When It's Time to PAUSE
When It's Time to PAUSE

John A. Murphy, Jr. • September 05, 2022

Do you take time to rest? When you go on vacation do you plan extended times to rest or do you plan every moment so that when you get back you need to rest up from your vacation? If one were to look at your calendar are there spaces for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation or does it look more like a coloring book with every space colored in.

We don’t pause often enough in our schedules, and our schedules get busier.

I’m a big fan of the Olympics and am in awe of the dedication of these athletes to their sport. In the 1920’s and 30’s an Olympic athlete that was considered obsessive might train 3 days per week. Today our middle school and high school athletes train more than that. By the 80’s many trainers thought a 7 day training regimen was required. For some this worked, but for most it actually made them more prone to injury.

The current trend is to train hard and have at least one rest day each week. Hmmmm....that sounds sort of familiar. Ex 20:8-10

Exodus 20:8–10 (ESV)

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.”

I’m told that when we’re working out we’re actually tearing our muscles apart. This is one reason why our muscles swell after a workout and we might look more muscular than when we’re at rest. At the microscopic level we’re actually tearing muscle fibers and as they heal they reinforce and build our muscles.

This is why you will hear of people doing regular workout talking about leg day, or upper body day etc. They are working parts of the body and allowing the other parts of their body to rest and rebuild, and that’s what pausing does. It gives us time to:




So we’re going to use the word pause as an acronym to think about what it means to rest.

P - A - U - S - E

P is for


In the Gospel of Matthew we read:

Matthew 3:1–3 (ESV)

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ ”

Prepare the way of the Lord., In a real way that is what we’re doing when we pray. As an Eagle Scout I know the importance of “Being Prepared”.

The truth is when you prepare you get ready for what lies ahead - the good, the bad and the ugly. Years ago I read a quote that I like; it said, “If you don’t have time to do it right when will you find the time to do it over.” That did not say, “if you don’t have time to do it perfect...” The truth is most procrastinators have a bit of perfectionism in them.

We’ve got to take time to PREPARE. The average adult makes 35,000 decisions every day. That’s 245,000 decisions each week, and almost 13 million decisions each year.

PAUSE take the time to pray.

PRAYER IS KEY TO PREPARATION. Thank God for direction you’ve already seen in your life. Look forward at what lies ahead of you:

  • Tasks
  • People with whom you will meet
  • Conversations you need to have
  • Challenges you will face.
  • All those decisions you need to make!

When we prepare, we get ready, we set ourselves up for success.

The second letter of our acronym P.A.U.S.E. is A, and A is for


When we stop it allows us to check our attitude. Are you waking up saying, “Good Morning, God!” or “Good God, it’s morning?”

Our attitude means a lot.

​Proverbs 15:13


A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.

The apostle Paul wrote:

Philippians 4:4  ESV

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

By stopping we get a chance to check our attitude. If you’re finding yourself muttering under your breath on a regular basis, you may need to check your attitude. What is it that is upsetting you? Is your heart in the right place?

Are you hopeful and positive? Or are you down and negative?

James 5:13 ESV

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

Your attitude will impact much of what you do, and those around you.

The next letter is U and stands for


As we take a pause, it allows us to gain perspective. Perspective allows us to step back and take a look at the bigger picture, to examine situations, tasks, conversations, individuals from different perspectives outside the heat of the moment.

Even Paul had to remind Timothy

2 Timothy 2:7 ESV

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Earlier I said that prayer is key to preparation, in Philippians 4, Paul wrote, Phil 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

and he concludes that thought with Phil 4:7

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And so we move to the S - in our acronym


For years people have told me they don’t have time to read Scripture. The truth is that even church going Christians don’t read Scripture on average more than once per week, and my guess is they are counting the Scriptures read in worship.

Folks, this book will absolutely change your life, not because of the simple words on a page, but because it contains the very words of God.

In Proverbs we read Prov 20:15

There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

2Timothy 3:16-17 give us these powerful words:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

God’s Word to us is profitable.

It teaches us - who God is. Who we are. What God calls us to do. How God empowers us to do these things.

God’s word is for reproof and correction - It casts light on those areas of our life that are not pleasing to God. God’s Word is essentially the instruction book of how we were created for and what we were created for.

Training in righteousness - God’s Word trains us to function at our greatest capacity, training us to live the lives we were created for.

