Avoiding the Legos

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Walking in a dark room can be a dangerous undertaking, especially in my home; one filled with toys from a 2 year old and an 8 month old. I have learned the hard lesson to never take for granted safe passage through our dark living room. I either use my smart phone or activate the screen on my Fitbit to cast just enough light to guide my path.

[In case you’re wondering why I don’t turn a lamp on – my little girl’s room is right off the living room with only French doors and a curtain to keep the light out]

And to travel through this dark world without the light of God’s Word is also a dangerous undertaking; but for far worse reasons than simply stubbing your toe or stepping on a Lego. God’s Word lights the path of righteousness that we are to walk .

“You lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake”
(Psalm 23:3)

For when darkness descends upon us, Satan is going to be quick to be a false guide to lead you away, or worse yet ~ Your adversary, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour(1 Peter 5:8) It’s only the light of God’s Words that is going to reveal Satan’s evil schemes to deceive you (or devour you).

I can think of a few times in my life when darkness descended upon me but the Spirit led me to the light of God’s Word:
~ After our failed adoption I was lead to the Psalms (lament and praise)
~ After the Charleston shooting last week I was lead to 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.
~ After a rough morning with my 2 year old I was lead to Matthew 4.

God’s Word was indeed a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
God’s Word shined a light on the prowling lion waiting to devour me.
God’s Word shined a light to keep me on the right path when the path of bitterness seemed like a good way.
God’s Word shined a light on the righteousness won for me through Jesus.
God’s Word shined brightly in the darkness to cast away my fears.

So never think you know how to navigate dark times. Just because you may have been there before, never take for granted that you know the path. It’s in that complacency that you will step on the proverbial Lego and turn away. Activate the light of God’s Word in your life to avoid stepping on those Legos as you follow the path of righteousness no matter how scary the path may look; trusting God’s Word and not your fears.

Holy God, I am in awe that you would give us Your holy Word. May we use the light of Your Word to guide our way and trust the path that is revealed. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Lists of Praise

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14 ESV)

Oh God, You are my…
Creator
Life
Hope
Salvation
Refuge
Shelter
Shield
Defense
Rock
Father
Lord
All in all
Sure foundation
Provider
Sustainer
Abba
Peace
Delight
Comfort

PRAISE BE TO GOD!

Oh God, You are…
Holy
Life
Loving
Faithful
Compassionate
Merciful
Forgiving
Just
Worthy
Powerful
Almighty
Wonderful
Caring
Wise
Trustworthy
Sovereign
Truth
Awesome
Righteous
Pure
Gracious
Precious

PRAISE BE TO GOD!

Oh God, I am…
Loved
Safe
Secure
at Peace
Thankful
Joyful
Worshipful
Content
Blessed
a Disciple
a Evangelist
Your child
Your handiwork
Your servant
Your creation

PRAISE BE TO GOD!

Oh God, I lift my praise to You. Keep me steadfast in Your Word that I may never turn aside after false gods. And may I continue to add to these lists for they do not even come close to describing You, oh God. All praise and worship be to You, through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Worship prayers for 6/21/15 ~ Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to fathers of all kinds as God, our heavenly Father, continues to bless and use you for His glory.

I also pray for those affected by the tragedy in Charleston, SC. On Father’s Day (or any day for that matter) we shouldn’t have to deal with something like this hanging over us. But I praise God that Jesus was found hanging on a cross for sinners that His Kingdom may be established, and thus sin and evil ultimately stamped out. So on this Father’s Day, cling to that hope as we praise and worship our heavenly Father.

So with that I commend to you these worship prayers/blessings prepared for today. May God be glorified.

Opening Prayer
Holy God, mighty King, loving Father, we come before You in holy awe; for there is no other response that is close to being worthy. We also come before You in fear and grief and sadness and confusion and anger and a myriad of other emotions we dare not name; but ones You know very well. We hold close to our hearts those who died in the Charleston shooting along with their friends and family members and others who are intimately connected to this tragedy. And today we especially remember those who are mourning the death of a father. We struggle to make sense of things; why in a house of prayer did this happen; why these people; why this event; why, oh God, why? There are so many questions; so many conflicting emotions. But You are a God of peace in a world that is anything but peaceful. So I ask that Your peace may be what wins the day. Grant faith to make us witnesses of Your love in this world and may our lives be a living worship service that brings You glory each and everyday. Bring healing. Build hope. Erase hate. Ignite Revival. Draw people together as Your bring Your glorious Kingdom. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Prayers of Intercession
…For The City of Charleston, SC as they mourn. It’s hard to imagine the feelings these people are experiencing. So instead of us trying to imagine and thus minimizing their grief, grant us empathy that we may mourn with our brothers and sisters in Christ and then work to be grace-filled witnesses in this world that Your Spirit may affect a world-wide, heart-changing revival. Lord in Your mercy…

