Two Homes Lost in Garretson (And How YOU Can Help!)

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Courtesy: Garretson Gazette

On Thursday, May 11th two families lost their homes to a horrible fire. Thankfully, no people were hurt but pets were lost in the blaze. For one of these families – the Ellis family – this was the second time in two years that they lost their home. The first time happened in a windstorm that destroyed parts of Garretson a few years ago.

The Rescue Church in Garretson – where I currently pastor – wanted to respond in a radical way. We firmly believe that Christians should be the most generous people on the face of the earth. We should practice sacrificial, extravagant, self-denying, foolish-looking generosity!

So we gave away 100% of our offering this past Sunday! It will be split 50/50 between the two families.

Truthfully, we are only playing a small role. It was been incredible seeing the community of Garretson rally around the victims of this tragedy. Multiple businesses, churches, organizations, and individuals have contributed time, talent, and money to provide relief for these families.

Here are a few stories by the local news media about how the community is responding:

If you would like to help these families you can do so in multiple ways:

1. There are two funds set-up at First Bank & Trust in Garretson. The names of the funds are “Zion Lutheran Church for the Benefit of the Ellis Family” & “Zion Lutheran Church for the Benefit of the Eide Family.”

2. There is a GoFundMe set-up for the Ellis family so you can give online.

3. There is a Target registry set up for the Ellis family. This registry will be updated by the family when they have the opportunity to do so.

4. Vince Eide – the owner of the other house that was lost – is an avid shopper at Campbell’s Supply and Ace Hardware. He has requested gift cards to these stores. These cards can be sent to the following address:
Vince Eide
P.O. Box 135
Garretson, SD 57030

The Great Invitation (Message)

Here is a message I recently preached about the Samaritan woman Jesus encounters at the well. I pray that it encourages you in your faith and helps you understand just how much God loves you!

(If you are reading this in your e-mail you may have to go to the actual page to watch the message)

I preach most weeks at the Garretson Campus of The Rescue Church. If you are ever in the area, I’d love for you to join us!

Garretson Campus Birthday Party!

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Today I had the honor of celebrating the birthday of the Garretson Campus of The Rescue Church! The Rescue Church is a multi-site church with a vision of impacting rural communities with the Gospel. I have been incredibly encouraged by God’s faithfulness over the past year and a half of ministry. Ultimately, the church exists because Jesus sustains it – NOT because of what I have done!

Here is a short video that explains the journey of the Garretson Campus so far:


The service itself was incredible. We had a time for people to share testimonies of what God has done in their lives over the past year. I am utterly amazed that God would use a little church campus meeting in a leased storefront to change the lives of so many people.. To HIM be the glory!

Join me at Church Online!

I recently shot a new introduction video for the iCampus of The Rescue Church. As many of you know, one of my roles is the iCampus Pastor. Our iCampus is our ministry that we use to reach all over the world with the incredible news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection!

If you have not been to church in awhile and would like to check out The Rescue Church from the comfort of your home, I would love to have you join me on the iCampus. The direct link is www.therescuechurch.tv

Below is the new introduction video. I will “see” you Sunday at 10am!

Why Seminary?

Why Seminary

As some of you may know, I will begin attending Sioux Falls Seminary this Fall. I have received many questions and congratulations as I begin my new journey into higher education. With that being said, I also believe people have assumed certain reasons as to why I am going – some of them being true and some of them being false.

In order to articulate to you as much as to myself, let me clear up the confusion.

I’m NOT going to seminary to be a pastor.
My goal is to continue to pastor and serve God in the context of a local church but that is NOT the primary reason I am going to seminary. I do NOT believe one needs to attend seminary to pastor a church. With that being said, I DO believe pastors should be highly educated and trained for ministry. Seminary is simply one tool (and just that, a tool) to prepare men and women for ministry.

I received most of my training through The Rescue Church; learning from seasoned pastors in the context of practical ministry. This has been an excellent resource as I have pioneered and launched both an online campus and a physical campus through the training I received.

I’m NOT going to seminary to be respected.
If I were to be respected simply because I have letters after my name then I would rather not be in that person’s company. I know of pastors and leaders that have absolutely no formal education and have an impact far greater than one could imagine simply because they are passionate about Jesus (see Charles Spurgeon).

If you ever feel adequate for ministry because of your education, you are NOT ready for the pastorate.

No amount of formal or informal education will completely equip you to serve in ministry. The pastorate is purposely impossible to do in human strength so that pastors rely solely on God’s power.

Once you reach a place of drifting comfortably in ministry, you are leading the church towards stale stagnancy or worse, devastating destruction.

I AM going to Seminary to learn.
This SHOULD be a given, unfortunately it is not. I have seen many men who, having already received training through their church, arrive at seminary with an arrogant, unteachable attitude. If anything, my time in ministry has shown me how much I am LACKING, not how much I know.

