our hearts a peace that goes beyond all understanding. May we know your awesome love and may you show us your amazing grace once again. Please destroy all selfishness that we bring this morning so we may give you our complete attention; worshiping and praising your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.
We indeed have a great God. May you be blessed as you worship our holy and awesome God. May your faith be strengthened through His holy Word. And may your fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ serve to lift one another up.
May God bless your day.
The pastor -|—