Finally, in our acronym we come to the letter E, and we realize when we Pause we can


When we take time to pause, to rest from our labor, we regain perspective as we Prepare, check our Attitude, seek better Understanding, dig into the Scriptures, and that launches us in a very real way into what lies ahead.

​Philippians 3:12 NIV

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

When we take the time to PAUSE each week, it not only gives us time to reflect on the past week, but it gives us time to let go of last week and launch ourselves into the next week.

I’m a skier and have skied for most of my life. One of my favorite things about skiing is high speed carved turns. What I mean by carved is that you are letting your edges actually carve in the snow. If you hold on to the last turn you won’t be able to carve the next turn you will have to slip into it, scrubbing your speed.

So there is a point at the end of your turn where you literally launch yourself ahead of your skis, rolling your skis onto the outer edges of your previous turn which now become the inside of your turn. The feeling of weightlessness at that moment is my favorite thing about doing those turns. Its exhilarating, its exciting, and its fun.

Think about the times in your life when you felt most alive. If your honest I’m willing to bet that it’s a time when you were stepping out in faith. It was a time when you took some risk. It’s a time when you threw yourself over your edges and trusted.

But it all comes from times of PAUSE.

As we have an opportunity today, and even tomorrow. I hope that you will take the time to PAUSE so that you can ENERGIZE as we continue to move forward toward that upward call of Christ.

We are...

In His Grip,

Pastor John

Read more
New Sermon Series begins Sept. 11!
New Sermon Series begins Sept. 11!

John A. Murphy, Jr. • August 31, 2022

This Fall we will be going through the New Testament (a bit faster than we did the Old Testament) with the second part of our Casket Empty Series. If you were not here for the Old Testament part, we're using the acronym CASKET EMPTY to describe God's plan for redemption through history as it is laid out in the Bible.

CASKET represents the Old Testament, and we followed through Creation, Abraham, Sinai, Kings, Exile, and Temple. Now we turn to the New Testament and the word EMPTY.

EMPTY represents the New Testament, and using the acronym in much the same way we get: Expectation, Messiah, Paul, Teaching, and Yet to come.

I hope you'll be able to join us in person, from our parking lot (we broadcast weekly), or online from our website as a podcast.

Read more
Divided We Stand...Together
Divided We Stand...Together

John A. Murphy, Jr. • July 06, 2022

Recently, our country "celebrated" its 246th birthday. I put the word "celebrated" in quotation marks for several reasons as it seems that we live in a time where our nation is deeply reflective on the many sins of our collective past. Among those sins is the most obvious slavery, a topic that has divided our nation since its founding. Yet there is more: racism continues to challenge us as a country; as do issues of equality; women's rights; ongoing debates over first, second, fourth, and sixth amendment rights and the application of these rights for all; and not least of all debate over recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.On July 4th amid the parades, firework displays, picnics, and festivities, there were certain celebrities who took the opportunity on this day to denounce their citizenship, or proclaim how horrible our country is. Then, there was the tragedy of the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois that left at least 7 dead (at latest count) and dozens more injured.Since this weekend so much has been said about people dividing our country. They forget that we are and have always been a divided country. Our Presidents through the centuries have been elected by the slim average percentage of 9% or less of the popular vote, and since 2000 by an average of 2.5%. No President in our lifetime (or perhaps ever) has been unanimously elected. So anytime any person disparages one party's voters over the other they are in essence insulting at least 40% of the country. That divides us. The vitriol of politicians doesn't help matters; neither does the encouragement of absolutism and defiant resistance to any compromise.There was a time when government leaders were praised for their ability to get things done by working for solutions with members of the opposition, to persuade others, and hopefully improve life for all concerned. Compromise was not a bad thing, it was part of the process in trying to get things done. Now, it seems elected leaders of all stripes are praised for taking a stand, for digging in their heels, and for outright defiance of the opposition. So the wheels of republican democracy grind to a halt; nothing gets done and presidents resort to "executive orders", which only further divide us.The preamble of the U.S. Constitution begins with the solemn words: "We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union..." Clearly our founders understood we weren't there yet, and perhaps never would be. As a mentor/pastor of mine once described the Christian faith, "It's a process and a progress."There is in this country of ours so much to be praised. We live in a country where we have the liberty to speak our mind and disagree; to raise our flag and to burn it; to peacefully gather in support or protest; and to vote. The very reason that our country is great is because we can reflect on both its greatness and its flaws. We can raise our flag and cheer; and we can raise our fist skyward or kneel in protest. It is because our country is great we have the freedom to do these things.And what about our faith. How do we as Christians respond when we believe we align better with one side or the other. First, we must remember that no political party has the high ground as the more "Christian" party. There are good, faithful, believers and followers of Christ all along the political spectrum. I have often discovered in conversation with people I disagreed with that we came to similar conclusions from very different starting points.If there was ever a separation it would be between sinners and the most Holy High God. Yet, God said, "Come, let us reason together..." (Isaiah 1:18). It was God who sent his only son to walk among us. Even Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church says, "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation," (2 Cor 5:18).If the message we've been entrusted with is ministry and message of reconciliation, who are we to continue to beat the drums of separation? Jesus said, "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another," (John 13:35).We live in a country of deep divisions, radically different opinions, and the freedom to express all of it. One of the things that impresses me most about Mission Woods Church is that we have all stripes represented. We have those that would call themself liberal, and others staunch conservatives, and still others who put themselves somewhere in the middle. This is not only true politically, it is true theologically as well. Yet, together we strive to seek Christ first in all things and to bring glory to the One true God who is worthy of our praise.May we, together, let our light shine before others that they may see our good works and give praise to our Father in heaven, (Matthew 5:16). God bless you all.In His Grip,Pastor John
Read more
Masks Optional Beginning March 12
Masks Optional Beginning March 12