Father’s Day prayer (based on Tweets from my colleague @rev_david)
We give thanks for loving wonderful fathers, who have given their children so many invaluable gifts.
We pray for all those whose fathers have died, who grieve on this day; celebrating their father in his absence.
We pray for fathers who have made the difficult and loving decision to give a child up for adoption.
We pray for those who were given abuse and heartbreak by the very ones called to love them.
We pray for all who are spending this Father’s Day in a hospital bed or at a hospital bedside.
We pray for the fathers of children with special needs and chronic illness, who know anxiety and exhaustion better than most.
We pray for those who struggle with infertility, whose desire to share parental love is met with frustration.
We weep with fathers who have born the silent grief of stillbirth or miscarriage.
We weep with every father who has had to bear the unimaginable burden of burying a child.
For men who choose to remain without biological children, sharing love with the world, we give thanks.
For far too often overlooked stepfathers, we give much needed thanks.
For uncles and godfathers and neighbors, who share fatherly love with so many children, we give thanks.
We give thanks for those who have answered the call to fatherhood through adoption and foster parenting, who model the adoptive love of God.
We pray for new fathers, with bleary eyes and hope for the future, welcoming new life into the world.
We pray for all men; for showing fatherly love to children of all ages; serving as an example of Your Fatherly love, oh God.
Lord in Your mercy…

Offering Prayer
Father God, You offered Your life that we may live. We therefore offer these meager gifts in response to the enormous gift of eternal life that we have through faith in Jesus Christ; knowing that we can never give enough to match Your gracious love. So may we continue to offer You our lives in faithful witness to others that our living offerings may bring You glory. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Benediction
May you be blessed to be a blessing to others.
May you be strengthened that you may strengthen others.
May you know God through Christ Jesus so well that others see Him in you.
May your light shine bright that others are blinded by His love.
May you show grace and mercy and love that hate and racism are stamped out.
And may the peace that surpasses all understanding sustain you through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Groaning and Sighing for Charleston

This pastor’s heart is breaking today over the senseless killing of 9 people (including the pastor) in Charleston, SC yesterday by a disturbed gunman who felt it necessary to commit such an atrocity. These people were gathering at their church for prayer; lifting up their petitions and cries and confessions and praise to God. These people were gathering in a seemingly “safe” place as they were in a “safe” place.

[54] When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” [55] “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” [56] The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
[1 Corinthians 15:54-57 ESV]

This is the first text that came to mind when I started perusing the news this morning. I don’t know if this gunman thought he had gained a victory by killing 9 unsuspecting people in a church prayer group, but the victory is not his. I don’t know if Satan honestly thinks that he gained some sort of victory by leading this young man to open fire like that, but the victory is not his. Worldly corruption has not gained a victory. Sin has not gained a victory. Despair has not gained a victory.

There are no words that can explain what happened yesterday and why. There is nothing that can come from the gunman’s mouth that will make this easier to digest. There is much that I don’t know but one thing I do:

[57] But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For me, this is the truth I cling to. Yesterday I wrote about Good News in a bad news world, well, this is yet another prime example of the need for the Good News in a bad news world. Instead of trying to make sense of why some man would walk into a church and kill people, go to scripture and listen to God. Don’t bestow a false victory on this gunman or Satan or death or what/who ever. Acknowledge the victory already won by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Place your faith in him and the victory of all victories is yours.

In the mean time, join me in praying for those families who are mourning the death of loved ones. Pray for those who are left with the memories of this tragedy. Pray for the Charleston community. Pray for law enforcement as they investigate and sort through evidence. Pray for all who are haunted by this event.

May the victory gained by Jesus give you hope in a bad news world.

Holy God, loving Father, in a Romans 8 type of way, words escape me and so I ask that Your Spirit may intercede with mine as it groans with sighs too deep for words to express. Grant Your suffering and mourning children the hope of the resurrection and may they cling to You during this time and always. All glory and honor and praise and worship be to You, holy God, through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Jesus Is

Jesus is my Lord and Life;
Jesus makes my dark as light.

Jesus is my Savior now;
He’s the one to whom I bow.

Jesus blots out all my sin;
He’s the one my faith is in.

Jesus loves my dreary soul;
Jesus makes me feel so whole.

Jesus, you’re my all in all;
even when I feel so small.

So…

Jesus, this rhyme is for you;
for all my praise, is your due.

