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September 18, 2023

Dear Members and Friends of Shepherd of the Hills,


We celebrated labor day yesterday.  What did we celebrate?  I’m not really sure.  However, here is what I do know.  I know that work is a gift from God.  We are called to be laborers.  God in his wisdom created us for work.  In the garden of Eden before the fall in to sin, Adam and Eve worked.  The curse that comes in chapter three is not a curse of labor, but now labor would be toilsome and difficult.  Now in our time God gives us our opportunities, experiences and talents to use in labor for the people around us.  We use our labors for our church, our family and our community.  


Saint Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to continue to work even as they wait for the Lord’s return. “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11).


This theology of labor has some day to day implications for us.


1—We don’t worship our work, but give glory to God for the ways that our labors serve others.

2—Our work never earns us favor with God, but instead is an outpouring of love and service to others because we have been loved and served by God through Jesus Christ.

3—We will never be perfect in our labor.  Our efforts and energies will never be maximized and utilized to the fullest, so we ask for forgiveness and celebrate our absolution.

4—We never stop trying to serve with our labor despite the reality that we will always fall short.

5—The people God surrounds us with need our labors.  Our church, our families and our communities need you and your unique experiences and gifts.

6—Labor is a blessing.


Consider the ways the Lord is currently blessing your labors and celebrate!  Consider the ways the Lord is calling you to labor and be open to how your labors bless others.  Labor Day is a wonderful reminder for all faithful Christians that labor is a gift and to be used fully.  I am honored to labor with you in this life here at Shepherd of the Hills and in our community.  


In His Love and Service,

Pastor Rust

August 8, 2023

Dear Friends and Members of Shepherd of the Hills,


After a long and epic journey…I’m back.  My family and I are so thankful for the opportunity to visit the historic locations of our faith.  To wander where God’s people wandered, to walk where Jesus walked and experience the cultures of such wonderful people was truly a blessed experience.  


As much as I loved adventuring with my family and with the friends we made on tour, I am so thankful to return to Ruidoso and Shepherd of the Hills.  All adventures must come to an end and it is always glorious to find the end of the adventures return us back here…home.  I continue to process all the experiences of the last 3 weeks.  I look forward to processing them with you all.  Our family will plan a time to share pictures and stories.  As your pastor I would love to share with you from the scriptures some of the insights we experienced.  In the mean time, I would like to share with you some words from Pastor Flamme, pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Roswell and co-leader of our tour.


We saw the pyramids, climbed Mt. Sinai, explored Petra, and experienced the places where God worked mightily for his people's salvation. As great as all this is, greater still is the fact that God desires to meet us through the means of his Word and Sacrament. Though the tour gave great context to the biblical story of salvation, it certainly doesn't replace the sufficiency of the Word to save our souls when we believe the promises that God gave his Son to die for us. So if you're looking for today's promised land, look no further than your own pulpit, font, and altar.


I look forward to seeing you at today’s promised land…the place where we receive Jesus in his Word and Sacrament…Shepherd of the Hills.  


In His Love and Service,

Pastor Rust

July 11, 2023

Dear Friends and Members of Shepherd of the Hills,


First off, VBS is going amazing. It is wonderful to be here and experience of the blessings of God’s Word among our kids, their families and our volunteers.  Thank you to everyone who is making this week happen.  You are all God’s gift to our Ruidoso community.


Second, Monday the 16th, Rebecca, Titus, Adeline and I will be traveling to Cairo, Jordan, Jerusalem and Galilee with 30 other LCMS Christians from around the country.  We will be gone until August 3rd.  Please pray for us and the group.  Pray for our safety and for all the learning that will happen.  I’m very excited for this opportunity and those who are making it possible for us to go.  This trip started with two pastors who desired to understand the Old Testament better through the geography of the land.  I’m very much looking forward to having some hands on experience with the land that was so intimate to the salvation story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. 


While I am gone, Pastor Steve Henze will be here filling in for me on the 23rd and 30th.  He will do the services and bible class.  If an emergency comes up please contact the church office and your elder.  If Pastor Henze is needed they will contact him.  I’m very excited you all get to spend time with him and hear the Word of God from him while I am gone.  You are in great hands.  He is a wonderful churchman and passionate about Jesus and His mission. 


I am excited to share with you all the stories that we will have when we get back and I hope that I will be an even better preacher and teacher having seen the historical sites of the Old and New Testament. 


In His Love and Service,

Pastor Rust

June 27, 2023

Dear Friends and Members of Shepherd of the Hills,


It has been a full and wonderful start to the summer here at the church.  Celebrating confirmations, gathering in fellowship, raising money, taking the kids to confirmation camp have all made this summer just fly by. 


Do not worry though, the fun isn’t over.  In just a few weeks (July 10th-14th) we will be deep into Vacation Bible School. There are a number of reasons we do vacation Bible School here at Shepherd of the Hills. First, it is an opportunity to serve the families of our church and community.  We are really good at Vacation Bible School here at SHLC. It starts with Rebecca’s leadership and the VBS team she works with to get everything going.  It continues with you all as volunteers and leaders taking the time to grow together and create that safe, fun space for kids to learn about Jesus.  It takes a small army of supporters who help provide snacks and everything else that’s necessary.  It requires prayer.  Our prayer team has been praying for this event all year asking the Lord to prepare our church to serve and to prepare the kids to receive Jesus. 


Second, we are blessed by those who choose to entrust to us their kids.  It is such an honor to be given that responsibility and to be part of their family in this way.  Those little ones bless us more than we are a blessing to them.  They fill my spirit and exude joy.  I am so thankful for each family that is a part of our community for that week.  Because of that, we take the safety of those kids very seriously.  In our training session we will refresh on how best to do that good work.


