Trust is an essential building block for every healthy relationship. It is what makes the world go around. Without trust, marriages are not fruitful – if they last at all; friendships are shallow; life in community is lonely; children do not feel safe, and life in general becomes combative and competitive where the survival of the fittest is the rule. Trust must be earned. Often, earning trust can be a long process, but losing trust is swift. Trust is also an act of love. My children trust that when they go downstairs in the morning, I will feed them. My children trust that when they are scared, I will comfort them. My children trust that when they get hurt, I will put a band-aid on their wound (blood or no blood). My children trust me and thus I will do everything in my power to ensure they will always trust me, otherwise, they will not feel safe. You see, I want my children to feel safe and comfortable talking to me about anything. And that is the life we want in community – one of trust – but sadly, trust is lacking in many communities. Elected leaders have let people down over and over. Parents have violated the trust of their children through abuse. Husbands and wives have violated trust with each other through infidelity. Clergy have violated trust with congregations through misconduct. Many people have become jaded and thus the chaos and disharmony we are seeing in the world today. If only someone would step up, someone who we can trust, someone who can heal our wounds and bring people together.

Someone has stepped up and his name is Jesus.

God has never failed to follow through with any of His promises. God has never done anything to violate trust. God has never been unfaithful. God has always been there. Throughout scripture God promised to restore creation. Starting in Genesis 3 following the fall of man, God promised to send a Savior to defeat Satan once and for all. As you march through scripture, you see time and again, God following through. Ultimately, God proved His love and faithfulness through Jesus Christ, who died on a cross and rose from the dead to give forgiveness of sins and thus peace with God. You see, even though you are a sinner, God followed through on His promises. Even though you break promises with God, God never deserts you. Even though you are unfaithful, God remains faithful.

You will never find perfect community in this world. But through Jesus Christ, you have a God who perfectly loves you. And that is something you can trust, even in the midst of chaos, illness, sadness and death. You can trust that He is near. You can trust that He hears you. You can trust that you are His. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) This is a sure and certain promise, one you can trust. Amen.

Evening Trust

I entrust my body and soul to Your tender, gentle and mighty hands this night. For the darkness is not darkness to You. No evil dares confront You. You are Lord and sovereign King. You are my loving Father. You are all of this and more –  and I am Yours and thus i have no fear. So i entrust my body and soul to You this night and forevermore.

Falling Through

Two ways to go,
one of You
and one to forgo.
I want to follow You,
but I want my way too.
Oh God, I don’t want my plans to fall through.
I am tired of wandering.
I am tired of wondering.
When will rest come from You?
Oh God, I don’t want my plans to fall through.
This seems so right.
How can it be wrong?
It has to be the way from You.
Oh God, I don’t want my plans to fall through.
I’ve worked so hard.
I’ve been faithful.
This way has to honor You.
Oh God, I don’t want my plans to fall through.
But maybe this is not Your plan.
Maybe this is not Your way,
so if that be the case,
Oh God, let MY plans fall through,
So I can follow YOU.


We turn our eyes away from God,
and Satan laughs.
We fight among ourselves,
and Satan laughs.
We seek our own agendas,
and Satan laughs.
We put our needs before other’s,
and Satan laughs.
We build earthly kingdoms,
and Satan laughs.
We worry,
and Satan laughs.

We do anything and everything but seek the glory of God,
and Satan laughs.


Let’s look to God,
let’s seek reconciliation,
let’s seek God’s will,
let’s humble ourselves,
let’s seek to advance God’s kingdom,
let’s trust God.

Let’s do anything and everything we can to bring glory to God’s holy name through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let’s laugh at Satan and tell him to go to hell. Our Lord, Jesus, reigns.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

Whom do you follow?

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
[Psalm 118:8-9]

Sound advice but one that is hard to put in actual practice especially during an active political season where promises are being made left and right by individuals trying to earn your trust and get your vote.

And these promises grab our attention because:
~ We see the economic struggles around us.
~ We see poverty and homeless in our communities.
~ We see people struggling to find work.
~ We see people scraping to get by each month.
~ We see troubles all around us.

Or…you may find yourself smack dab in the middle of the chaos and are looking for a savior.

But then ~ someone comes along who promises they can fix things; turn the economy around; create jobs and put more money in our pockets. When that person (or political party) makes these promises we are tempted to give them our “worship”.  After all, if they can fix what is wrong in our lives, why shouldn’t we follow them.

But here’s the problem…

…when we follow man we will be lead astray for they can only take us so far; for they are mortal and will not last forever.  If we put our trust in man/princes alone we may be happy for a season but it won’t last.


