Four Months Ago

Four months ago today, my family and I arrived in Puyallup, WA after a three day journey from SW MN. What made that journey even more remarkable is that this journey was completed with a 3 and 1 year-old, but to their credit, my kiddos did great.

Four months ago today, my family and I began this new chapter in our lives. We were in a hotel anxiously awaiting the moving truck to arrive at our Orting, WA home the next day. We could hardly wait to get settled in.

Four month ago today, my family and I entered a “foreign country” to follow God’s call in our lives. We were scared and excited, happy and sad; as we left family and friends behind in the Midwest to enter an exciting mission field.

Four months ago (tomorrow), my family and I were welcomed with open arms as my new congregation descended upon our home to help us move in. We felt so loved.


Four months ago (on the 29th), this pastor began serving a congregation in a box (we don’t have our own church building, yet).  I stood up to lead worship that morning, almost feeling like I was a visiting pastor, but this congregation quickly made me feel at home.

So many memories have been made these past four months. So many exciting things have been happening. So much for which to be thankful. I praise God for my first 12 years of ministry but now I continue to look forward to what God will do through me and my family here. Living Word Lutheran Church is a church on the move; not because it’s physical property is stored in a trailer but because it’s a church that knows that it can not remain stationary. They are on the move in this mission field; working hard to expand the Kingdom of God.

Four months ago today, my family and I joined the sinners and saints here to proclaim the Living Word of God in Jesus Christ. Four months that have been filled with blessings. I can hardly wait to see what the next four months will hold.


Me (left) and my friend, Pastor Dan (right) on the day of my installation.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

Installed and Restless

This pastor is officially installed. My wife giggles at this because it sounds like I’m an appliance or something.

I just nod and smile🙂

In any case, I have been installed as the Senior Pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in Puyallup, WA; a LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) congregation serving in the south Puget Sound area. And what a blessing it is to be here serving with these brothers and sisters in Christ. It was definitely God thing that my family and I got connected to this congregation. Yesterday was also special because my good friend, Pastor Dan Taylor, flew out from Iowa to preach and preside at my installation. We began serving our first calls in the same small MN town at around the same time (2 months apart and at different churches) nearly 12 years ago. It was fun to serve with him then and a joy to spend time with him this past weekend; listening to him share the Word of Christ with my new congregation.

And now, as I sit here writing this, I am beginning my 3rd week at Living Word. I am learning more and more names. I am learning the rhythms of the congregation. I am learning the lay of the land. And I am even starting to get used to city life; and that is a huge leap for the small town, rural Minnesota boy. I remember not so long ago saying that I would never ever live in a city.

(cue the chuckling)

Evidence, right there, that God has a sense of humor. I imagine God smiling when I was talking like that, but I am glad God took this small town boy out of his element and placed me somewhere outside my comfort zone. It forces me to fall back and rely on God even more because at times I am scared silly. Driving back from the airport last night in Seattle, I remember thinking, “Wow, everything moves so fast“. But God didn’t place me out here to abandon me, but rather to do something amazing. And for that I am excited. I just hope I never get comfortable here, so much so, that I cease relying on God to guide and strengthening me.

And so I look forward to learning more of what God is up to here. I look forward to getting to know people better and better. I look forward to seeing amazing things. And I look forward to more restlessness as God continues to place his hand upon me as He continues to put me at ease.

Oh God, may I always be restless but yet cling to you. Amen.

The Pastor -|—


This pastor is in transition.

You may have noticed a lack of activity here recently. That is due to the fact that we have been packing and getting ready for a new call in Puyallup, WA. Yesterday (Fri, May 27) we arrived in Puyallup and today we unload. Tomorrow (May 29) is my first Sunday. I will be back at it soon, posting as usual. I do miss writing but it just became difficult with the transition.

So in the meantime, may God bless you as you prepare to worship our awesome God tomorrow.


I am thankful God brought us safely here through some difficult driving through two mountain ranges pulling a trailer.

May God be praised always and forever.

The Pastor -|—

All Good Things…

All good things must come to end.

At least that is how the saying goes. And in my case that is true. Today, May 1, is my last Sunday as pastor of Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches. Today I say good bye to 12 amazing years as I grew from a young, inexperienced pastor to (dare I say) a seasoned pastor. Fresh out of seminary, I began serving at Salem one week after graduation. One month later I was married and off and running we went. Who knew (God did I guess) that we would spend the next 12 years of our lives living and serving in this small SW MN community.

