Tag Archives: Worship

A Christmas reflection and blessing

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 -|—

Worthy

“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.”

Satan attacks but God wins

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

Attack #1:
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 :)

Attack #2:
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 :)

Attack #3:
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 :)

Attack #4:
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 -|—

Let us rejoice!

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 -|—

Use us

A morning prayer as you prepare for your day.  May you know the blessings of God and wonders of his awesome love.  Let us pray…

Loving and gracious Father…you have given us a mighty task; to use our spiritual gifts for the common good.  But too often we are swayed by the world to promote ourselves therefore misusing those gifts.  Please grant us the faith to see what you have done for us so that we may do everything in our power to use what you have given us for the common good.  May we not be so selfish, conceited, arrogant or puffed up that we miss golden opportunities to advance the Gospel.  And…as we use our gifts, may you be glorified in all that we do and say.

Awesome God ~ I lift up to you this morning all who preach your Word.  May they be faithful to the Word and proclaim your promises through Jesus Christ with boldness and confidence. May those servants not conform to the world but be instruments that transform the world by the renewing of hearts and minds.

Faithful God ~ I also lift up to you all those who will hear your Word this morning.  Create faith where it is lacking; strengthen faith where it is weak; renew faith where it has grown stale.  May the power of your Word do its thing as it leads us out to advance the Gospel.

Oh God, you are an awesome God.  You saved us.  You remade us.  You gave us hope through Jesus Christ.  May you be glorified for you are worthy.  All praise, worship and honor be to you, Oh God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!

The pastor -|—

What to give Jesus

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.

Our worship

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 -|—

Nice shot…NOT

This is my crazy weird day:
~ Home desk top computer is shot.
~ Home lap top power cord is shot.
~ Church office laser printer shot.
[These first three items brought about 6 trips to my local computer store (spread throughout the day).  The children's Christmas program is on the home computer so this was a high priority item]
~Worship prep in the midst of a number of phone calls
~ A fun visit with 2 local pastors over lunch
~ A piercing headache
~ Laser printer set-up
~ Met the locksmith about the broken lock on the narthex door

Therefore…

…very little sermon prep got done :(

Now I am hungry; struggling to focus and other things are planned for tonight. That my friends is what I call Satan’s best shot at derailing this sermon.  But you know what…

…not going to happen.

This sermon will be preached because God’s Word can not be derailed by a plethora of mishaps and to-do items.  It may look like I am procrastinating but the very act of writing about this post is therapeutic.  It is getting the creative juices flowing and allowing me to let go of this crazy day.  I could easily get cranky about my routine being interrupted but I just need to take a step back…take a deep breath…and remember who’s I am.

bullseye

 

Satan took his best shot (I’ll give him credit for that), but it was not good enough.

 
Maybe the sermon won’t get written today (Thursday) as usual but God is bigger and God ALWAYS wins.

The empty tomb is proof of that :)

So here I go…diving into scripture again as I eat some supper.  Routine or not; computer failures or not, I will boldly proclaim the Word of God on Sunday morning.

Come Holy Spirit…inspire me :)

Praise be to God and Amen!

The pastor -|—

Holy buzz

We tried something new yesterday at Salem.  Shocking…Lutherans trying something new.  Wow :)

Anyway…what we did for the first time was have coffee fellowship time BEFORE worship.  I know that this is not a revolutionary thing as I have experienced this at other churches in the past, but it was new for us.  And from what I heard from a number of people this was a big hit.

[By the way...I take no credit for this idea.  I wish I could.]

When people arrived they seemed pleasantly surprised by the crowd in our small narthex.  When I told them about the coffee time a smile quickly formed on their face :) Many people grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to visit.  Before long there was a holy buzz in the narthex.  People were talking and laughing.  One of the cool things I noticed was that there were people participating in this holy buzz that normally don’t stay after worship for coffee fellowship time.  That put a smile on my face :)

At about 10:10 a.m. (worship begins at 10:15) I began to wonder how I was going to break up this holy buzz.  I almost wanted to have worship out there in the narthex (but there were people in the sanctuary waiting to begin).  So I walked inside; waited for the organist to stop playing; and I starting talking.  People quickly filed in as I shared the morning announcements.  It was a smooth transition.

As worship continued I quickly noticed something else (something others shared with me later).  There was a different kind of “energy” in the sanctuary.  It’s hard to explain but that pre-worship holy buzz drifted into the sanctuary and something happened.  One person said, “It felt warm“, and I would agree. Following worship some people continued to hang around in the narthex for another cup of coffee and another quick treat.

More holy buzz.

All in all it was a great morning.

I think it is so easy to take Christian fellowship for granted.  Worship, scripture reading and prayer are important and essential but so is taking time to visit and listen to people.  I know we can not recreate last Sunday but I think it is safe to say that pre-worship fellowship time is going to continue…and definitely with my blessing.

edh -|—

My whole self – a prayer

Loving God, today is about you…actually, everyday; every moment, is about you, but today is different… 

Today we gather for corporate worship.
Today we gather to sing our praises and offer our thanks to you.
Today we will hear your Word read and proclaimed.
Today we will confess our sins and hear about your forgiveness.

And what makes all of this even more special is that we get to do this with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ…and maybe some others who do not happen to know you but still find themselves at worship.

So much going on.
So much to think about.
But so many distractions.

Loving God…you are worthy of my whole self.  Please do not let Satan take a part of me away; for I want to give every part to you. I want to worship you with my whole being.  I want to focus my entire attention on your love.

Calm my heart, energize my spirit, tune my hears and sharpen my eyes that you are all I see, hear and think about.  

O Lord my God, you are worthy and awesome.

May my life be an act of worship to you…in Jesus name I pray.

AMEN!

edh -|—

Majestic!

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
[Psalm 8:1]

What a great refrain.

It is a phrase of submission to God.
It is a phrase of humility (on our part).
It is a phrase of worship.
It is a phrase of Truth.

Our God is majestic…and wonderful…and great…and loving…and forgiving…and merciful…and sovereign (and the list could go on).  So that phrase from Psalm 8 just seems appropriate.  God is our Creator so no one or no thing is above God for what created thing can be above that which created them.

Our Lord is majestic and worthy of all praise.

So the question is: How are you praising God today?
Or maybe the question is: Are you praising God today…and everyday?

For me ~ there is no one who can do what God has done or will do.  No one can save me like God through Jesus Christ.  No one is as patient with me as God is.  No one loves me as God does. No one is as mindful of me as God.

No one!

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

May God bless your day as you bask in the glow of His radiant love.  Praise be to God…Amen!

edh -|—