John A. Murphy, Jr. • March 10, 2022

After long months of wearing masks, following safety guidelines, we're excited to be making masks optional again, beginning March 12.

We have been very careful in our approach to COVID. Our building was closed for several months as we moved everything to online. Then we came back and worshipped in person (sort of) as we gathered in our parking lot each sitting in their own vehicle or "COVID safe pods" as Pastor John called them. Finally we were back in the building and masked.

We continue to take precautions. We continue to follow guidelines and use hand sanitizer, encourage distancing, cleaning surfaces, etc. After a discussion and consultation with medical professionals our session is opening our sanctuary again with masks being optional. We invite you to join us and are excited to once again see your whole face if you choose not to wear a mask. If you choose to wear a mask there will be no shame and we love seeing your smiling eyes!

Join us in person, in our parking lot, or online this Sunday!

Read more
Everyone Is Welcome  Christmas Eve 8pm
Everyone Is Welcome Christmas Eve 8pm

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • December 09, 2021

Christmas is one of the great high points of the year for many families. Our Mission Woods Church family loves to celebrate Christmas as the birth of our Savior. Whether you have never been to church before, are a regular attender, or perhaps have missed church for a while and just want to do something special for Christmas Eve, we welcome you to join us.

If you'd like to join us you can attend our Christmas Eve service two ways: Indoors in our sanctuary (we ask everyone to wear a mask or face covering), or simply pull into our parking lot and listen to the service on the radio in the COVID safe pod of your own car. Either way, we will work to make you feel welcome and included in our worship service.

Our Service will be at 8pm on Christmas Eve. Children of all ages are welcome. All will participate in one service together.

Read more
Join Us For Worship!
Join Us For Worship!

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • October 19, 2021

Join us for worship in person at Mission Woods Church. We are worshipping indoors and in our parking lot. Inside our sanctuary we ask that you wear a mask. Our congregation is singing (masks on) and spaced as you are comfortable. We have individual seats so it's easy to move them where you like. Our worship team leads without masks.

There are some who continue to worship in their "COVID safe pods" (their automobiles) in our parking lot. You are invited to join us in our parking lot and simply tune to the radio station we broadcast on. You will be able to sing along thanks to lyrics in our bulletins, and we can provide you a hymnal to keep in your car for when you come to worship.

Read more

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • January 26, 2021

Join Us for COVID Safe Worship!

We're very proud to be able to continue worshipping in person in a COVID-19 safe way. Let us share what you'll experience as you worship with us.