…when we put our trust in the Lord we will have a joy that WILL last forever despite any hardships we may face now.  For only God can give us what we truly need: forgiveness and everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So put your faith in the Lord.
Find your refuge in God our Creator.
Place your trust in Jesus Christ.

And know true JOY ~ all the while praying for those who are in elected office and running for office; praying that God may use them.

But place your trust in the Lord, not in man.

edh -|—

Chariots and horses

Psalm 20:7
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

I read this verse this morning and almost chuckled at the fact that some people actually trusted in chariots and horses (otherwise the psalmist would not have mentioned it).  Obviously he is referring to those who trust in the military might and strength; making them their god.   But upon further reflection, I began to wonder how the psalmist might write this verse if he were living in the United States today.


Some trust in __________ (how would you fill in the blank?)
Smartphones (I almost hesitate to write this since this describes me)
Etc, etc, etc…

Of course I could go on.  And now I am no longer chuckling.

In seminary I had a professor that said “Anything you fear more than God has become your god.”  And I think we can put trust in that quote and get the same meaning. “Anything/Anyone you trust more than God has become your god.”  When I write it that way I get a little nervous and a little shifty in my chair…because it is true.

How many gods do you have in your life?  I know I have a few (which I am not proud of).  Now all of a sudden I am less judgmental towards those who trusted in chariots and horses.

In scripture we read about people who trusted in the name of the Lord our God.  They were fulfilled and happy.  They felt safe and secure.  And why not?  When God, the creator of the universe, is your god then you have a God who is above all things…and all gods.  The things and people we trust in this life more than God can not do for us what God can.  The things and people in this life can not give us life beyond this one; they can not give us hope; they can not give us strength.  Holding onto my smartphone may give me comfort; for I have instant access to the world, but nothing can compare to holding onto God who IS the world.

Let us place our trust in the Lord our God and not in gods. Amen!


Out of the storm

In Job 38 verse 1 it says, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm…“.  And then in chapter 42 Job realized how foolish he was to not trust God.

In Mark 4:35-41 the disciples (with Jesus) are in the midst of a storm.  When called upon Jesus answered out of the storm…and the storm was quieted.  But the disciple are amazed and still have no clue who this Jesus is.

When you are in the midst of a storm, do you expect Jesus to answer you out of the storm; in the midst of a world crashing in all around you?  And when Jesus does answer, what do you expect?  I think people expect God to calm the storm that is raging all around us, but what God wants to do is calm the storm within us.

It is the calm that is within us; the peace that surpasses all understanding, that powers us through the storms raging all around us.  When Jesus died on the cross…FOR YOU…and when Jesus rose from the grave…FOR YOU…Jesus paved the way through the storm.  This is not a scheme to make out lives better now, but rather it is Good News…NOW (which does make our lives better).  But it’s already been done; Jesus has won; the storms have lost their power; and Jesus is already in the boat with you.

What do you need to do?  Nothing…but look behind you…Jesus right there.


Youth ministry vision

For a couple months now, myself and a couple other people here in Jackson have been talking about the future of youth ministry in Jackson County.  At present, there is only one church in Jackson County that has a youth director (1st Baptist in Jackson) and that person is only part time.  We see a huge mission field that needs to be tapped.

Right now the vision we have been playing with and praying about is to have a ministry set up with a full time person running the ministry.  This ministry would be run and supported by a board of directors (representative of all the churches).  We believe this ministry needs to be located outside of our church buildings and in a neutral location (possibly an old store front downtown).  We have toured other community youth ministry programs to get an idea of what we might be able to do.  We visited The Connection in Canby, MN and the Youth For Christ center in Fairmont, MN.  In the Dawson, MN area there is a rural youth ministry network that just started this past fall called Route 212.  They don’t have a building, but that is something they are praying about.  And I know there is a community youth ministry program/building in Olivia, MN.

Is Jackson next?

The main thing for us (and the other ministries we have looked at) is that this ministry needs to be a Bible based, Christian ministry.  We recognize that our different denominations have various beliefs and practices, but when it comes right down to it, we believe that Jesus Christ is our salvation.  There are many things we can agree upon and we want to celebrate that.

This vision started with Salem and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches talking about sharing a youth director…now it has grown to this.  So today at 1pm a bunch of us are getting together to pray.  We know that if this is God directed and ordained then we can not fail…but we need to be faithful and listen to God’s voice.  So we are committed to praying about this and listening.  We don’t know how this ministry will look or if we are even called to do this, but one thing I do know…there is a lot of excitement about this among our small group.  Our hope is that, if this is ordained by God, this vision will catch on with others.

