As I journey through the Old Testament in my daily Bible reading I just can’t shake the thought that those Israelites were idiots. I mean think about it. Over and over again they had to be reminded of what God did for them:
~ His mighty acts over the Egyptians
~ Parting the Red Sea
~ Water from a rock
~ Manna from heaven every morning
~ Quail every evening
~ A pillar of cloud and fire guiding them
~ Sandals that did not wear out
Mighty acts of power, love and faithfulness after mighty acts of power, love and faithfulness. All of this and they whine and complain when things get tough.
What does it take to convince them that God is awesome and powerful and faithful? What does it take for them to remember that God is not going to desert them?
All I can do is shake my head and roll my eyes.
Wait a second…
…don’t we do the same thing? When times get tough, don’t we question God and wonder where He is? Don’t we forget about God’s love and faithfulness? I mean, we too run after other gods. We too chase after idols. We too whine and complain.
We too are idiots.
But praise be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is faithful.
People ~ Remember, remember and remember.
Our God is awesome
Our God is love
Our God is power
Our God is our God
Praise be to God and Amen!
The pastor -|—
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…
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 :)
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 :)
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 :)
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 -|—
Last Sunday (March 3) I mentioned that I hope to have some good news to share with you soon. Well…
No good news (at least not yet).
We did travel to Florida on Sunday and Monday.
We did meet a baby girl that was born on Monday.
We did spend quality time with the birth mother and her family.
We did not come home with a baby girl :(
The birth mother, at the last second, decided she couldn’t sign off and decided to parent the baby. Needless to say my wife and I were devastated. I told people before we left that nothing was final yet; that the birth mother still could change her mind. I knew this, but a large part of me still fully expected to come home with a baby girl. I think a lot of people did.
The drive home from Florida was extremely long.
Lots of tears were shed.
Lots of questions were asked.
Lots of quiet moments were experienced.
But through it all, the one thing that gave and continues to give my wife and I hope and strength is the love and grace of our awesome God. We have seen this through the love of our family and friends. We have heard this through scripture and prayer. We have felt this in the warm embrace of a hug. God is good…all the time…even though we do experience heartache from time to time.
I don’t blame God for any of this. I am not angry with God for the heartache my wife and I are experiencing. Rather…I am joyful that we are not going through this alone. We know that God will bring healing…AND…that God will use this to bring Him glory. And THAT is exciting.
My hope and prayer is that I can grow stronger through this experience so I can better help people who are grieving in any way. I have experienced heartache and grieving before but nothing like this.
I still believe there is a child out there…somewhere…waiting for us.
I still believe that I will be a father someday. So in the mean time we will move forward and continue to pursue our dream to be parents someday. We pray for the birth mother as she parents this little baby girl. We pray for healing and wisdom. We pray for strength. Satan will not use this to drive a wedge between me and God.
And…hopefully, soon, I will have good news to share with you. Thank you for your love, prayers and support.
Praise be to God!
The pastor -|—
Thirteen years ago today; at 8:30 in the morning; a Tuesday, God used my dad to utter these words:
“Eric, it is time for you to go to seminary.”
I was totally blown away by this and didn’t know how to respond. My dad went on to say some other words but I can’t remember those…only that call from God. The rest of the day was a blur as I spent the morning with my two pastors trying to discern what was going on. They were quick to affirm this call and the rest is history.
Now…13 years later…I am sitting in a church parsonage reflecting on the past 13 years. What a winding road God has lead me down.
There were times in seminary when I doubted I could do this. I questioned God and wondered if this really was the road I was supposed to be on. I nearly got off the road a couple times but God used various people in my life to keep me going. And I thank God for them because as I reflect back on these 13 years it is clear to me that God was indeed leading me along a winding road to bring me here; to Jackson, MN. I still wonder sometimes why I am here but then God does something and I smile.
Sometimes it is hard to see or imagine that God has a plan.
Sometimes it is tempting to think we know better what we are supposed to do. Sometimes it is hard to hold the course when the road does wind and bend.
But God has been and always will be faithful. And it is so much fun to look back and see those moments. In those times when I thought God was crazy, confused, oblivious, God was working out something wonderful. God sees the whole and complete picture…and…God is working out something wonderful in your life as well. Listen to God; listen carefully. Trust Him…for God will not lead you down the wrong road. Let God be your guide because in the end you will indeed experience something wonderful as you see God being glorified in your life.
So I sit here today; in this church parsonage; reflecting on that call 13 years ago. It’s been an interesting ride and I look forward to seeing what else God will do through me.
God is awesome!
God is faithful!
Praise be to God!
The pastor -|—
As I reflect on my adoption journey I find myself feeling very thankful for the community of people around us.
