November 1, 2022 - No Comments!

A Prayer for the 7 Deadly Sins

We recognize that you see us, and give grace freely.
We recognize that we need you today and everyday.
We recognize that you, Christ, are our remedy and only hope for healing.

For those of us with greed,
Help us receive your love that is always generous
Be changed by your giving heart
And shaped to share like you do, freely and without reservation.

For those of us with envy,
Help us to see our own blessings
To celebrate the wins of others
Because you are not limited or bound in your love
That we would be content with our portion.

For those of us with wrath,
Help us express righteous and assertive anger
But abandon our fears and hurts that lead us to play god
That we would extend the mercy you’ve given 70 x 7 times.

For those of us with lust,
Help us be healed in our eyes and minds
Restore in us the picture of your creation in our brothers and sisters.
Shape in us the integrity you have, unchanging in circumstance or regardless of who’s watching.

For those of us with gluttony,
Help us seek the gifts you’ve given as a means
Of having more of you, never replacing you
Never giving us counterfeit comfort
Help us walk in the Spirit, that we would be controlled by Him and led by Him.

For those with laziness,
Move in our hearts to have the courage and passion to act
Help us feel the worth of our souls and lives
And let your patience with us move us toward steps of obedience and joy.

For those with pride,
Give us your perspective of our value and worth
Broken, but beloved. Needy but an image bearer.
Let us be "right-sized" in our own eyes,
and enjoy your praise more than our own.

For all these, you are the mercy we need, the grace we don’t deserve, and the hope we must cling to. Thank you for your kindness toward us.

October 17, 2022 - No Comments!

Waiting as Worship: Part 3

The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

Psalm 33:16-19

Let's take one last look at Psalm 33. There's something here that we can't miss, because as hard as waiting is, there's a way we can actually make it infinitely more difficult. Psalm 33 mentions, as it does many times in the Bible, the concept of a war horse. It's a powerful image and a metaphor that God uses repeatedly.

Psalm 20:7
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 147:10
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man...

Proverbs 21:31
The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but the victory belongs to the Lord.

Hosea 1:7
7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.

Continually God makes the point that war horses are powerful creatures, but they are not worthy of our trust and confidence if God is involved...and God is always involved. Kings lived and died by the size of their army. Many of the territorial borders you can find on a world map today were given their distance and direction by a war horse, whether ancient or modern.

War horses would make or break the outcome of a battle in the time of this Psalm's writing. They were fast and strong and carried the strongest soldiers to be able to kill multiple enemies in quick succession. Any thinking (or betting) person in this time would say, these are the things that make all the difference.

This is why the war horse is such a perfect symbol of idolatry. It's the ultimate historical example of our tendency to hold most tightly to our icons of power, provision, and practicality. We want to grab a hold of the world rather than the Maker of it. Trusting in our war horses actually makes waiting on the Lord more difficult, because our power is limited, our vision is limited, and our resources are limited. But His are not.

If you read books like Joshua and Judges, God is constantly showing that the smaller army or warrior often comes out on top. Again, because He is involved and has no regard for our math when it comes to the battles we face. God's economy is not our economy.

Here's something that the world wants you to forget but time makes obvious:

Life can be hard and heavy. If you lean on things that aren't meant to bear the weight of our lives, eventually those things collapse. If your work life or love life or hobby life or even (hold your breath) your family life is the thing that matters above all else to you, you are going to find sooner than later that those things, even really GOOD things can not hold the weight.

And the writer of Psalm 33 says, the war horse is actually not strong enough to save you. It's a false hope. Counterintuitively, freedom comes when you’re not counting on leaders or wealth to win the day.

So then, let's pause a moment: what is your war horse?

I'm really asking.

The best way I know to answer this is these two questions:
1. When you're alone and it's quiet, where does your mind wander?

2. What's the thing that if it was gone for a couple of weeks (or hours) you'd get anxious and depressed and irritated?

The waiting we do as Christians is hard. No coffee cup verse is going to make it easy. But it's possible that waiting is harder for us right now because we've been praising and trusting a war horse, and it's not built to hold the weight of your life.

If you want to encounter the Spirit-led confidence and peace that comes with worshiping while you wait, let your power, provision, and practicality fall down the list. There's a time and place for those things, but Jesus claims the throne of the world, and He deserves the top spot in our own hearts as well.

September 5, 2022 - No Comments!

Waiting As Worship: Part 2

Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22

Do you know what I see in those verses? That it is possible for every one of us to have a glad heart when we are waiting. And it freaks me out if I'm honest.

How can our heart be glad when we're waiting on something we want really bad? Gladness comes (in part) from knowing you’ve seen Him show up before. You've seen Him do it before. You've heard Him say, “watch this!” Then miracles unfolded. Not everyday, but enough times to know He is able.

Ever notice, we do a lot of waiting in our faith? God says, "wait" quite a bit in the scriptures. It's over 100 times. Based on my experience with God, that tells me two things:

A. God is a good Dad
B. we tend to run ahead of Him

If you aren't in a season of waiting now, you might be soon. When that comes, you will have the opportunity to worship in that waiting.