What to expect:

  • As you drive up to our church you will be greeted by a friendly face, and provided with a bulletin of what's happening during the service. If you haven't worshipped with us in our parking lot before we will also provide you with a hymnal in a plastic bag for you to keep in your car for worship. Please hold on to this hymnal if you are planning on returning to worship with us. If not, you may return it at the end of worship.
  • You may choose from any parking space since you will not be getting out of your car.
  • Tune your car radio to the radio station listed on the bulletin. Currently we're using 92.3 on your FM dial.
  • Turn off your engine, but not the radio. Be sure to turn off your headlights, and the heating fan as these will deplete your car battery.
  • Sit back and prepare for worship.
  • After the service we invite you to drive through the portico to greet our pastor and worship leadership team. You may deposit your offering in our offering plate at this time. Please remember to wear your mask when you roll down your window.


What if I need to use the restroom?

Our restrooms are available inside the building. Please remember to wear your mask while inside the building.

What if I'm just visiting? What should I do with the hymnal?

On your way out, return the hymnal to the bag provided and hand it to one of our worship leaders as you exit under our portico.

I want to make an offering. How do I do that?

We have several ways you can contribute.

  1. You can simply write a check and we will provide you with an envelope on your way out that you can put in the offering plate.
  2. You can give cash, and we will provide you with an envelope you can use to deposit it in the offering plate on your way out.
  3. You can mail a check to Mission Woods Church, P.O. Box 296, Milton, WA 98354.

10 Benefits of Parking Lot Worship

  1. You're in your own COVID-19 safe sanctuary pod.
  2. Amazing scenery - trees, sky, birds, sunshine, rain,...snow?
  3. You can control the volume of your own personal sound system!
  4. You can wear your pajamas and no one will know.
  5. You can attend as a family without the fear that your children talking might disturb anything. (This is usually a fear of parents and we're always happy to have children in our services).
  6. You can recline your own pew...I mean, seat!
  7. You can debate fellow passengers on one of the points in the sermon during the sermon, and no one will know.
  8. You can sing as loud as you want, on key or off, and make a joyful noise to God without disturbing others.
  9. If you snort while laughing at one of the pastor's jokes/stories - no one except your fellow passengers will know.
  10. If you fall asleep during the sermon, no one knows.

Read more
Christmas Eve 2020 - A bit of normalcy?
Christmas Eve 2020 - A bit of normalcy?

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • December 21, 2020

Join us Dec. 24th at 7pm for a complete Christmas Eve service in our church parking lot.

Are you feeling like everything this year has been "less than"? At Mission Woods Church we understand. That's why we've worked very hard to put together a worship service for Christmas Eve that is complete and COVID safe. Join us Dec. 24th at 7pm for a complete Christmas Eve service in our church parking lot.

This year has been one for the record books. No doubt we will talk about it for years to come. The separation, the closures, the virtual meeting/schooling, and the absence of normalcy. Many this year are feeling like they need to "settle" for something "less than" in everything. We don't get the customer service we'd like. Our interactions are all with masks on. Our Christmas gatherings and so many of our traditions are out the window.

At Mission Woods Church we want everyone to know they're invited to join us for a full Christmas Eve service. We will be sharing in the Lesson of the Carols with singing led by our worship team of all those meaningful Carols with their scriptural lessons. We'll have a special message for children of all ages (rumor has it we'll have a visitor!), and you'll be a part of something bigger than just a drive-by blessing, or another online gathering staring at the screen.

Please join us for our Christmas Eve Service, Dec. 24, 2020 at 7pm in our Church parking lot!

Read more
COVID Safe Worship
COVID Safe Worship

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • November 19, 2020

Our church continues to strive to provide full worship services with COVID safety in mind. You can join us Sunday mornings at 10am in our church parking lot and worship with us in the safety of your own vehicle!

Please bring a mask, as we would like to say "Hi" from a safe distance as you arrive and give you a blessing as you leave. You are also encouraged to dress warm and even bring a lap blanket. When you arrive you will receive a bulletin and be instructed to tune your car radio to an FM station so you can hear the full service. Music included!

We encourage you to fully participate, singing, praying, and listening to what God is saying to us during this challenging time. If you have questions please call, or reach out to us at info@missionwoodschurch.org

We hope to see you at a worship service soon!

Read more
COVID-19 Update
COVID-19 Update

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • November 02, 2020

How Long? How Long, O Lord?

There is much discussion about when and how to reopen our church building. Our session has taken this very seriously and we are doing our best to be faithful shepherds of our congregation entrusted to us. We recognize that many churches have reopened and many more have not. Most in our presbytery have not yet reopened.