Monday night we had an adoption fundraiser at the Pizza Ranch here in Jackson. The event was called “Tip Night”. How it works is that my wife and I received a percentage of the proceeds from dine in meals, deliveries and carry out orders starting at 4 pm…and the community turned out. My wife and I (along with a crew of wonderful friends), cleared off and cleaned tables, visited with people and provided adoption information. Our case worker was also in attendance helping us. A huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped us. Also…a huge thank you to the Pizza Ranch for doing this for us :)
Pizza Ranch manager, Jeff, handing me a check from the sales proceeds.
We received just over $900 from proceeds and “tips” that people gave. That doesn’t included the money people gave us in the weeks proceeding this event. In a word…my wife and I were –> Overwhelmed.
Praise be to God!
Ever since we started this adoption process we have received so many well wishes, prayers, financial support and other displays of love. We have said over and over how blessed we feel to live in such a caring community with such wonderful friends. The saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child“. Well…we are blessed to be living in this “village”.
And now…we anxiously await the birth of our daughter.
That’s right…a girl…due March 1. The call could come at any time. But we also know a lot can happen. Nothing is final right now. The one thing we do know is that God is faithful and that God is in control. If this adoption falls through we will be sad, disappointed, etc…but…we know God will continue to guide us in this process. In the mean time we pray for this birth mother and her baby. We pray for her family. But most of all we pray that God’s will be done and that we may have the eyes of faith to see that because in the end, glorying God is what matters.
Loving God, you have blessed my wife and I with a wonderful family; caring and supportive friends, and a caring and supportive “village”. Thank you for showing love through all these avenues. In Jesus name, Amen!
The pastor -|—
When instances of God’s faithfulness humbles you to the point of tears welling up in your eyes you just have to share the story…and that’s what I am doing here.
A couple weeks ago friends suggested a fundraiser idea to us: Tip Night at the Pizza Ranch. What happens is that the indivdual(s)/organization schedules a night with the Pizza Ranch (usually a Monday or Wednesday) and they receive 15% of the sales from 4 to 8pm plus any tips. The people bus tables, clean up and talk to the customers. Basically anything that doesn’t involve working in the kitchen or running the till. So Connie and I scheduled a Tip Night for Monday, Feb 18.
Now the advertising begins.
I created a Facebook event and invited people; a friend offered to create a poster for us and I emailed the local churches about a bulletin announcement. Yesterday (Thursday) I decided to email the editor of our local newspaper (Jackson County Pilot). I told him about the fundraiser and wondered if they would be interested in helping us promote it and/or do a story about adoption. I mentioned that I have encountered a number of people touched by adoption since we announced to the community we were adopting; stories we probably would not have heard otherwise.
Today I got an email back from the editor and I was…
Embraced with God’s love
The editor told me that my email was uncanny as they were discussing on Thursday about doing a story about adoption.
[Cue the goose bumps]
I told my wife this and tears started to well up in her eyes. She said, “Guess who was involved with that?“
…and Praise be to God!
Through out this process I have felt God’s gentle touch on my shoulder as we deal with preparations and decisions. God continues to assure us that we are on the right path. But more importantly, God continues to show us His faithfulness that leads us to glorify God. Because you know, in the end, that is what matters; glorifying God.
My prayer now is that any story that is published, whether in the Pilot or not; or through our testimony, that people see God’s glory and run to God in worship. I continue to pray for the child God has chosen for us. I continue to pray for that birth mother and family. And I pray that God may strengthen, encourage and guide us as we raise this child. In all we do, may God be praised and glorified.
Thank you, God, for your gentle touch this morning and for your continued messages of love through supernatural acts in our lives. This was no coincidence but your hand was and is involved. Thank you for the wonderful reminder. May you always be praised. Amen!
The pastor -|—
Just in case I haven’t communicated this yet:
The adoption process can be overwhelming.
Surprise, surprise, I know. But it is only overwhelming if you attempt to do this alone.
As our adoption process moves along I am finding myself exploring a number of resources: websites and blogs. I am also talking with others who have adopted. Those conversations have proved to be extremely valuable and I will continue to seek people out. Just yesterday I was speaking with a good friend/colleague/mentor about our adoption process. He had gone through the adoption process a while back. I was sharing some feelings I was (and was not) experiencing and listened to this wise man share what he went through. I found a sense of peace come over me as I realized that I wasn’t abnormal; that my feelings were not necessarily wrong. It was like God had ordained this conversation for that particular moment. After I hung up the phone I prayed and thanked God for His faithfulness.
Wow…God is amazing.
The websites and blogs I have come across have also proved to be valuable. I recently came across a blog from a family in our area who is adopting ~ for the third time. I am thinking I will be in touch with them eventually. Recently, my wife and I were given a website that contained a number of adoption fundraising ideas. Some of them were so simple and brilliant. Ideas, support, prayers, etc are out there…you just need to look and access them.