And now, God is sending us to the west coast. Well, not exactly the coast but close. We are heading to the Tacoma, Washington area to serve a fairly new congregation as they strive to reach out to their community. We are excited, fearful, optimistic and a whole load of other emotions. It’s hard to leave an area that one has called home for a long time. It’s hard to leave family and friends. It is hard to leave one’s support system, but when God calls, God calls, and so off we go; trusting that God will provide and do some amazing things to show His glory.

Following today, I will have three Sundays off before I preach my first sermon in Puyallup, WA on May 29. Three Sundays off, wow, I just might start peeling my skin off as I have never gone that long without preaching. Maybe it will be a good break but I guess only time will tell. I love what I do and therefore leaving the people here is going to be hard. I am sure many tears will be shed today. So I appeal to God to send His Holy Spirit to give me strength to share the Gospel one more time in corporate worship here. May this be about God and not me. May this be about what God has done here the past 12 years. May this be about God’s faithfulness moving forward. And may this be about worshiping our awesome God and placing our faith in Him to lead us into an unknown future here and a known future with Him through faith in Jesus. God is faithful and God will provide for me and my family as well as the congregations of Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches.

In the mean time, I will continue to write here and look forward to sharing more stories of God faithfulness as we move to a “foreign country”. As God watched over Abraham and Sarah as they moved to a foreign land, I am confident God will do the same for me and my family.

So with that, I sign off on this “Sunday edition” as the pastor of Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches. May God continue to be glorified here, and through all of our lives, always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

P.S. CORRECTION ~ Not all good things come to an end for God is GOOD. All the time. All the time, God is GOOD🙂


Bedtime Blessing

The following is the bedtime blessing I speak over my son each night I get to lay him down:

Good night my sweet boy.
Mommy loves you and Daddy loves you,
but Jesus loves you more.
May God bless you with sweet dreams
and a peaceful sleep.
And God willing, may I see you in the morning.

Nothing fancy, just a daddy blessing his son.

Good night.

The Pastor -|—

Pulling Him Close

I want to share a story with you quick before the moment passes too far.

It was a moment that took place around 11 PM last night. My wife and I were getting ready for bed when I heard our little girl, Mayah, calling out for mommy and daddy. I went into her room; bent over her crib and said, “Sweetie, are you alright? What do you need?” She said nothing. I asked again but still nothing. Then I noticed that she didn’t have her mookie in her mouth so I searched and quickly found it under her pillow. I then asked, “Sweetie, is that better?” Still nothing. Then she stood up which meant she wanted to be rocked. Normally when I come into her room at night she tells me, “I want to rock” But no words this time. Just actions.

So I picked up my little girl, grabbed her blanket and sat down with her in the rocking chair. She then quickly curled up on my lap and snuggled in as close as she could possibly get, and peacefully went to sleep.

A huge smile formed on my face🙂

I sat there staring down at my sweet little girl, as happy as I could be; not wanting the moment to end. I then gently leaned over and planted a soft kiss on her cheek as to not disturb her peaceful slumber. But upon receiving my loving kiss, Mayah started moving her arm. She was trying to free her arm from her cozy blanket. Upon her arm breaking free, Mayah reached up and placed her hand on the back of my neck. She then pulled me in so my cheek was next to hers, and then held me tight. A gentle but firm hold as to say, “I want you close.” And with that she drifted off to sleep with tears of joy welling up in my eyes. After a couple of wonderful minutes, Mayah’s arm went limp and fell to her body. I then stood up, kissed her again and gently laid her in her crib. I leaned over and stared at her for a few more moments; watching her sleep, and then left her to her peaceful slumber.

What a moment, but now leave it to a pastor/.daddy to make a connection to our heavenly Father:

Oh that we would call out to God more and more; longing to be held by him and then pull God close for an intimate moment. Sometimes words are not necessary but rather just a few moments, basking in God’s love. Oh that we would call out to God and seek him; as God is always there, ready to show you incredible love. Oh that we would call out to God and know his grace; something that never fades and is never distant.

Oh that we would call out to our heavenly daddy…

The Pastor -|—

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 -|—