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!
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 -|—
Loving and gracious God, I come before you today ready to worship. Not just during the “organized” time with others but right now and every minute after this. And as I come ready to worship I come ready to hear a word from you. May my heart be ready to receive so that you may be glorified in my life.
Lord God, I also lift up to you all those called to preach your word; those pastors and lay ministers preparing to lead worship. May they be faithful in their task and bold to proclaim your word. It is too often tempting to tame things down so we might appeal better to others, but may we not be swayed by man but be led by your Spirit.
Faithful God, I also lift up to you all others who are preparing for this day. May they, through your Spirit, remember what you have done for them in Jesus and be led to worship; for you are worthy.
O God, you are so worthy.
Thank you for your grace; for it is through your grace that we may have any hope beyond this life. Thank you for your love; for it is through your love that you offer us forgiveness. Thank you for your mercy; for it is through your mercy that we are saved.
O God, you are so worthy. May your name be praised always and forever. In Jesus name I pray…Amen!
May God bless your day
The pastor -|—
This is such an exciting time of the year. I love the worship services and the Christmas preaching. I love the family gatherings and the yummy food. I love the Christmas cheer and even the ugly Christmas sweaters. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.
This past week I have been feeling anything but 100%. A nasty head cold (with a 101.6 temp a week ago yesterday) made Christmas preparations difficult. My wife got my yuck on Wednesday and is still recovering. But through it all sermons got written, worships got planned and God was glorified. Satan did his best to try to derail me but as I wrote about earlier, it was a nice shot but not nearly good enough. Christmas Eve worship was a blast and I can hardly wait to get out to Belmont to lead Christmas Day worship.
So from me and my wife to you and your family, we hope and pray you have a wonderful Christmas as we give thanks and praise to our great God for the gift of Jesus Christ. May the Light of the world bring you peace not just today but throughout the whole year. Let us set aside our differences and seek to forgive as we have been forgiven. Let us re-prioritize our worship that God through Jesus Christ is the focus and not something/someone of this world. Let us find strength and hope in the promise of Jesus’ return as we seek to take advantage of every opportunity to share the Good News with all.
God bless and have a very Merry Christmas!
The pastor -|—
Happy Advent 4 (almost Christmas)!
The Mayans were wrong; and we’re still here (is anyone actually shocked?) And now we get to prepare for a grand celebration as we continue to wait for Jesus. But don’t worry; you don’t have to run around scrambling to find that perfect gift. You don’t have to rack your brain trying to figure out what to give the King of the universe for his birthday. After all…what do you give someone who has everything? You give him the one thing that we can give and the one thing that he desires the most.
That’s what Jesus wants…our worship. And not just on Sunday mornings (or at Christmas and Easter or other times we find ourselves in a church building) but God wants our worship everyday, 24/7, 365 (or 366) days a year. Our worship is all that is desired.
It may not seem like much but God is pleased when we give him everything that we are; when we come before him with our songs of praise and thanks; when we lifts our hearts up to him. For you see…worship is a response of faith; it flows out of your love for God. And if we are worshiping God with all our being…well…God is excited.
Too many people, though, think that worship is about being entertained…it’s not. It’s about giving ourselves to God. And if we are refreshed or encouraged then great…praise be to God. For anything we get out of worship is a gift from God to be used for his glory; to lead us back to worship. So in the end, worship is not about how we benefit but rather what we can give back to God. If you have the mentality that worship is all about you then you’re being selfish. It’s like going to a Christmas celebration with the sole expectation of bringing a great haul of gifts home.
This Christmas give back to Jesus the very thing he desires from you…your worship. Praise HIM with all that you are. Thank HIM for all that he has given you. And worship HIM always and forever.
Merry Christmas and Amen!
The pastor -|—
On Sunday I said some words in response to the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT. It was difficult to talk about this but I knew that something had to be said. I shared the hope of Christmas, that God entered this world of suffering and overcame this world in Jesus Christ. I shared words of peace and Good News.
Following the sermon I asked my small country congregation what hymn they would like to sing next. And…without missing a beat, someone immediately said, “Hymn #781, Children of the Heavenly Father“. I had to fight back tears when I heard that. Here are the lyrics:
Children of the Heavenly Father safely in his bosom gather;
nestling bird nor star in heaven such a refuge e’er was given.
God his own doth tend and nourish, in his holy courts they flourish.
From all evil things he spares them, in his mighty arms he bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever from the Lord his children sever;
unto them his grace he showth, and their sorrows all he knowth.
Though he giveth of he taketh, God his children ne’r forsaketh;
his the loving purpose solely to preserve them pure and holy.
We are indeed his children who are wrapped in God’s loving arms. Evil, sin and death may cause havoc now, but they have ultimately been defeated through the cross.
Praise be to God!
The pastor -|—