May you lift your praise and worship to God our Father each and every day, through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Pastor -|—

Good News in a bad news world

News

Teen dies after ‘simple, common wisdom teeth extraction’

Mpls. police investigate fatal shooting

Teen charged with murder in toddler’s violent death

Man found guilty of attempted murder at party

Heavy rain from Bill threatens new floods in North Texas

Bad news, bad news, bad news; it’s all around us. And these are just a few headlines I found on the website of a local TV station. And as you look further out into world news, it doesn’t get much better:
~ ISIS
~ Wars
~ Terrorism
~ Extreme poverty/hunger
~ Genocide

Closer to home, your news may seem even worse:
“Your prognosis is not good”
“I want a divorce”
~ “Your position is being eliminated”
~ “There was an accident…”

And just reading those headlines makes me depressed. Sure, there are those feel good stories that the late evening news shows from time to time, but it’s not enough to numb the pain and heart ache that dominates the headlines. A story of a young child saving her mother, who was having a diabetic reaction, warms your heart and puts a smile on your face, but then a following story about ISIS seemingly takes that all away.

Bad news, bad news, bad news.
We need some Good News.

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. [Psalm 112:7]

And then I read this verse from the Psalter; not afraid of bad news. Why? Because of the Good News that the psalmist has in his heart: trusting in the Lord.

The bad news that seems to dominate headlines (because for some reason that seems to grab more ratings) is only truly bad news if your hope is only in this world. If you are putting all your eggs in one basket; putting all your senior officers in one shuttle craft, then there is much to fear when all hell seems to be breaking lose.

But…

If your hope is in the Lord; trusting in His promises, then THE Good News (Jesus Christ) will dominate your headlines and snuff out that life draining bad news that Satan is trying to promote. Feel good stories are great and give us a glimpse of God working in the lives of people, but the ultimate “feel good” story is Jesus Christ dying for your sins and then rising to New Life that you may have the hope of the resurrection. And after the resurrection; no more bad news.

I like that and now I feel much better.
Joy has been restored.
Good News trumping bad news.

So…

Bring on the bad news, Satan, for you can not top THE Good News of Jesus Christ; for it is this Good News I will focus on and thus trust in my God.

Holy God, when bad news threatens to steal my joy remind me of the Good News of Jesus Christ; whereby my hope is placed. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Worship Prayers for 06/14/15 ~ Sinners/Saints

Good morning sinners/saints. Once again it is my joy to share with you the prayers that have been prepared for worship this morning. Use them as you may to the glory of our awesome God.

Opening Prayer
Holy God, to come before Your throne in worship brings a sense of awe and holy fear; for we are sinners; stained, spotted, wrinkled and riddled with uncleanliness. We are unworthy to even glance in Your direction to soak in just a tiny morsel of Your holy beauty. We are unworthy to even utter Your holy name in a desperate cry for help. But You, oh God, do not turn us away; but rather receive us in Agape love. And as we crawl to you and fall at Your feet, You lift us up through faith in Your only Son, Jesus; our Redeemer and Savior and Lover of our souls. And therefore what a joy it is to gather as Your children and praise Your awesome and holy name. So receive our praise and thanks, and fill us with Your Spirit as we lay our very lives at Your feet. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Prayer before Preaching
Awesome God, mighty King, Your Word is too deep for our feeble minds to probe. Your Word is too wide for our limited understanding to navigate. You Word is too weighty for our weak faith to bare. Who can handle such an awesome Word without being crushed under the weight of its judgment? But we are not crushed for Your Word gives life to those who would receive it through Jesus Christ. So I ask that you would send Your Holy Spirit, now, so that as I bask in Your Word this morning, I may be able to impart Your Way, Truth and Life to the sinners here gathered; that they may see themselves as saints through faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Convict my heart and humble me in Your presence. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Post-communion Blessing
Now may the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ embolden your words and deeds as you live as forgiven sinners; saved by grace through faith, and proclaim the life and death of Jesus to the glory of God our Father. Amen.

Prayer after Communion/Closing Prayer
[Charles Spurgeon]
We cry to Thee this morning for the preservation of Thy church in the world, and especially for her purity. Oh Father, keep us, we beseech Thee, with all keeping, that the Evil one touch us not. We shall be tempted, but let him not prevail against us. In a thousand ways he will lay snares for our feel, but, deliver us as a bird from the snare of the fowler. May the snare be broken that we may escape and thus bring glory to Your holy name. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Now may the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, strengthen you for every good work; keeping you humble so that glory may always be to God. Blessings to you this day and always.

The Pastor -|—