Category Archives: Personal

The Fighting God (Exodus 14:14)

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” [Exodus 14:14]

This short, little verse captured my heart this morning; as God spoke words of comfort after a very long and difficult day.

But first the context of this verse…

The Israelites are being lead out of Egypt by God through Moses and Aaron. God commands the group to head towards the Red Sea and set up camp. Once there, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and he comes out with everything he has to capture those slaves again.

God did this to show God’s glory.

As they are beside the Red Sea the people see Pharaoh and his army and are scared silly (and a little angry that Moses lead them out here to die). Moses then speaks the word of the Lord to them:

Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Basically, no need to worry, God has this. You don’t even need to raise one finger. Trust God. God will fight this battle.

With that God parted the Red Sea, the people walked across on dry ground and the rest is history. Praise be to God!

And I needed that verse this morning. Without going into all the details, yesterday was a long and nerve fraying day. I had been up since 2:30 AM with a 4 month old who refused to be put down. My wife was out of town for work. I had two kids not feeling well; both demanding attention and it seemed like at the same time all the time. My toddler was being naughty because she wasn’t getting the attention she demanded. And my 4 month old was difficult to sooth. When I would try to put the younger one down for a nap, the older one would come in crying; waking up the younger.

My emotions and nerves were frayed and I found myself on the verge of tears a number of times. Lots of praying ensued and when Connie finally got home I just crashed.

And then I read this verse this morning:  The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

[Cue the tears]

Amen!
Praise be to God!
Alleluia!
Thank you!

Have you ever felt defeated or nearly pushed over the edge?
Have you ever felt like the world was ganging up on you?
Have you ever felt like Satan’s onslaughts were going to destroy you?

Have you been there? That was me yesterday, but God fought for me even though I was trying to fight. And this morning God reminded me to give it up to him next time. Satan may try to destroy me in so many ways, and on my own I have no chance but God will fight for me. And God will fight for you.

What an awesome promise.
What a faithful God.

Through Jesus Christ God has defeated Satan but Satan is still trying do as much damage as possible until that day when God makes him a footstool for is Son. So when you see the forces of Satan baring down on you; do not be afraid. The salvation of the Lord has been won for you through faith in Jesus so therefore the Lord will fight for you and the Lord WILL win.

Praise be to God and Alleluia!!!

Thank you, powerful God, that you fight for me. When the forces of evil are marching against me, you are there to push them back. May I have the sight of Elisha to see the chariots of fire around me and may I rest in your promises, oh God. May you be praised, always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Not quite awake

Sometimes this pastor’s devotion time involves holding my sleeping 3 1/2 month old son while drinking coffee, praying and reading scripture. And then taking time to pound out a few words on my tablet, in case anyone cares what the pastor is doing this morning :-)

But before you think that I have run out of thoughtful words to share please understand that I am working on 4 hours of sleep and very little coffee up to this point. Trust me, this pastor will be up to full operating capacity in no time and then a more thoughtful post will follow.

And I am guessing that once this first pot of coffee hits my system I may wonder why I wrote this (and posted it).

Oh well

God bless you and I’ll be back with something more thoughtful later :-)

[I need so much more coffee]

The (not quite awake) Pastor -|—

A selfish prayer

Father God…

from the heart of this pastor…

I selfishly ask for healing for my little girl even though I know there are bigger issues in this world. She may only have a low temp but it still pains me that she’s not feeling 100%.

I selfishly ask that my little girl sleeps well this afternoon so I may have time to write a sermon.

I selfishly ask that this post may not come off as selfish (even though it probably does).

I selfishly ask that you may grant my requests so my life may flow more smoothly.

And…

I selfishly ask that you, O God, may forgive my selfishness.

I feel sheepish for even praying this (and writing this) but I can’t hide what’s on my heart; for you know all things. So I put this out there and ask for forgiveness.

(and of course, as I bask in the joy of your forgiveness through faith in Jesus, I continue to selfishly ask for my little girl)

Will I ever learn?

