Monthly Archives: April 2016


We praise you O God! We proclaim you to be the God of salvation.
You Father, are praised and worshiped by all of creation.
The holy angels, the cherubim and seraphim sing their praise.
The hosts of heaven stand together. Their joyful songs they raise.

The Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs praise your holy Name.
“Holy is God almighty!” They proclaim.
The Holy Church throughout the world gives you hour and glory.
Your faithful people go forth and give bold witness to the Gospel story.

Father, we worship you who is seated in infinite majesty.
We your people stand in awe of your great glory.
Blessed are you Father, who is one with the Spirit and the Son.
Holy is the blessed Trinity, three persons united in one.

Jesus blessed Son, you humbled yourself to be born of a Virgin Mother.
You laid aside your royal robes to become our servant and our brother.
When you had overcome the powers of death and the grave.
You were raised up in victory with power to redeem and save.

You are seated in power and you have redeemed your own.
The saints and angels bow and worship before your golden throne.
Your people rejoice that you have destroyed the power of sin.
Believers look with joy to the day when you shall come again.

We bless the Holy Spirit, our Counselor and Guide.
Through His presence, Your peace shall always abide.
The Holy Spirit guards and keeps us in all our ways.
He with You and the Father is worthy of all praise.

Help O Lord, Your people whom you have saved. Keep them in love.
Do not forget Your people, number them with the saints above.
Be our everlasting strength and hope. Keep us from all sin.
O Divine Trinity, we praise You without end.

O Lord, save Your people and govern them all their days.
Day by day, Your people magnify and sing Your praise.
Grant O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, may Your goodness and mercy never end.

We trust in You and cling to Your Divine mercy.
Let Your grace always be upon us. Guide us on to eternity.
In You have we trusted, and forever we bless Your name.
O Lord, help us to remain faithful. Let not our faith be put to shame.

Michael Carter


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Jesus, Our Living Hope.

The Lord is my Shepherd, who in kindness leads me to quiet rest.
Because of His tender care. I am richly blessed.
He restores my strength and revives me when I am weary.
He gives me light to guide me when the path grows dreary.

Like a faithful Guide, He leads me along the journey each day.
His Word and Spirit point me goal, lest I stray.
Though at times I walk through dark valleys, I have no fear.
I go in peace and joy, knowing that He is near.

He provides for my needs and pours oil of blessing over my head.
As I sleep, He sends angels to stand guard around my bed.
The Shepherd never sleeps, but guards me from all harm.
When I stumble, He upholds me with His might arm.

He spreads a table of blessings before me and feeds me with love.
His eye is always upon me, watching from heaven above.
Goodness and mercy shall follow me and I am forever blessed.
In the arms of the Divine Shepherd., I will find peace and rest.

Michael Carter, from the book; Songs of the Shepherd.

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Punching Holes In The Darkness


In nineteenth century London, a young boy was in his bedroom. It was a dark and quiet night. He watched a man lighting the gas street lamps. The man climbed a ladder to light the lamp and then climb down taking his ladder to light the next lamp. When he had finished, the whole street was illuminated with bright light that broke through the darkness of the night.

His mother entered the room and saw him staring out the window.

“What are you doing?”

The boy turned to his mother and smiled.

“Mama, I’m watching a man punching holes in the darkness.”

There are many people who sit in spiritual darkness. They sit in the darkness of sin and unbelief. These people won’t acknowledge that they need to be brought out of the darkness and embrace the saving Light of Christ.

The Bible declares that the Light has come into the world. Jesus is the Light who brings all people out of the darkness of sin and death.

All who trust in Jesus walk not in the darkness, but in his saving Light of grace. Jesus is the Light that shines in the world and brings life and peace.

There is much darkness in the world. Many people walk in darkness and need the Light of Christ to shine upon them. In the darkness they struggle with sin, hopelessness and despair. The Light of Christ gives peace, joy and life.

The task of the people of God is to daily ‘punch holes’ in the darkness of the world. The Light of Christ brings renewal and hope to a world which needs the message of the Gospel. Through the ministry of the Church, many can brought out of the darkness to the Light of Christ.

The Gospel can break through the darkness and bring life. May the Lord empower his to declare the Gospel to the world and to bring his saving Light to all who sit in the darkness. May the Lord use us to ‘punch holes’ in the darkness.

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Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Bruges

One evening, a pastor visited one of the members of his congregation at his home. Bill had been a faithful member of the congregation for many years. He was dying of cancer, yet he never lost his love for the Lord Jesus.

The two men spent many hours discussing the faith and Bill’s illness. During their conversation, Pastor asked Bill a question.

“Bill, after your death, what would you say if you were sent to hell instead of heaven?”

This seemed like a strange question to ask Bill. Pastor had an idea what Bill would say, but he wanted to hear Bill’s answer. He knew that he would not be disappointed.

