Category Archives: Personal

A Spiritual Kick in the Pants

Pursuing Christ is not an occasional hobby to receive some spiritual high but rather a way of life because he loves you.

The above quote is something I wrote and posted on my Twitter feed (Feisty Pastor, @EricSpeakingUp). I wrote it because of personal experience; using spiritual practices to feel good and/or (believe it or not) to ensure that things will go my way. I would engage in spiritual practices; diving into scripture, writing, reading theology books, praying and meditation, to find this closeness with God and thus feel this sense of peace. And I would continue this for awhile until something would happen or I would slowly fall out of “practice”. And after going through a low time or feeling nervous about something coming up, I would start all over again.

Basically, using God as a drug to deal with life.

The weird thing is, deep down inside, I knew something wasn’t right but yet I kept at it because God was (and is) always faithful. God gave me this sense of peace when I would pursue Christ. And of course God knew what I was doing but yet God continued to love me and bless me with this peace. Part of me wishes that God would not have done that because I definitely did not deserve it.

I am not sure what happened but some spiritual kick in the pants woke me up to the reality of what I was doing. Maybe it was God’s love that kicked me. Maybe this peace that surpasses all understanding overwhelmed me to the point of conviction. I am not sure, but whatever it was I saw the error of my ways. But more importantly, I saw what I was missing.

An intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus.

The fact of the matter is, pursuing Christ is NOT a hobby. A hobby is something we do to take a break from life. It’s also something that does not consume one’s life (at least it shouldn’t). A hobby is only a part-time commitment. One of my hobbies is reading, but I only do that in my free time. Jesus being a hobby means that Jesus is not really part of your life. It means that you control the terms of the relationship. It means you are in charge. And this flies in the face of what it means for Jesus to be your Lord. A lord is in charge, not the subject.

But also, it flies in the face of what it means for Jesus to be your Savior. Jesus has saved me from my sins through dying on the cross. Through faith, Jesus has saved me from eternal condemnation. Through faith, Jesus gives a comfort that gives me strength no matter what this world throws at me. And therefore, why wouldn’t anyone want to get to know this Savior better and be close to him ALL the time?

Knowing this and receiving this should move “pursuing Jesus” from hobby status to a way of life, and not to get a spiritual high to get through your day, but rather to get to know this Lord and Savior better and better. Pursuing Jesus, then, is something that is every bit natural as breathing is natural.

If pursing Jesus is only a part time activity or hobby in your life, then you don’t know Jesus; you don’t understand what he did FOR YOU. Pursue Jesus ALL the time because he loves you and has died and risen FOR YOU. Pursue Jesus not for some spiritual high but because you want a relationship with him. Pursue Jesus FULL TIME.

Pursue Jesus and live with eternal joy as you look forward to living with Him on high.

The Pastor -|—

Time away

The Pastor is spending time at Shetek Lutheran Ministries this week so posts may be few. I will be back in action this weekend.

God bless and keep the faith. Someone needs the hope that is in you through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Pastor -|—

Eleven Years

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
[Colossians 3:16-17]

Eleven years ago today I made some promises. Nope, I’m not talking about my marriage promises; that is eleven years ago tomorrow. I am talking about eleven years ago TODAY when I was ordained into the ministry of Word and sacrament. It was a wild weekend to say the least, but one filled with promises that are important, and even more so today, as I have grown in my call as a pastor and a husband.

Eleven years ago I promised to assume the office of pastor as God’s call in my life. I promised to hold scripture as the sole authority of faith and life; holding it high and never to water it down. I promised to preach and teach the Word of God in all faithfulness and truth. I promise to care for those under my charge. I promised to be diligent in my study of scripture and the use of the means of grace. I promised to pray for my congregation and the world. I promised to be an example of faithful and holy living. I promised to serve God in this vocation.

I will, and ask God to help and guide me.

Eleven years ago I made these promises.
Eleven years ago I began this journey.
Eleven year ago God began to shape and mold this pastor,
And now eleven years later, God continues to shape and mold this pastor, as I continue to serve in the congregation who first called me.

Wow, eleven years. Where has the time gone?

I have indeed grown in so many ways and I look forward to seeing how God will continue to shape and mold me for the world that is today and into tomorrow. In the mean time I will continue to dwell richly in the Word and proclaim Christ in everything I do. I know I will fail and fall short (as I have may times before) but may God help and guide me; forgiving and restoring me, for to God belongs all glory and honor and praise and worship

Eleven years and counting.
Praise be to God!

Holy God, I give you thanks for these past eleven years. I thank You for shaping and molding me; for using me; for sending me. Continue to grant me Your Spirit that I may be faithful with all you have made me to be and with all You have blessed me with. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Celebrating Today :-)

Two years ago my wife and I were still hurting and healing from a devastating failed adoption that took place on March 6, 2013. We were wondering if we were ever going to be parents but at the same time we were still trusting that everything was in God’s hands. It was tough; trusting God while still hurting with a heavy heart. But little did we know then that our daughter was being born on this day in 2013 and that in a few days we would be leaving for Houston, Texas to meet our beautiful little girl.

And now today, I have been enjoying a beautiful day playing outside with my little girl.

