Post-Easter Thankfulness

The Pastor is on vacation.

I am currently resting with family and friends; relaxing and reflecting on another Lenten and Easter season and the verdict is in:

It was good.

Notice that I did NOT say (with a sense of relief):

It is finished.

The jokes are out there, you see, that pastors are so shot after Easter that they feel like crawling into and curling up in Jesus’ empty tomb for a while.

“Don’t talk to me for a few days.”

I don’t feel that way. I feel energized and content and happy and filled. No, I didn’t take a 46 day vacation between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It’s just that the congregation I serve with, served together and thus I don’t feel drained but filled. I gave it my all but was never disconnected from the True Vine. I am not bragging but just thankful. I led worship and preached twice a week, but also worshiped and listened to what I was saying. Lent was refreshing, not life-draining.

And this is the way it should be. Looking back at a season that focuses on our mortality and sinfulness; worshiping while reflecting on Jesus’ last moments and death on a cross and then seeing an empty tomb and then hearing that proclamation: HE HAS RISEN! How can one not feel energized and thankful and joyful.

It is (indeed) finished and I am (indeed) thankful; thankful that Jesus finished what he came to do. Thankful that I have the hope of the resurrection. Thankful that I have been refreshed and ready for another season.

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

Holy God,
You have refreshed me
through this Lenten and Easter season.
You have reminded me
who we are and whose I am.
You have shown me the extent of Your love.
May I cling to this Truth.
May I dwell in Your love.
May I proclaim this Good News.
May I continue to know Jesus better.
Oh God,
You are an awesome God.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The (thankful) Pastor -|—

 

For My Friend, Jeannette

A void is present
without your life now
and we wish that you were still here.
Life is not the same without your big smile
and so we mourn and shed our tears.

Difficult it is,
to accept your death,
we remember your life so sweet.
Sharing our stories of a life well lived;
knowing that we will again meet.

Cancer took your life;
thinking it has won;
and robbing us of your sweet life.
But cancer’s loud and futile vic’try cry
is swallowed up in Jesus Christ.

And so we thank God
who has won the fight,
through shattering Satan’s strong hold.
So thanks be to God who gives us true hope,
that we too may live a life bold.

Until we meet again, Jeannette…

Praise be to God, always and forever!

The Pastor -|—

.blog

Hey all,

The Heart of a Pastor is now the owner of http://www.heartofapastor.blog.  I decided to streamline my blog address as the new .blog domain names just became available. This shouldn’t mess people up (too much). I believe my old (and longer) address will redirect you to my site.

In any case, nothing is changing with this site, just the shorter address. So to close, I am not going to leave with you just an administrative update but rather with the Word of God:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13

Have a great day 🙂

The Pastor -|—

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.

13509099_1047104602033409_1600469877944523055_n

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.

13528793_1047153085361894_3983795291184385006_n

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 -|—

Moving

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.

Me?

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 🙂