Bill wasn’t upset by the question. He smiled and looked at the pastor.

“Pastor, I’d sing a hymn and I’d declare that Jesus is forever precious. I will never stop saying it.”

The pastor took Bill’s hand, a tear trickled down his cheek.

“Bill, you trusted in Jesus all your life and as your life is about to close on this earth, I know that in the courts of heaven you’ll join with the sacred assembly and declare that Jesus is forever precious.”

What a wonderful testimony of faith! Jesus is truly precious. He freely gave of himself for the sins of the world and his blessings are precious and wonderful.

He is the precious foundation of all faith. The Prophet Isaiah wrote;

“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion a stone, a precious stone of a sure foundation: Whoever believes will not be in haste.”(Isaiah 28:16)

Jesus is that precious stone upon which faith is built. Those who stand on this foundation and trust in him will not be disappointed.

Faith in Jesus is a precious gift worked in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. May we hold fast to this faith and through all the circumstances of life declare as Bill did; Jesus is forever precious!”

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I served as a Lutheran pastor in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-1993. Beale Street in downtown was my favorite place to visit for relaxation. This is great place to eat ribs and listen to Blues music at one of the many clubs on Beale Street.

I have listened to many Blue songs, and have read about the lives of Blues performers. Their music reflected the struggles and pain of their lives. Blues music is enjoyable, but it can be sad, full of broken hearts and shattered relationships and disappointments in life. There is a connection between the performers and their listeners. The performers sang about what most people are feeling in their lives.

When I was living in Memphis I heard people use the phrase; “Sing the Blues.” They were talking about the struggles that they were going through. They were also talking about people who had caused them sorrow. The burdens and the broken relationships cause them to be weighted down. Their life is not a song of joy, but one of sorrow. They look at their lives and “sing the Blues.”

Have there been times when you’ve felt like “singing the Blues?” If you have, you are not alone. There are many people who are experiencing pain and hurt. When we sing the blues in our lives, we take our eyes off of the One who is able to turn our lives into a joyful song. When we “sing the blues” we allow the devil to steal joy and to silence our songs of praise. God changes all of this. God can take us from singing the blues and give us reasons to sing praises.

Jesus is our song of praise. He has opened the way of salvation to all believers. He has promised to give us his abiding presence and strength. We can sing of Christ as Scripture says:

“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”   (Ex.15:2)

We sing because through faith, we have salvation. We have strength for the journey. The journey might get rough sometimes,  Jesus still fills us with joy. 

The Holy Spirit puts a new song in our hearts. It is a song of thanksgiving. The Psalmist wrote:

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:3)

He fills our hearts and mouths with songs of thanksgiving and praise. Songs of thanks for all of the rich blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Songs of praise because God is so  good to us. These are the songs that we sing in the divine liturgy and in our daily lives.

Sing your songs of praise throughout the journey. There will be times when you’ll want to sing the blues. Sing song of praise instead. Sing your praises to the Lord, who has saved you and blesses you each day.

As we sing our praises, others will hear our song. Through our songs of praise, we bear witness to our faith. Scripture declares;

“Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare among the nations his marvelous deeds among all people.”(Ps. 96:2-3)

Sing your song of praise! Sing because others will hear and sing along. No matter what comes, just keep singing the praises.

Let’s leave singing the Blues to the performers. Let’s not sing sad songs in our everyday lives. Life has so much to offer. There are so many good things that God has done and will do. There are too many dreams and goals to be fulfilled. Singing sad songs would limit faith and hope. It would only bring things to a grinding halt. Even in the tough times, the Holy Spirit can put a song of joy in your heart when you feel like “singing the Blues.”


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There will times in our lives when we will have “scars.” These are events which affect our lives in profound ways. Events will occur and challenge us in many ways. The results lingers for a long time, even a lifetime.The events which occur can be so over-whelming that they leave “scars” pain and disappointments that tear at the soul. If we allow them, the pain and disappointments can control us and cause feelings of bitterness and hopelessness.

The scars of life will come, but they need not remain. God’s power is greater than the pain that we suffer. God reminds us that He will bring us through the rough times. God is a God of healing and of restoration. He is able to work all things together for good.(Romans 8:28)What might be painful scars, God is able to turn into bright stars.

We are not promised that we will not to bear scars. The scars come in different forms. There are people who overcome the challenges and move on. Others never move forward and their struggles cause them torment. Those struggle with their scars want healing, restoration, and peace.

The pain of scars sometimes never seem to heal. Are there scars in your life that never seem to go away? Has there been a painful experience that is tormenting you now? Have you wondered if there’s going to be healing and peace? Maybe you’ve struggled with your faith and have wondered why God hasn’t given you peace.

If there is no healing for the hurt and pain, then feelings of hopelessness and defeat remain. We can either allow these feelings to remain or we can rise above these feelings. We cannot do this on our own. God is able to bring us through the dark days. With faith in Him, we find healing for the scars.