From the beginning in Genesis we read, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” (Genesis 2:18). This was a statement about how we are created by God to be in community. The author of Hebrews implores us, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, let us not give up meeting together…” (Hebrews 10:24 & 25). As Christians we are called into community for love and support, and also for correction and sharpening. And yet, we are in the midst of a pandemic, and haven’t been able to meet in our sanctuary since March 8th!

When this whole pandemic hit we all thought we would be closed for a couple of weeks, perhaps a couple of months. When in June the governor released his 4 phase plan on reopening, the Session expected to move through the phases rather quickly and agreed that phase 3 would be the time we would reopen; but that didn’t happen. Our session continued to meet to discuss how we might continue to minister to our congregation. By August we were barely into Phase 2, and we began doing parking lot worship. Our county is still in phase 2.

As of the writing of this letter both King and Pierce Counties are experiencing a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases. In Pierce county the current case rate is 122.3 per 100,000. Our target to reopen is 75 per 100,000.

“The Governor still strongly encourages religious leaders and communities to conduct services remotely.” This is a great idea, yet there are those in our congregation who do not have internet, and virtual meetings still feel very distant. With ingenuity and the purchase of a radio antenna broadcast system, we have been able to conduct services in our church parking lot minimizing the infection risk to our congregation and allowing us to hold live worship and see each other!

We are so thankful to all those it takes to pull off our worship time together: Lisa (pianist), Cami (Worship lead), Katie, and Kari for their leadership in music and prayer. And none of this would happen without Scott and Lance working on our sound and the antenna setup so that the broadcast works each Sunday. And there are a host of others that have worked to make our parking lot worship as possible: Jennifer joyfully greets and hands out bulletins; Darrell plays host in the parking lot assuring that people are tuned to our radio station for the morning; Ruth makes sure that our bulletins have the extra items that may be needed since we don’t have the screen to look at and then assists handing them out with Jennifer; Natalie makes sure that the offering is collected, counted and deposited. And the whole team waves greetings under the portico afterwards.

So What's The Plan?

  • For the foreseeable future we will continue to do Parking Lot Worship.
  • We will continue to watch the infection rate in the Pierce County/King County Region.
  • When the infection case rate drops to 75 per 100,000 in Pierce County, our session will implement a plan to reopen worship services on Sunday mornings inside our building with social distancing protocols still in place. (This is the guideline adopted by several school districts in the area.)
  • Once we open, we plan on continuing the radio broadcast for those still not comfortable entering the church building. We will have a host in the parking lot.
  • Sermons will continue to be posted online and printed copies are available upon request.
  • Small groups may meet in the building if and only if they wear a mask at all times, follow social distancing and follow cleaning protocols  by the state health department. 
  • Small groups are able to meet virtually through ZOOM. Contact Pastor John and he is able to set up your meetings for you.
  • Our Session continues to seek to EQUIP our members. We have purchased Faithlife EQUIP for the entire church, giving all of our members access to LOGOS Bible Software with Bible studies, devotions, and more. You also get FaithlifeTV, and an interactive Faithlife page where you can learn more about what’s going on in our church.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How is the church doing financially?

Our church family is incredibly faithful. We have continued to be able to meet all of our financial obligations and even to be able to build up some reserves during this time. Thank you for your ongoing faithful support of the ministries of Mission Woods Church.

On Sunday morning we see people going in and out of the building, why can't we?

As stated above it takes a lot of people to set up, conduct, and take down our worship service each Sunday. These people are practicing social distancing and mask wearing inside the building. All cleaning procedures are done before and after each service.

The restrooms are always available to you during the service, we are asking that no more than 2 people be in a restroom at a given time.

How come our worship leaders take off their masks while singing/speaking?

Mainly to aid in singing/speaking clearly. Outside we are able to do this; inside we would have to keep the masks on at all times.

Can I still meet with the pastor?

Yes! Pastor John is happy to meet with people in person, by phone, or in a video conference which he can set up. You can call him directly using the number in the directory.

This whole experience has been a learning one for all of us. Thank you for your patience. Our session recognizes the need to keep you informed. We are pledging to update you regularly through our website and mailings like this one. We truly are blessed to be the family of God.

On behalf of the entire Session:

Clerk of Session - Kari

Pastor - John

 Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 Religious and Faith-based Organization COVID-19 Requirements – from Guidelines for Religious and Faith Organizations, Governor.wa.gov. 

Read more