Oh God, may you be praised despite my selfishness. May you be praised despite my shortcomings. May you be praised despite my sin.

(and please, O God, heal my little girl)

And may you be praised despite the fact that I’m messed up.

Amen.

There I go again, O well…

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

“Work”

Sometimes a pastor’s “work” takes them out of the office and to a place that looks like a place of rest. For this pastor, my “work” has taken me to my favorite coffee shop…

Drinking coffee
Reading some Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards
And yes, staring out the front window [and now typing this]

My original “work” was to get away and peacefully read but a stirring changed the course of this pastor’s “work”.

The spontaneous writing of this reflection was due to a stirring in my heart to pray. I wasn’t stirred to pray for world peace or to find a cure for cancer. No, nothing like that. I was stirred to pray for two unknown people across the way standing in an employment agency. I have no clue who they are and probably never will. I have no clue what their situation is or what brought them to that place. All I know is that a prayer was prayed for them.

And this pastor probably will never know the fruit of this “work” but that’s OK. Sometimes the Spirit stirs and we know not why. And because I can’t quantify this “work” some may think I wasted my time or the church’s time.

But this was far from a waste of time. Not for those two people.

The Spirit stirring means important “work” needs to be done. And the joy of this “work” is that it’s not my “work”.

So I wrap this up and prepare to do some “traditional work” now and I look forward to more stirrings. But please don’t think I was lazy and please don’t praise my efforts.

This wasn’t my idea. I was stirred.

All praise be to God.

The Pastor -|—

Theologizing

For the past few weeks I have had the growing fear and sadness that my little girl (21 months old) was growing out of wanting to be rocked to sleep.

Our typical bedtime routine is that after she brushes her teeth and gets her jammies on we go into her room to read books (usually she wants daddy to do this, which of course I don’t mind). We read for a while and then pray together (it is uber cute when she folds her hands in mine). I then turn on her night light, start the CD player of lullabies and turn off her light. We then sit in the rocking chair and rock. If she isn’t sleeping by the end of the third song I lay her down in the crib. At nap time, the routine is similar except we just turn on the CD player and shut the lights off and then rock.

Well, this rocking thing hasn’t happened for a while…

…until nap time today.

For some reason my little girl wanted to rock (and who am I to question that). So my little girl curled up in my arms; all comfy in her blanket, and as very quickly off to sleep.

And we rocked and rocked and rocked…

Actually, she was out before the middle of the first song, but I didn’t lay her down then. I just continued to gaze at her and rock and rock and rock…

I didn’t want it to end.

I waited until the full three songs; and probably would had stayed longer if I didn’t need to get back for Wednesday classes at church.

It was such a beautiful moment and I was absolutely thrilled my little girl wanted daddy. But of course this pastor brain of mine started theologizing (I know that’s not a word but I think you get my drift). And it’s hard for a pastor to turn that off. We are always looking for sermon illustrations and teaching points and often times children provide the fodder.

In any case…

There are so many things about that moment today that remind me of God. But, I don’t think I am not going to share them with you.

Nope, I’m not.

I think I am just going to leave the moment as it is and let you imagine ~ and theologize. If you know God through Jesus Christ then you see it. You understand. You know what I am talking about. So I don’t have to say anything. To say anything more risks ruining the moment so I’ll let the Spirit continue where I leave off…

The Pastor -|—

Growing up

One of the joys of serving at a church for as long as I have (10 1/2 years) is that you get to see kids grow up. I have a confirmation student, that as a preschooler, used to hide behind her mom’s leg because she was scared of me. Now she is a spiritually mature confirmation student that babysits my children. I have a crop of 5th graders that will be starting confirmation in the fall as 6th graders. This group contains some of the kids I baptized when I first arrived, including my first baptism.

But last night things hit me a little harder when I attended our local high school’s Winter Fest coronation. A young lady voted to serve as the 10th grade representative in the royal court is a former confirmation and release time student of mine. She looked so grown up last night in her formal dress and her hair all done up. And I found myself wondering how this was possible since it seems like just last year she was one of my 3rd grade release time students.