God is so good!!!

So much has changed in my life in the past two years. I am definitely a different person; a different pastor.  I have grown in my relationship with God and have grown more into my calling to be a shepherd in the two congregations I get the privilege of serving and serving with.

I have also grown as a father as I continue to commit everything to God. I want to raise a godly child that fears and loves God with all her heart. I want to raise a child that lives for the Lord as her mommy and daddy does. I want to raise a child that will not turn away from the Lord when she is older. And all of this is a daunting task; hence, committing everything to God.

And so today I celebrate my little girl but more importantly I worship God for what he is doing in our lives. I also give God thanks and praise that he kept Connie and me strong so we could see His glorious plan unfold; and unfold it did:

TWO beautiful children.

God is so very good!!!

Father God, I praise Your holy name for this wonderful little girl You have called us to raise. You have entrusted us with this precious child to teach her about Your glorious love. Grant me wisdom along the way; for this vocation of parenting is way too difficult to do without You. May I bring You glory as a father to my/Your little girl. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

The Pastor (happy, proud daddy) -|—

A Heart of Mixed Emotions

This pastor’s heart is
sad and
happy and
thankful and
hopeful

Today was the last day of release time; a program where 3rd, 4th and 5th graders are released from school early to attend Bible classes at the church of their choice on Wednesdays. The program runs from mid-September through the Wednesday of Holy Week.

This year I had 22 students; five of which were 5th graders who we sadly said good bye to today. After I held a little “graduation” ceremony where I gave them a “diploma”/certificate we played for a bit outside and then came back inside to wrap things up. At the end I asked the 5th graders to lead the closing prayer. I started and then turned things over to them. What I heard made my heart happy on this sad day. They thanked God for a great year and a fun 3 years. One prayed for the 3rd and 4th graders coming behind them, one even prayed for the homeless. It was such a touching prayer from a group of formerly quiet 3rd graders from a couple years ago.

And so on this sad day my heart was thankful that God gave me the privilege of teaching and growing with this class of kids. My heart is happy that I get to have them in class in the fall as confirmation students; guiding them as they go deeper in their faith. And my heart is hopeful as I reflect on how much they have grown emotionally and in their faith.

Praise be to God!!!

But there is one other little fact that sticks out to me about this class of 5th graders. This class contains the first group of kids that I baptized when I first arrived here nearly 11 years ago; and now they are on the cusp of confirmation. What a joy it has been to watch these kids grow up and I praise God that He has chosen me to stay here this long.

Mixed emotions but all good. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Holy God, you are an awesome God who is up to holy and exciting things. Please continue to use me to guide young people in their faith and continue to guide me through the faith of young people. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The (sad, happy, thankful and hopeful) Pastor -|—

My Little Pulpit Visitor

Nothing deep and theological here tonight, just a cute worship story involving this pastor/daddy and his little girl.

This morning I was in the pulpit; in the zone and preaching on Mark 9:14-29. It was a serious text (as they all are) on living in the dark valley of life; being confronted by Satan. I was cruising along, when about half way through the sermon I noticed a disturbance in the force…

… my little girl (23 months old) working her way towards the pulpit.

I knew a problem was developing and my wife was otherwise occupied with our 4 1/2 month old son. So I continued and pretended not to notice; hoping there wouldn’t be a problem, but the force is strong in my little girl.

Mayah proceeded to walk in front of the pulpit before she realized she couldn’t reach daddy going that way. She promptly turned around and quickly solved her problem as she found the steps that lead to daddy. Mayah then crawled up the steps and proceeded to position herself in front of me; holding her arms up and waiting for me to pick her up. It took everything in me not to reach down and pick her up. It was even hard not to smile at all this cuteness.

I continue to preach and tried to stay in the zone as Mayah asserted herself ever so quietly (what a polite little girl). She eventually took a break and sat on the steps before trying again to convince me to chuck my sermon and give her the attention she desperately wanted.

Finally she relented and worked her way back down the couple steps and back to mommy. I continued preaching all the while keeping one eye on my little girl; and feeling a little guilty that I didn’t pick her up (and hoping no one noticed my mental distraction).

But I am not surprised by this. I knew this day would come eventually and I know there will be more. I guess this is just part of the joy of being a pastor and a daddy, and you know something, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The Pastor -|—

Evening Prayer ~ My Son

My five month old son…

…is resting peacefully in my arms.

…will gaze into my eyes and smile.

…will sit in his bouncy seat but definitely prefers mommy or daddy’s arms.

…depends on us for food and care.

…can do nothing to cause me to love him less.

…did nothing to earn my love.

…sleeps much better when mommy or daddy is near.

Oh God, if only I would look at you in the same way. If only I would trust you and depend on you like my son trusts and depends on me. If only I could learn a child-like faith like my little boy’s.

Oh God, draw me close that I may see you as a child sees their mommy and daddy.
Draw me close that I may learn to trust you with my life.
Draw me close that I may see the joy of resting in Your arms and know true love.
Draw me close that I may know and remember true peace.

And so may I rest tonight as a child sleeping on their daddy’s chest and may I awake in the morning with a new lease on life; praising and glorifying You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—