Third, the joy of the Lord and His Word are proclaimed.  This is what we do as a church.  This is our mission.  This is our task.  Lots of places will entertain kids and keep them safe this summer.  We are the place where Jesus is preached and families become connected to the this saving Word.  Some of them have a church home and know the gospel.  Some of them know the gospel but don’t have a church home. Some of them have neither.  We will share full heartedly this pure Gospel as we know it from God’s Word with all people.  We will share it in the words we speak, the songs we sing, and the respect and love shown to all who participate in VBS, kids and volunteers. 


Thank you for being part of this wonderful week.  I look forward to spending that time with you all as we are nourished by God’s Living Water. I’ll see you this Friday the 30th at 9AM as we do our training.  The number one reason kids attend VBS is because one of our congregation members invited them and their family to come.  So, be on the look out for who God is guiding you to invite. 


In His Love and Service,

Pastor Rust

June 6, 2023

Dear Friends and Members of Shepherd of the Hills,

This weekend is Confirmation weekend.  At the 10:30 Divine Service we will witness Alice Allen and Cassidy Byrd confirm their faith.  Congrats to Alice and Cassidy and their families.  After two years of faithful hard work they have studied all the books of the Bible and worked through the 6 chief parts of the Small Catechism.  They are now confirmed members of the church and I encourage you to continue to invite them into the life and leadership of the congregation along with all of our confirmed youth.  Please pray for Everett Byrd and Adeline Rust as they continue their next year of confirmation.  Please continue to pray for Gregory Stephens, Gillian Stephens, and Titus Rust who are also confirmands as we look to continue to include them in the life and leadership of the congregation. 

Confirmation weekend is a wonderful time for us to renew our commitment to the faith.  Being faithful to God’s Word is a work of the Holy Spirit. It is a work done in us and through us as we hear His Word and receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, the true body and blood of Christ, the strengthening of our faith and the forgiveness of our sins.  Come celebrate with Alice and Cassidy and their families in this wonderful milestone of faith.

Here are the questions and their answers you will hear from Alice and Cassidy this weekend.  May they also be our answers. 

Do you this day in the presence of God and of this congregation acknowledge the gifts that God gave you in your Baptism?

Yes, I do.

Do you renounce the devil?

Yes, I renounce him.

Do you renounce all his works?

Yes, I renounce them.

Do you renounce all his ways?

Yes, I renounce them.

Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?

Yes, I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord?

Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?

Yes, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Do you hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God?

I do.

Do you confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from the Scriptures, as you have learned to know it from the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true?

I do.

Do you intend to hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully?

I do, by the grace of God.

Do you intend to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word, and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death?

I do, by the grace of God.

Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?

I do, by the grace of God.

We rejoice with thankful hearts that you have been baptized and have received the teaching of the Lord. You have confessed the faith and been absolved of your sins. As you continue to hear the Lord’s Word and receive His blessed Sacrament, He who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.




In His Love and Service,

Pastor Rust


May 8, 2023

Dear Friends and Members of Shepherd of the Hills,


I am deeply enjoying our time basking in the glories of these Easter Sundays we celebrate.  Christ has risen!  Yet, I start to feel the pangs of pain the disciples must have felt as they realized this face to face resurrection joy they have with Jesus was coming to a close.


Jesus is with us, even to the very end of the age.  I believe this by faith.  Lord help my unbelief.  We approach The Ascension of Jesus.  I find two things to be simultaneously true.


One, we, like the disciples before us, are called to carry on the mission and work of Jesus Christ.  That work can feel daunting.  That work can feel fruitless.  As followers of Jesus we are to labor in the harvest field.  Some days that labor yields much and other days not so much. We labor to be the people of faith and love we are called to be, yet struggle with the capacity for the kind of unconditional love our faith demands.  We start each morning in the hope and blessings of Jesus and we finish each evening under his gracious forgiveness and blessed rest.  


Two, we, like the disciples before us, have Jesus’ very real presence with us at all times.   Jesus promises that the comforter, the Holy Spirit, will be with us.  He commits his presence in a special way when two or more are gathered.  His real presence is there in the Words of Institution, “take eat, this is my body…take drink, this is my blood.”  


During the end of this Easter season and the start of this Pentecost season, my we hold both realities to be true.  May we hold dear to the hope we have in the presence of Jesus in the midst of the work we are called into for the sake of Jesus.  


Plan on joining me Thursday, May 18th at 5PM for our Ascension Day service and picnic.  I look forward to celebrating the hope we have in Jesus together.  


In His Love and Service,

Pastor Rust




Our congregations in the Rocky Mountian District have elected to participate in the Save the Seminary fundraising campaign.  The seminary we are saving is in Siberia Russia.  Please consider giving a special offering for the Russian Seminary before Pentecost on May 28th.  If you would like to know more, please visit this web site to explore and read: Save the Seminary RMD LCMS

April 18, 2023

Dear Friends and Members of Shepherd of the Hills,


Blessed Easter season to you all.  This weekend we follow Jesus as he encounters the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They are on a journey in so many ways.  They literally are walking along the road, but now because Jesus journeys with them, their eyes will be open to so much more.  Their journey now becomes one of faith.  Their journey now becomes one of following Jesus through his life, suffering, death, resurrection, and glory.  


St. Peter in his first letter shares with the saints,

 If you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (1 Peter 1:17-23)


He reminds them that they are journeying.  This is their time of exile, or wilderness wandering.  While on this journey, he implores them to take confidence in God because he raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory.  


What does your journey look like right now?  Join me this Sunday as we talk about our journey, because some days our confidence in the Lord is all we have. 


In His Love and Service,

Pastor Rust