So my questions for you are these: Is there anyone out there that has a community youth ministry program in their area?  How is it set up?  What is your experience with it?

Like I said, I don’t know where this will go and there are a lot of questions to be asked and answered, but where ever it does go, it will be all for the glory of God.

Praise be to God!


Getting a little concerned

For the past few days, the "weather experts" have been forecasting severe weather to hit SW MN today; into tonight and tomorrow morning.  Normally I get excited about thunderstorms but I am not excited today.  I am actually getting a little concerned.  My wife called me from work this morning and said that in Lakefield, MN (10 miles NW of Jackson) there are a number of storm chasers from Oklahoma waiting for the tornado outbreak that is expected to hit our area.  These people are the serious chasers, so when they come to your area, it means they expect something big.

The logical and faithful thing to do is pray for God's protection as these storms develop and rumble ever closer.  But yet I find myself thinking of the worst.  I am worried about my wife who is in Windom (20 miles away).  I am worried about my friends and parishioners (Jenna and her dad are traveling to Sioux Falls today).  I am worried about our house and all the stuff we have.  I am worried about the church building (if anything, I hope the sanctuary ramp is destroyed but the building spared.  The ramp is coming out anyway).  Basically…I am worried.  Please pray for all those in the path of these storms. 

I know we have an almighty God who is in control.  I know we have a loving God who wants nothing but the best for us.  I know we have a God who will never leave us.  And even though I am worried about what the day may bring; whether it is a devastating tornado or minor storm damage, I know God will be with us through it all.  But I still cannot help but be a little concerned.  "Oh God…I believe, help my unbelief."


A matter of perspective

This past weekend I made a monumental decision…I decided to CHANGE my normal morning running route.  I know, I know…a Lutheran CHANGING something…wild, I know, but I needed to spice things up a bit. 

We have a trail system that lines the Des Moines River in Jackson which is really pretty to walk, run or bike on, but even that was not enough to prevent me from deviating from my normal course.  So…I left the trail and hit the road.  As I was running I came upon Bluff Ave. in Jackson.  This street is not very long (about a block and a half), but it does have a hill.  I have driven it many times and never really thought much about it…until I arrived at the base of the hill.  As I looked UP the street I thought to myself, "Who tampered with this street and made the hill steeper?"  My run up that hill was interesting.  I made it, but I was puffing pretty hard by the time I got to the top.  Of course no one tampered with the street, but that hill sure looked bigger outside the confines of my car.

This morning I decided to alter my route once again, not because the Bluff Ave. hill scared me, but because a friend of mine challenged me to run along Springfield Parkway.  Dan said he runs this street and the long gradual hill is quite a workout.  My first thought was, "What hill? (I need to tell you here that I have lived in Jackson for over three years so one would think I would know this town pretty well by now…a town of 3,500 people).  As I thought I realized that there was a little incline to that street but no big deal.

<Insert chuckle or laughter here>

As I left the trail and turned onto Springfield Parkway this morning I was once again blown away.  "Who tampered with THIS street?"  Springfield Parkway is quite a bit longer (just over 1/4 mile) than Bluff Ave but not as steep, but the hill still look monstrous because of how long it was.  I made it to the top, but once again I was puffing a lot of air.

After my experiences with Bluff Ave and Springfield Parkway I realized something.  For the first time I was looking at those two streets from a difference perspective.  In my car I hardly noticed the hills because my car is doing all the work.  My car doesn’t even down shift to tackle those hills.  But outside my car, those hills looked like mountains (O.K….I may be exaggerating…sightly…but they WERE big).

I then started reflecting:  This is a lot like our relationship with God.  When we turn things over to God, life seems more bearable, but when we try to handle things on our own, little problems look like mountains that are far beyond our capabilities.  It’s really a matter of perspective.  God seems to make big problems (or mountains) manageable.  God doesn’t take them away, but is our source of strength.  And when we can’t do it anymore, God is the one carrying us.  I think that is why I like the poem "Footprints" so well.  When the person walking on the beach could only see one set of foot prints in the sand, during the most difficult times in his life, it was then that God carried him.

So God showed me something today.  Even though I can run Springfield Parkway and Bluff Ave. without keeling over dead, I would not want to do that day in and day out.  I am glad God is my God.  I am glad that I don’t have to walk this life alone.  I am glad that I will always have someone who cares and understands me.  God knows my strengths and weaknesses.  God knows when I can handle things (with His gentle nudgings and encouragements of course) and Gods knows when I can’t do it.  And when I can’t do it, it is then that God carries me UP that hill.

It’s a matter of perspective:  With God or without God.  It’s really a no-brainer…isn’t it?