Time to Reap

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
[Matthew 9:37-38]

Have you prayed about this? Have you noticed what Jesus is saying; that the harvest is plentiful? Have you asked Jesus to send people into the field to reap the harvest? Well, have you? Now, have you included yourself in that prayer? No? Well, why not? I bet you’ve said something along the lines of, “I’m not qualified“, “I’m too old“, “I’m too young”, “I’m retired”, or any number of other lame excuses. Yes, I just said that, “lame excuses‘, because that’s what they are. If Jesus sends you into the mission field then Jesus will qualify you. And Jesus has sent you because your mission field are the people in your immediate social network.

What social network? I’m not on Facebook or Twitter?

I’m not talking about social media but your social NETWORK; those people you interact with on a regular basis. They are your family, friends, neighbors, restaurant servers, child’s teacher, UPS delivery person, coworkers, etc, etc, etc. You get the point, right? You are already smack dab in the middle of the plentiful harvest. And the workers that are needed?

YOU!!!

Pray not only that God would send workers into the harvest but pray that God would use you. Don’t just pray for revival in the church but pray that revival begins with you. I guarantee you that if you pray boldly like this; for God to send you into the harvest, God will do something amazing through you for His glory. Besides, those people closest to you, why wouldn’t you want them to know about Jesus?

So go ahead, pray the prayer and then hold on. The harvest is ready. Will you go for Jesus?

The Pastor -|—

The Mission

Holy God,
what a relief it is that my
strength,
abilities,
knowledge,
credentials,
and the like
are not what you are looking for
to advance the kingdom of heaven.
As Luther said in his sacristy prayer,
“if it were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin”.
That is so true.
Rather,
you call the unqualified to proclaim Your Good News;
qualifying us through the Holy Spirit.
May we keep our eyes on You
and not turn inward; thinking either
“I am not qualified” and thus turn away from the mission,
or think,
“I am pretty good” and thus focus on our abilities; derailing the mission.
Holy God,
through Jesus Christ You redeemed us and empowered us.
May we not abandon the mission
but rather proclaim from the mountain top,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
All praise, honor, glory and worship be unto You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen!

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.

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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.

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

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

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 -|—

Off your butt

In a few moments I will be leaving this closet I call an office and heading out into the community to do something I thoroughly enjoy…

Visit people.

My first stop will be The Pines (the assisted living facility here in Jackson).  On the first Tuesday of every month I meet with the Salem members living there to bring them communion and to visit.  Next, I will go to what many people call my second office: Coffee Choices (I think the title of the place is self-explanatory).  In addition to getting my afternoon coffee I hope to run into people to visit with; if not customers then the staff.

And after my coffee stop I will see where the wind blows me.

To some, this may look like I am being lazy and not working, but on the contrary, this is extremely important work.  To be a minister of the Gospel; whether a called pastor or a lay person, you need to go out to where people are at.  You need to engage people in their context.  You need to listen to people and relate to what they are going through.  And to do this ministry you need to get out there.

You can’t just sit and wait for people to find you; you need to find them. You need to take the initiative.  You need to take advantage of opportunities that God gives you. I am not saying that as a Christian that you need to have a sermon ready to preach to everyone you meet.  What I am saying is that you need to be ready to show love to everyone and to do that you need to get off your butt.

It’s really simply ministry when you think about it; you get some exercise and maybe a cup of coffee or two.

So here I go.  My butt is leaving this chair. Will I see you out there?

The pastor -|—

Sometimes…

Don’t judge me when you see me seemingly doing nothing:
~ Sometimes I just need to sit and reflect.
~ Sometimes I just need to savor the Word just read.
~ Sometimes I just need to talk to my Savior.
~ Sometimes I just need to slowly sip my coffee.
~ Sometimes I just need to daydream about the ministry before me.
~ Sometimes I just need to mull over a conversation.

Sometimes I look lazy, sometimes I look lost but whatever the case don’t judge me because it’s in those times I can be the most productive. Many people don’t understand how a pastor works because how a pastor works can be so different from how we saw our parents work. But a pastor’s work can be just as taxing thus the different kind of work we sometimes engage in.

Today I sat in the corner at my favorite coffee shop for an hour or so; holding my Google tablet, sipping coffee and nibbling on a cookie.

And that was work.

My finger nails didn’t get dirty and I don’t have sore muscles as you know them but the pastor does feel the effects of ministry thus my coffee shop work.

And as I walked back to my office; breathing in the cool winter air, I felt refreshed and ready to do some more “traditional” work; work that doesn’t draw the ire of some.

But now you may say, “Work? You’re writing a blog post. How is that work?” To answer that fully I would have to write another blog post but I’m not going to do that. So what I will say in response will have to suffice for now:

Sometimes I just have to write…

And that is work of a different kind; one that exercises the mind.  But now I’m off and ready to go; thankful for the “work” I did today.  May God be praised in all I do and say; and not just sometimes but always.

The pastor -|—

We get to

I heard a statement yesterday that I hate to hear ~ but I also love it hear it:
“Eric has to preach tomorrow.”

“Has to”?  Really?

My response was immediate:
“I get to preach tomorrow.”

I hate to hear that phrase because it makes what I do sound laborious and tedious and that I really don’t enjoy it; that I would rather be doing something else.  But I love to hear that phrase because it gives me the opportunity to share my faith and the excitement I have in preaching and leading worship.

“Have to”?  Not even close.

Of course people smile and nudge me as soon as I correct them as if to say: “That is what I meant.” But part of me doesn’t believe them.  Even so…I had an opportunity yesterday and I am happy to say that I took it.

Don’t get me wrong though.  I am not trying to say that my job is any better than yours.  I am not trying to imply that my job is more honorable than yours.  I am certainly not saying that your job doesn’t matter as much as mine.  Sure…I get to stand in front of people and proclaim the Gospel in what I hope to be no uncertain terms.  But then again…so do you.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
[1 Peter 2:9-10]

We are ALL called to be ministers.
We are ALL called to proclaim Christ’s saving love.
We are ALL called to witness to the resurrection.

It’s just that my “job description” is a little different from yours.  We ALL have holy and important callings.  For God has placed each one of us in the vocation we are in for a particular purpose…so make the most of it.  Instead of saying (or thinking) “I have to go to work”, say instead “I get to go to work and share my faith with others.”  That is a holy and important work. Imagine the impact we could have on the world if we looked at our “jobs” as mission outposts for the sake of the Gospel.

God, please help me see myself as an instrument for your glory.  Help me to see my place in life as having a specific purpose.  May you be praise through my “work”. Amen.

edh -|—