Monday afternoon we were driving as a family to see some friends and I got a voicemail. It was a coach from one of the club teams we really liked. I pulled over. Called the coach back, and he offered my son a spot on his team. I finished the call, and then told the car.

There was yelling. There was cheering. Oliver was smiling his biggest smile. We celebrated that. And even though it's just baseball, and it's just kid sports, it felt like an act of kindness from the Father toward our family. It felt like we could see why God said, 'wait'. We were grateful for His kindness to show us and to answer our simple prayers.

Here's the truth: it doesn't always work out that way. We don't always get to see the plan carry itself out. There's plenty I'm still waiting on in this life, and I'm not confident I'll see the things I am pining for. Many of them are infinitely more important than baseball.

Some of us are waiting for the Lord to do something significant in our lives. We're waiting for Him to provide clarity on our calling or help us make a major life decision. We're waiting for him to provide a spouse or a child we've longed for. Or maybe waiting for someone we know and care about to finally have their eyes opened to the path of destruction they are on, and to know Christ for the first time and begin a new path of restoration and love. We have an ache that fades in and out of our thoughts throughout the week. We're waiting. It hurts.

Maybe its far more urgent or far more pressing than that. We're waiting for the doctors to tell us how long we've got to live. We're waiting to see if our spouse meets us half way and healing can begin. We’re waiting to see if our next visit to our aging parent is the one where they forget who we are. We’re waiting to see if the state rips our foster child out of our home.

Every breath in the mean time feels a bit harder.
The waiting is exhausting. It's not the kind of tired a nap can fix.

If you're reading this I want you to know that Christ is with you in the waiting.

Your body may war against you.
Your marriage may war against you.
But the prince of peace has never left your side.

You may feel like you're not sure you can go another day.
But your days are in His hands.
And you may only have the smallest amount of praise and trust left.
But God can carry you in the waiting.

Even with the smallest amount of faith, even faith that is surrounded by walls of doubt, you can watch as your praise and trust turn waiting into worship.

August 1, 2022 - No Comments!

Waiting as Worship: Part 1

Our family has had a really good summer so far. The biggest thing at the Zim house recently, surprisingly, has been baseball.

Here on the Eastside at age 12 you age out of "recreational baseball". There aren't many opportunities to play baseball until you get to high school, unless…you make a club team. Making a club team means you play year-round. As a parent it means you pay a bunch of money and give up a bunch of weekends, and then sit in the rain watching a sport meant for sunshine so that a grumpy adult can tell your kid why everything you've ever taught them about the sport is wrong.

It's a dream, really.

My son has participated in several tryouts the past few weeks. It's been brutal. From the extreme heat (major heat wave here in the PNW, rare triple digit temps), the coaches, and the sheer group size of 70, 80 boys all vying for 2 or 3 spots on a team.

After all the tryouts were done, my son only had one offer. One is better than none, right?  But here was the problem: the team that gave him an offer, was a concerning tryout. The coaches were talking down to the players, the players were talking back to the coaches. They weren't organized, they weren't sure even who was going to coach the team.

It felt like a big decision for our family. Is this the end of the road? Or do we say yes to this team with toxic culture that would be shaping him and taking our money?

We start hearing from other parents. Who made a team, who didn't, which teams are filling up...the entire next year was being decided. And we all sensed God was saying:


Its been my experience that the three most common answers I get from the Lord when I ask him about something I'm desiring, are "yes", "no" and "wait".

Call it what you want. God's "not yet". A holy delay. Of the responses God can give, most of us don't like that last option because it lacks the concrete clarity of the first two. If we're honest, we generally avoid waiting at all costs.

I don't know what situation you're facing right now. Maybe he's answering your prayers with a resounding "YES". Maybe he's saying "NO" to something you long for.

But I'd bet some of you reading this are in limbo. You're in this middle ground of "not yet".
Maybe you're asking him or you've been asking him for something for a long time. And the light hasn't turned green yet. The psalm we're going to walk through in this blog series is going to be a help to you.

Because praise and trust turn waiting into worship.

December 30, 2021 - No Comments!

A Prayer to Start 2022

This time of year everyone is recalibrating. The end of a year is always rich with introspection, and remembering what goals or plans we had for the last year that happened or fell away. If you listen to what drives that in most people, you can hear the guilt they carry from looking back over the last year and realizing a bit of what 2 Peter 3:8 means when it says, "that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Time passes quickly, particularly when looking back. I've heard the refrain from seasoned parents that parenting is "long days and short years". That's true in many ways for all of us, regardless of whether we've had children.

This song came out around the same time I entered worship ministry (2000ish). It didn't make a huge splash, but it stuck with me. It's a beautiful prayer for any believer that feels the weight of new beginnings. It's a plea that God would recenter us and strip away the distractions we amass so that we can live in such a way that our purpose is clear, and our lives would not be wasted. I want that for myself. Every New Years, this song does a significant work in me, and I would invite you to listen in and let it do the same for you.