One of the disadvantages of informal training is lack of different perspectives. I tend to stay within my “tribe” of Christianity rather than having conversations with those who disagree with me. I am challenged practically by informal training and challenged theologically through formal schooling.

Ultimately, I want to have my theology structured from Scripture, not pragmatics and experience.

Specifically, I am looking forward to learning and growing in the following areas:

  • Church History
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Greek and Hebrew
  • Preaching
  • Church Polity (Structure)

As I am challenged over the next four years, I am convinced this list will grow (which is what I am excited for!)

I AM going to Seminary to be obedient.
For many people, as I said before, seminary is simply one tool of many to prepare for ministry. For me, I believe I am disobedient to God if I do not pursue formal training and education. I have felt the Holy Spirit call me to attend seminary and He has opened the doors to make it possible.

My biggest smokescreen to skip out on seminary was the price. How the heck is a minister in a rural setting suppose to pay off graduate level debt?!

When I first visited Sioux Falls Seminary, I bluntly told the man I met with that I am not willing to go into debt for a master’s degree. He then explained to me the Kairos Project at the seminary. In a nutshell, the Kairos Project is for people who are already involved in ministry. Instead of the education being formed around classes, it is formed around mentors. One of the greatest benefits of the Kairos Project is the cost, it is only $300/month for a Master of Divinity! (This price will go up to around $600/month but I will be locked into the $300/month rate as I am one of the first students going through it.)

Unfortunately, the Kairos Project has very limited room for students. I applied for Seminary late in the Summer, far past the deadline for regular acceptance, which means I was WAY behind in applying for the Kairos Project. Somehow, by the grace of God, I got accepted into both for the Fall.

Therefore, God is not only guiding me towards seminary, he is providing for it. To not go would be disobedient to His clear calling on my life.


If you are a young man (or even an older man) please do not feel as if you must attend seminary to become a pastor. I would encourage you to speak to the elders in your local church and receive both training and direction from them. Ultimately, it is the church’s job to raise up pastors, not a seminary’s.

By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the Kairos Project, you can watch the short video below:

Walk With the Wise

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We are currently in a series called #WISDOM at The Rescue Church. We are using this series to study the remarkable book of Proverbs. Proverbs was written by the wisest man who has ever lived (next to Jesus), named King Solomon. Proverbs consists of short phrases with profound meaning – similar to a Twitter feed!

This past week, Chase Riber preached on Proverbs 13:20:
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

If you show me your friends, I can show you your future! Who you allow into the inner circle of your life matters. Chase broke this down by asking if you have the right THEY around you. If you want to walk with the wise, you should find the following characteristics in those closest to you –

THEY are TOUGH (Prov. 17:17; 27:17)
The people in your life MUST be tough in multiple ways. First of all, they need to be able to walk with you through tough times. All of us have seasons in life when we experience profound anguish. Some call this the dark night of the soul, others simply called it the wall. You will reach a point in your life (multiple times for most of us) that you are utterly broken and you feel as if God has abandoned you. This has been the experience of saints throughout the centuries.

You NEED friends who are tough enough to endure these dark times.

Second, your friends need to be tough WITH you. They need to have the courage and ability to hold you accountable to Scripture. All of us are blind at times to our own sin and hypocrisy, following in the steps of the Pharisees. In order to grow in holiness and purity, we need friends who are not afraid to call us out in our blindness.

THEY are HONEST (Eph. 4:25)
Those closest to you need to walk in honesty and integrity. If you are surrounding yourself with people who consistently lie, exaggerate, and puff themselves up – You WILL follow suit. Your close friends need to be honest with you, in regards to YOUR sin and their OWN sin.

Our natural tendency is to shroud ourselves in secrecy. Our anger flares up any time we feel our privacy is threatened. If you want to walk with the wise, you need to sacrifice this impulse. Your life needs to be opened up in order for God to use your friends to sanctify you.

THEY are ENCOURAGING (Heb. 3:13; 10:24)
The majority of people are overwhelmed with a constant stream of negativity. Many of our own thoughts consist of condemnation and judgment. Our self-talk is a barrage of remarks we say to ourselves that would be considered slander if we spoke them out loud to other people. Satan uses our cynical thoughts in an attempt to deceive us about our true identity in Christ.

Your friends need to encourage you with their words, actions, and conduct! The power of LIFE and DEATH is in the tongue; are your friends speaking life into you or death? Your friends have profound influence over your outlook of life – Choose friends who will use this incredible ability for your encouragement!

THEY are YIELDED (Matt. 22:37; 1 Cor. 11:1)
This is by far the most importance characteristic that should be evident in your friends’ lives. The lives of your THEY should be ones that yield in humility to the God of the universe. The lives of your friends should be in submission to God’s authority.

If your friends are in a constant state of rebellion towards God, you will follow them into rejecting Him for all eternity.