Wow, where has the time gone?

And then I started to think again about those 5th graders starting confirmation in the fall…

Didn’t I just baptize them?

Don’t get me wrong, I can hardly wait until that 5th class starts this next phase in their faith journey. And I am thrilled to see this 10th grade student of mine grow up, but I can’t help but have conflicting feelings about the passage of time. The good ole days always yields to new, uncharted days; neither good or bad ~ yet.

Part of me wants to turn back time (if I actually could) and prevent these kids from growing up and cling to the good ole days. But to do that would mean losing who these kids have become and who I have become today because of them. Watching these kids grow up has had a big impact on my life. I have learned a lot about my own faith through their questions and searching; questions that only a child-like faith can ask. I have seen these kids grow from standing up in the pew during the offering (one of my 5th graders did this when she was 3 or 4) and shouting, Pastor Eric, I got your money! to wanting to pray for an individual during release time. These kids have grown up and in so many ways. So maybe this is not a bad thing. Maybe I just need to reign in these conflicting emotions and “let them”grow up.

The life of a pastor is filled with so many joys and sorrows; ups and downs; major life moments; and the list goes on. It’s all part of the calling. It’s all part of serving in a congregation for “long time”. It’s all part of the passage of time. The good ole days can’t stay the good ole days forever. They need to yield to a new set of days so they too have a chance to become the good ole days for someone else, maybe even me.

So I praise God that He has allowed me to experience these conflicting emotions. May God grant me what I need to savor the good ole days and welcome the new ones that are coming. May God bless the days that are coming that they may become new good ole days. And I thank God that He has given me these days to enjoy with these kids and I look forward to many more.

And by the grace of God may I continue to grow up as well.

Glory to God

On my desk I have a picture frame that houses our family’s 2014 Christmas card. The card proudly shows off six pictures. Five of the pictures are of my two beautiful children and the sixth picture is a shot of our family of four. I find myself staring at this picture often; in awe that that is my family.

But as I stare at that beautiful arrangement of pictures; my eyes drift to the bottom left side of the card. There, in that corner are the words:

Glory to God

The words are meant to be a Christmas greeting and proclamation to our family and friends but they also remind me of God’s grace and faithfulness in our lives.

You see, about two years ago, my wife and I were wondering if we would ever be parents (especially after our painful failed adoption in March 2013), but now we are the parents of two beautiful children (both under the age of two, crazy, I know). Life has definitely changed for us, and in more ways than one:

~ Our house is now chaotic as our living room has turned into one big toy room.
~ Our Schedules are more complex.
~ Sleep is a premium.
~ Children’s songs now ring in my head.
~ Packing and traveling is stressful.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way :-)

But also, our faith in God through Jesus has been strengthened (and I definitely wouldn’t have THAT any other way).

Glory to God

You see, I was a Christian before the failed adoption, but afterwards, something “more”. And that’s the best way I can describe it. My wife and I became so much closer to each other and especially to God. We began to look at God differently (and in a good way). We began to lean more on God, especially during the healing process following the failed adoption. God was great before, we just noticed it better after we thought our lives were falling apart. God never deserted us; He was just doing something amazing.

Glory to God

Now I wonder how people do it. How do they navigate life without God? How do they deal with loss without God? How to they deal with tragedy without God? How do they face death without God? All of these questions perplex me and drive me to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. I don’t want anyone to deal with the crap of this world on their own.

I want people to lean on God through faith in Jesus.
I want people to know the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
I want people to see their sinfulness and need for a Savior.
I want people to see their need to confess their sins.
I want people to hear God’s forgiveness through Jesus.
I want people to know the hope of the resurrection.
I want people to know Jesus.
I want people to give…

Glory to God

So in case you wanted to know what drives this pastor to serve and minister and write all these blog posts, well, there you go. It’s about Jesus. It’s about the Gospel. It’s about Life. It’s about giving…

Glory to God

…always and forever; for He is worthy.

The Pastor -|—