October 7, 2021 - No Comments!

The Gospel in One Prayer

Two versions of the Lord's prayer are recorded in the gospels: a longer version in Matthew and a shorter one in Luke. Lutheran theologian Harold Buls has suggested that both were original, the Matthew version spoken by Jesus early in his ministry in Galilee, and the Luke version one year later, "very likely in Judea".[4]

The prayer has been called "the summary of the gospel" and has been a core part of church liturgy since the very beginning. While I reject many of the doctrines from the church that initially recorded this version of the prayer, I don't believe that any denomination or even heretic gets to claim and then taint scripture for their own purposes in such a way that God won't use His word in faithful churches.

I don't think it's essential for every song to be word-for-word from the ESV, and there is massive benefit in songwriters aimed at the gathering using their creative abilities to write songs that speak to real life struggles and celebrations. The word of God interacts with every sphere of life, and I would argue that authenticity (as defined biblically and not culture) is more important now than ever before. Artists in every local church have the opportunity to bridge the Sunday experience and the everyday stuff of life.

If you need a moment to connect yourself to the history of the saints that have gone before us, sing along with this one.

September 12, 2021 - No Comments!

Part the Waters For Me

On rare occasion I run across a song in the worship landscape that moves me deeply. It doesn't happen often. Lots of reasons for that, some of which land on me, and some of which are caused by the great machine we call CCM. In any case, I can remember the first Sunday I sang these words, and it felt like something inside my soul shook free:

You split the sea
so I could walk right through it.
My fears are drowned in perfect love.
You rescued me so I could stand and say
"I am a child of God"

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan and Melissa Hesler

I'm all for theological scrutiny, and I believe that lyrical clarity and poetry are a tough fence to walk at times in music written for the gathering, but I'm grateful that from time to time, a song that was penned from a camp or tribe I don't align with can accomplish something important in my own life and the life of the church.

Most of us struggle with either the imminence or transcendence of God. For me it's always been the former. His greatness and power have never truly been doubted in my mind, much less his presence in the global sense. It's His nearness and desire to bless that's always been on trial in my own heart, despite the mountains of evidence collected over the course of my lifetime to pronounce Him innocent of my charges.

I recognize that God is first and foremost concerned with His glory, and the display of his name and works to the world. But I think His love for us is not far behind, and in a way that's hard for us to grasp, He actually does both concurrently all the time. He's capable of parting the waters for you and I, not because he owes us anything, not because he bows down to us, not because he only exists to make the road easier for me, but because He can be glorified and act in love to make a way for His kids. Not a way of comfort or ease, but certainly one of power and victory.

August 5, 2021 - No Comments!

Question Behind the Question

I've always found it odd that some in churches speak of the hymns as though they were all divinely inspired, worthy of canon, and timeless. As a collector of old vintage hymnals I can assure you there are some real duds out there.

This particular hymn was written in 1836, then brought back to life by Matthew Smith of Indelible Grace in 2006. I've played it for the last decade and it's traveled well. The theologian in me loves the depth, while the musician in me loves the feathers it ruffles when people realize it's loaded with claims about God's sovereignty. I've had many a post-service conversation, thankfully mostly with curious and open-minded folks who want to understand the tension between God's rule and our responsibility. I usually respond by saying that they are both true, and none of us fully understand where the two meet. Of course I have more thoughts on the matte than that, and some think that's lazy for a pastor to frame the topic that way. I think it's arrogant to say much more.

The truth is that most people who have ever posed a theological question of me are most often trying to wrestle through something at a heart level with a head approach. Theology engages both to be sure, but "why did my Mom die of cancer" is a much more honest question than "is God really the one who loves us first?" A large part of pastoring people means listening for the question behind the question. That goes for our own hearts and thoughts too.

July 10, 2021 - No Comments!

Leading a Regional Worship Event

Keeping the theme of partnership and unity going, we were invited to lead worship for the annual Jubilee Worship in the Park event last summer. This last year would be our second and final time doing so. The staff of Jubilee are an easy bunch to work with, and I appreciate their heart to see so many different churches come together under the name and banner of Christ.

Choosing songs for an event with dozens of churches and different denominational leanings is always an interesting exercise, and I find that it's best to press even harder into what would serve the room (or lawn) rather than my personal favorite tunes from recent months. I'm grateful for the team that invested extra time and energy to make sure this could release on time, even in the chaos of COVID-era Seattle.

June 26, 2021 - No Comments!

Easter Together

A few months ago, we joined forces with Icon Church, a plant that came out of Doxa and celebrated Easter together. Their music team jumped in with us, and it was a blast to craft the gathering together. Baptisms, celebratory songs, and a strong message on Christ risen from the grave made for a memorable Sunday.

Partnership between churches is often a strained and complicated thing to pull of: egos, denominational fences, personalities, ministry approach, musical stylings, insecurities, and the list goes on. The prize for working through all that is pretty special, and I have to think that God is pleased when a couple of churches do the thing they sing about.