All of the other characteristics – toughness, encouraging, and honesty – should be the fruit of a life yielded to God. Practically, they should be exercising these practical steps for spiritual growth on a regular basis. If those closest to you are yielding to God, YOU will become wise.


T.H.E.Y = TOUGH, HONEST, ENCOURAGING, YIELDED

What about you? Are YOU the right THEY in the lives of your friends? Do you display these characteristics? I believe all of us fall short in at least one of these areas. Personally, my unrelenting sarcasm causes me to fall short consistently when it comes to encouraging those around me.

What change do YOU need to make? Submit to the Word of God and begin today. 

Radical Honesty

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If you have not read the first four posts in this series, be sure to read them below:
Ladder of Humility (Part One)
Ladder of Humility (Part Two)
Ladder of Humility (Part Three)
Ladder of Humility (Part Four)


Imagine this scenario: You are sitting in the waiting room of a hospital, looking over a magazine. As you look up, you see a man with a bloody stump where his arm use to be. The medical team rushes out to help him but he acts as if nothing is wrong. The blood is dripping onto the carpet but he hides all signs of pain or worry. He does not want to make others uncomfortable and refuses to seek help because of pride.

Friends, this is a picture of our churches every Sunday morning.

We shroud ourselves in secrecy – even to our own families.

The church is to be a place of radical honesty. A place where people freely confess their sins, weaknesses, and brokenness to one another without fear of judgment. The local church is to be a sanctuary and hospital for sinners.

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The fifth step on the Ladder of Humility is, “Radical honesty to others about your weaknesses/faults.” The church is to be counter-cultural. Unfortunately in this area we have been INFECTED by the culture instead of AFFECTING the culture. There needs to be a radical change in our hearts and minds; we must kill our pride and be honest about our shortcomings, sins, and weaknesses with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul describes this in Ephesians 4:15:
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

I see two points that Paul makes in this passage –

  1. Radical honesty must begin and end with love. Honesty should characterize our churches and lives because we love one another. Part of this love is accepting others despite their faults and shortcomings. We are to accept one another, even when we screw up, because God has accepted us in Christ Jesus when we DEFINITELY did not deserve it.
  2. Radical honesty will result in spiritual maturity. Many would agree the church in the west is far too shallow. We focus on numbers to the detriment of true spiritual growth. We are content as long the seats are full and the offering is strong each week. Radical honesty challenges our egotistical comfort because it molds us to look more like Jesus.

Remove your mask. I know it will be painful because pride dies hard. Pursue radical honesty in regards to your faults and weaknesses. Extend acceptance to others who are broken.

The Christian life is a journey and the church is to be a hospital where people come to find hope and healing.

You and I do NOT have it all together so let’s quit deceiving ourselves and come to the Great Shepherd with all of our brokenness and sin.


Why do YOU think it is so hard for people to be truly honest with one another? Leave a comment and let me know!

How To Suffer Well

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In the midst of intense suffering, it is nearly impossible to keep our eyes on Jesus. Our prayer life begins to feel robotic and weak. Even when we are gathered together with our church, we feel distant from both God and others. Some refer to these times as the dark night of the soul.

Nearly two thousand years ago, an early follower named Peter wrote about this experience. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, he encourages us with the following words:

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.” – 1 Peter 4:12-13

1. Expect Suffering.
Peter does not say IF the “fiery ordeal comes” but WHEN. If we do not properly prepare ourselves with a theology of suffering, we will be burned up and burned out by trials. There is a false teaching that has run rampant, especially in the western church. These so-called teachers twist Scripture and deceive believers by concluding that God will grant us lives free of suffering because He loves us. This teaching shows a complete disregard for the Word of God.

Friends, you and I suffer BECAUSE God loves us.

Intense times of trial and suffering are NOT unusual. It is something that comes upon every Christian. When you claim the name of Jesus, you receive a target on your back. There is an enemy of your soul who wants to see you destroyed. But take heart, the One who is in you is FAR GREATER than the enemy!

2. Suffering Will Test You.
Suffering rips away every illusion of control that we hold in our minds. It is easy for us to become dangerously comfortable with our lives. We check “religion” off our to-do list each morning as we read the Scriptures in a stale, lifeless fashion. We go to church once a week, sing a few songs, listen to someone teach, and believe we are growing in our faith.

Suffering will reveal to you whether or not your faith is genuine. I promise you that empty religion will not sustain your soul when darkness clouds your mind and emotions.

Yes, you will have doubts as you suffer. You may become angry at God. You will also feel as if God has abandoned you at times. Those are the godly reactions we read about in the Psalms – all of those are expected. Yet, if your faith is shaken to the core and you leave the experience concluding that God is neither good nor real, your belief in God is based on the quicksand of circumstances. As these circumstances change, your faith is either strengthened or demolished.