God gives healing for the scars that we bear. God first healed the scars that were left by sin. How was this done? He did this through the cross of His Son, Jesus. Through the blood of Jesus, there is healing. Through faith, we have the healing balm of forgiveness and the peace of Jesus.

God is able to heal the scars which come into our lives. God knows what to do with our scars. He won’t let them fester. He’ll bless, heal, and restore us. He’ll turn our scars into stars. He’ll make us shine through all the struggles. When we shine bright, we can give witness to others about the grace and restorative power of God. Let God take your scars and turn them into stars.

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The damaging effects of negative thinking.


Negative thinking confronts us everyday. In the media and in political campaigns, there is a great deal of negativity which turn people. Negative thinking and behavior limits people’s abilities and the opportunities for progress and cooperation.

I have battled with negative thinking over the years. I know on a personal level the damaging effects of negative thinking. I have found strength to overcome negative thinking through prayer and leaning upon Jesus Christ.

For seven years, I served as a correctional chaplain at two jails in St. Louis, Missouri. The people with whom I had served came out of negative situations. Many struggled with addictions, poor education and low self-esteem. Their view of their world and their prospects for the future were often negative. Such an environment has a powerful effect. This affects all who are involved. Despite the circumstances, I tried to offer words of hope and direction. The time spent here and in other places where I had served in ministry took their toll upon me and left me drained in body and mind.

During the years spent in congregational and correctional ministries, I’ve seen the dangers of negative thinking. Negative thinking has also greatly affected my own life in a personal way. I have suffered from depression and at one time abused alcohol. The truth is, negative thinking drags a person to the pit of hell.

There are many people who struggle with negative thinking. It consumes their lives and affects them in so many ways. It affects how they behave and their interactions with others. It does more to tear down then to build up.

Negative thinkers are not fun to be around. They are depressing. They see only the worst every situation. They never have anything good nor positive to say, and this affects their behavior and their view of the world. In their misery, they drag others down with them. Their negativity can be seen on their faces. Some of these people look as if they had been weaned on a pickle. The best thing to do is to pray for them. Don’t allow negative people to poison your life nor steal your joy.

There is no joy or hope with negative thinking. It prevents people from dreaming and reaching their potential. It keeps people stuck in a rut of hopelessness. This way of thinking causes people to be timid rather than bold. Those who are negative thinkers like to play it safe. They don’t want to take risks or step out on faith.

People fall into despair because of negative thinking. It leads to substance abuse and even suicide. It is damaging because it causes people to take their eyes off of the Lord and pushes out faith. Hope is replaced with doubt and confidence is replaced by fear. Negative thinking affects people as wells as organizations such as a Christian congregation. When it affects a congregation it can harm the ministry and keep a church from moving forward in faith.

When negative thinking is allowed to creep into our lives, it is hard to see the blessings before us. Negative thinking can keep us from taking hold of the opportunities that are before us. Some people believe that they are powerless over negative thinking. The good news is that there is Someone who can transform our minds and change our lives.

God is not a negative thinker. He has positive thoughts towards us.(Jeremiah 29:11) His thoughts are for our welfare and our well-being. His thoughts are about giving us a hope and a future. When humankind fell into sin, God’s thoughts were for the positive. He set forth his plan of salvation. He sent his Son Jesus to bring peace and salvation. The Son gave of himself on the cross and his death and resurrection have positive results for us. Through faith in him, there is life, forgiveness, salvation and peace. This is a positive reality that gives joy and strength through all the circumstances of life.

The Holy Spirit strengthens us in faith and hope. He keeps our eyes focused on Jesus and reminds us of his promises to always be with us. When situations appear overwhelming, the Spirit reminds us to look to Jesus.

A positive faith finds strength to press on. Through Jesus, we can do all things (Phil.4:13)We can make it through the journey. The Holy Spirit has a way of taking our negative thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts. He changes our grumbling into praise. He does this by pointing us to the promises of Jesus.

Will we still have challenges along the journey? Indeed, we will. Will the devil and the world try to bombard us with negative thoughts? They will. There will be struggles and doubts that will come. All this happens, but Jesus invites us to cast those cares on to him.(1 Peter 5:7) He will take care of it.

Don’t allow negative thinking to cripple you or hold you back. Don’t allow negative to make you timid or over-cautious. Go forth in faith in Christ. Trust in him to guide you through the journey.

You’ll have your share of setbacks. They might slow you down, just keep pressing on. Press on and seize your dreams. Use the gifts God has given you and live up to your potential. When negative thoughts and the devil speaks to you, don’t listen. Listen to the voice of the Master. He has good things planned for you. He’ll guide you safely through the journey. Along the way, you’ll be changed. Hold on to the Master, you’ll from the danger of negative thinking to the joy of a positive faith.

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