So as I come across some of these sites I am going to be adding them to my new blog roll on the right hand side of the screen called “Adoption”. My hope is that people who stumble across my blog will find comfort, as I have, in knowing that they are not alone. And…if you are reading this and are in the adoption process, please feel free to share your resources here.
God is so amazing. I praise Him for those “little” moments when He reminds me of His presence. I am thankful for the people He has brought in our lives. And I hope that some day soon I can be a resource to someone going through this process; that God can use me to give someone what He has given me.
Praise be to God!
The pastor -|—
When my wife and I started the adoption process back on June 28, 2012, I was scared silly as we were entering a world of unknowns. My wife was ready to start this process a long time before I was. I remember many times when she would bring it up but I wouldn’t give it much time in conversation. I would find ways to divert the topic and hope it would end.
I knew it was expensive and that scared me.
I knew we didn’t have the money.
I knew it would be hard.
I knew it would forever change our lives.
I also knew that I wanted to be a father. I was caught between my fear and my dream. I didn’t know what to do or how to proceed. I was praying but I don’t think I was listening very well.
I don’t remember specifically what the turning point was but we finally dove in. We decided on an agency that my wife found (God’s Children Adoption Agency) and off we went. We met with one of the case workers and got the information we needed. My wife immediately started the paper work and I started feeling more overwhelmed.
What have I gotten myself into? [I was still worried about money.]
The home study process started and things seemed to fall into place. It wasn’t too long into the process that we received our first financial contribution from a friend. Then our parents pledged support. At the outset of this we had friends praying for us. There were times when we would talk with these friends and they would end up gathering around my wife and I to pray.
It was overwhelming…but this time in a good way.
Now we are 6 months in and I am feeling like this has been God’s plan all along. I still know that this will be a lot of money but I don’t worry about that anymore. God has showed me over and over again that He has us covered. Various financial gifts have come in; showing me that God is not going to leave us hanging. God is faithful and always has been faithful. There are still a lot of question marks but feeling that my hand is firmly in the grip of God’s hand is comforting. We are not walking alone. And I am so thankful for our wonderful family and our wonderful friends. There is no way we could have gotten this far without them. They are indeed a gift from God.
So we continue waiting; knowing that God has a little one out there waiting for us. And when that child enters our home they are going to be so loved; not just by my wife and me but by our wonderful and supportive family and friends (including the congregations I serve).
Despite my fear God was faithful. What an awesome God we have.
Thank you, God, for walking with us in this process. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for calming my fears. Thank you for your love. In Jesus name, Amen.
The pastor -|—
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. [Genesis 1:1-2]
The New Year’s parties are done and many of you are back to work or school. And with the work week resuming; 2012 seems to be a distant memory with 2013 in full swing. Now we are left to wonder what this new year will bring. A couple days ago we contemplated the ending of one year and dreamed dreams of what 2013 might bring. Now it is here.
For some 2013 can’t be any worse than 2012.
For some 2013 can’t possibly be any better than 2012…can it?
For some 2013 brings with it new challenges.
For some 2013 brings with it tremendous changes.
But one thing we can all agree on: Right now…2013 is formless and void. There’s no shape.
There’s no light.
We are simply sitting in an empty page; one yet to be written. A story is out there…somewhere. A plot yet unknown.
But in the midst of this unknown our Creator is hoovering. God is waiting to reveal the next pages in this new chapter. God is waiting to reveal the beauty that is your life. The Creator is over the surface of (and within) our lives. The Creator is hard at work and this Creator is faithful.
I imagine that the early days of this formless creation was a scary looking place, but in the hands of the Creator…not so much. It may seem scary looking into 2013 but God is a faithful and loving God. He has your hand; He has your future…secure. Through Jesus Christ that which is unknown becomes known and certain. 2013 maybe unknown, formless and void but our ultimate destiny is indeed known, formed and filled…through faith in Jesus.
God is hovering over and within this formless new year but that which is formless will become a beauty to behold. Such is your life in Jesus Christ. Let’s enter this new year with confidence that the Creator of the universe is our loving and grace-filled God; one who sent Jesus to give us a future. Let’s walk by faith and not by sight. Our Creator is hard at work.
Happy New Year!
The pastor -|—
The appeal about roller coasters for me is the:
and the upside down views.
The feeling of exhilaration is so much fun. I especially like those roller coasters where you can’t see what is coming next – like Space Mountain at Epcot Center. That is a fun roller coaster. It took a lot of convincing from my dad to get me to try it when I was young, but once I did I didn’t want to stop.
Roller coasters are fun.
But when you are on that proverbial life roller coaster then those things that once held appeal for the real thing become heart-wrenching and hard.
I am not a fan of those “roller coasters”.
But praise be to God that I am not riding this one alone.