If this is where you are at, cry out to God for mercy, grace, and salvation. You CANNOT save yourself, regardless of how many religious duties you perform. Salvation is a supernatural work of God – He is the Author, Sustainer, and Perfecter.

3. Rejoice As You Suffer.
Easier said than done, right? Peter’s command for us to rejoice as we face the heart-wrenching effects of suffering makes absolutely no sense to our fleshly minds. Our rejoicing is deeply rooted with our sharing in the sufferings of Jesus. The greatest experience any human being can attain is fellowship with the Living God.

Suffering draws each one of us to the Garden of Gethsemane. Although there may be deep anguish, blood-soaked sweat, and loud cries, we are in the presence of a God who loves us.

Friends, we rejoice in the midst of suffering because there is NOTHING greater than experiencing God.

Paul, a leader of the early church, wrote a beautiful passage describing our pain. One look at Paul and you would see the visible scars where his flesh had been ripped out of his body repeatedly because of his faith. Paul had been ostracized by his community, rejected by the culture, and tortured by the government. Yet as Paul reflects on his life, he teaches us:

“Our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” – 1 Cor. 4:17

Paul suffered far more than us. Yet, he describes his own anguish as momentary and light because he was viewing suffering through the lens of eternity. I can promise you that Paul does not regret even one trial he experienced because he knew that our trials cause us to await with eager expectation the coming of our Messiah.


Friends, expect to be tested by suffering. In the midst of the blinding pain, remember: It is not even worth comparing to the eternal weight of glory God has prepared for those He loves.

God Chooses Weak People.

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Check out the Message that inspired this post by clicking HERE!

Have you ever faced a challenge and felt COMPLETELY inadequate and unprepared?

I have felt this way for the past eleven months (and still do). I have the honor and privilege of pastoring The Rescue Church in Garretson, SD. I remember having many conversations with my wife leading up to launch, explaining how I thought I was the wrong guy for the job. I’m not the best leader. I’m not the best counselor. I’m not the best speaker. And I’m definitely not the best pastor.

Why the heck would God choose ME to help lead His Church?

When I got to Garretson this morning, I sat in the sanctuary and looked out over all the chairs and equipment. Eleven months ago, I thought all of it was impossible. I never would have said that out loud, but in the quiet times the enemy whispered lies into my ear.

If you have ever felt this way, I want to encourage you with a Scripture that has spoken deeply into my heart and situation. The Apostle Paul writes this to a young church in Corinth –
“Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world – what is viewed as nothing – to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in his presence.” 1 Cor. 1:26-29

If you feel foolish, weak, insignificant, and despised you are in the BEST position to be used powerfully by the Living God.

Be of good courage today if you are overwhelmed by what God has called you to do. He has purposely chosen YOU for His purposes so that HE receives all the credit. I discovered that God chose me to plant His Church in Garretson precisely because there is no possible way I could do it in my own power.

God chooses people who seem to have nothing to offer SO THAT when God paints a beautiful picture with that person’s life, HE receives the credit and glory – not the brush.


What about you? Leave a comment about a time when you felt inadequate yet God STILL showed up in a powerful way THROUGH your weaknesses.

Kickball and Palm Trees

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(Below is a guest post from Jon Sanders. Jon serves as the Lead Pastor of The RESCUE Church, a multi-site church with a huge vision for reaching rural communities for Jesus Christ.  You can connect with Jon @ jonsanders.org)

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4

I was recently reminded of this verse as I was serving with a team of people from The RESCUE Church on a trip to our campus in Deeside, Jamaica.

Now I’m sure what I’m about to say next will sound very minor and insignificant, but here goes…

  • I LOVE kickball! (It’s ok. You can laugh at me.  I still love playing the game of kickball and I’m not ashamed to say it out loud!)
  • I love palm trees!
  • I love to travel!

So here I was…having TRAVELED to Jamaica…surrounded by PALM TREES…playing KICKBALL with a bunch of great kids…when it dawned on me again that I truly serve a GOOD GOD who rewards those who seek after Him and loves to give us the desires of our hearts!

I think that so often we wrongly believe that if we give full surrender to the Lord that He will make us do the very things we hate the most…that following Christ will mean giving up everything we love.

But over and over again God has proven Himself to be faithful and GOOD to me as I have followed Him.  Sure, there have been times that He has led me way out of my comfort zone and I have given certain things up in order to follow His leading in my life, but what I’m learning is the more I seek Him and truly follow Him, the more my desires align with His desires…and then He gives me the desires of my heart!

So let me encourage you to seek after God with ALL of your heart today…and tomorrow…and the next day…and for the rest of this year…and next year…and the year after that…and watch what happens in your life.  You may just look up one day and realize that you’re playing kickball as palm trees blow in the breeze nearby!

If you want to watch a video recap of our most recent trip to Deeside, Jamaica check this out: