Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Stop... Listen... Look

 This week at Community Lutheran we are continuing our sermon series entitled KCLC Radio, and this week we are featuring the 1967 hit by Buffalo Springfield:  For What It's Worth.  Personally, I feel like this song is very recognizable, or at least the chorus is:

I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down 

It is a pretty catchy tune, but the words are also filled with some very valuable lessons that show up in the Bible:  Stop… Listen… Look…  Jesus even tells us not to rush to conclusions.  Are there times in your life that you need to allow a little space for the Holy Spirit to move?

Jesus said to the disciples and us, “But when the Spirit of truth, comes,
it will guide you into all truth. It will not speak on its own; but will speak only what it
hears, and it will tell you what is yet to come. 

I know I find myself rushing from one thing to another every day.  No matter how early I wake up, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for everything.  Every morning I try to start my day with a workout.   Next, I make breakfast and feed the kids.  Then I try to help get the kids dressed, brush their hair, and feed them their second breakfast.  After that, we have to change their outfits because they got dirty, search for their missing shoes, brush their teeth, and by this time they are hungry again.  Life can move pretty fast, and regardless of how your life may look, it is important to stop and breathe.  The Holy Spirit is working in our lives, but we do have to take a moment and experience it.

I am blessed in countless ways every day.  I can see amazing acts of kindness, love, and mercy, but I need to slow down a bit to really cherish it.

Today I hope you can all allow the Holy Spirit to move in your lives.  I hope you feel the presence of God, and I hope you can all share a bit of God’s love today!

Blessings!

 

Brian Ward

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Believe in Love

 

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
 For I am the Lord your God,
-Isaiah 43

I have a lot of love for these verses from Isaiah 43.  Whenever I hear it, I am drawn back to my days as a summer camp counselor in the mountains of Colorado.  We used to sing a worship song that was based on this scripture, and even today it reminds me of the sweeping mountain views, the star filled nights, and all the wonderful relationships that were formed that summer.

Today, I am still drawn to these verses in times of suffering or when people have lost hope.  I believe in a God who came to this earth to love – not to condemn.  We have a God who promised never to abandon us in spite of the trials we may face or the road blocks we build for ourselves.  We are loved, and I believe that God is constantly trying to help us to understand this message.


When I was a camp counselor, I felt like there was something powerful binding all of us together.  We were all different, but we believed in each other.  The Holy Spirit’s work was real and available for every one of us.  Today, in a season of quarantine and national division, hope seems much further away.  However, I believe God’s Word still stands.  I believe God is still coming to this world with love and hope.  God has not chosen to abandon us.  So what if we started to open our eyes to the real presence of God. 

Today I hope we can let go of the evil that divides us from our neighbors.  Perhaps we can look inward and deal with our own hurts and pains to discover a deeper truth about ourselves.  I hope we can all find a way to hear God’s Word and be witnesses to hope.  Let’s stand for unity, grace, and forgiveness. 

 

Blessings,

 

 

Brian Ward

Thursday, September 17, 2020

From Broken to Hopeful

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

-Matthew 6:25-27

Today we have fires in the west, hurricanes in the south, and the corona virus is raging all around us… This year seems to be full of things to worry about, and I have spent a lot of time speaking with people whose lives have been flipped upside down.  There are people who are sick and isolated.  Others have recently lost their jobs and homes because of the recession.  Parents are struggling to balance their work with child care.  Finally far too many people are searching for meaning in what seems like an endless void.  Life is not easy, and the pressure can be immense!

This week at Community Lutheran, we are taking time to find ways to relieve the anxious pressure of the world.  Instead of losing ourselves in the endless cycle of fear, God has come to give us hope. 

As we look at our world today, it is easy to find reasons to despair.  However, I believe God always works in moments of vulnerability.  A colleague of mine once reminded me not to fear the rock bottom moments of life.  Instead, he told me to think of these times as a gift.  These moments of vulnerability can open us to new perspectives and opportunities.

Today I hope we can all open our hearts to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.  I pray that God’s grace would bring meaning to our lives, and I pray that God’s love would lead us to a new path of hope.

Blessings!

 

Brian Ward

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Spiritual Fruit of Self-Control

 FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Self-Control | Life-Giving Water

 Earlier this week, I woke up in the middle of the night to hear my two year old son calling out.  He doesn’t have an extensive vocabulary, but I thought I could hear him saying, “Stuck! Stuck!” When I entered his room, I found him in a tangled up blanket with his head on his pillow, but his feet were falling off the bed. I put him in a more comfortable position, and he simply said, “Thank you Dada.” Then he immediately fell back to sleep.

 

This experience made me smile, because I was able to help in a real way.  My child was “stuck,” and I could make everything better.  I love the moments when I have the ability to change things or control my environment.  However, I realize there will be a day when it will not be as easy to fix my son’s problems.  As I look out at the world, I would love it if I could just fix the pain that I see.  However, it is not always that easy.

This week in worship we are looking at the spiritual gift of Self-Control.  There are so many problems that may seem overwhelming, but the Bible reminds us to start with our own hearts.  We do not always have the ability to control or help others, but we can control our own actions.  We are God’s children, and we can decide to let love into our hearts and share it with others. 

 

Blessings,

 

 

Pastor Brian

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Spiritual Gift of Goodness

God has called all of us good.  The church is supposed to be a light in the darkness, and we are called to share this light with the world.  However, some days it can be pretty hard to see the good in our lives. The news is filled with awful stories ranging from the corona virus to political divisions to acts of bigotry and hatred. Sometimes the Good News that brings hope to all people can seem rather hidden.  So where is God’s goodness?

God has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
-Micah 6:8
 

Finding good in the world doesn’t have to be left up to those who believe in fairy tales. God is asking us to believe that the goodness of all creation is present all around us.  These words from Micah 6 were written after a foreign army stormed through Israel destroying much of the land. The nation was in an incredible state of turmoil, and there was every reason for the people to see hatred and division in the world around them.  However, the prophet was reminding people of the simple gifts they had to show love.

Living in the Goodness of God - May 6 - New Horizons

Today there are a number of reasons we can complain or dismiss the needs of others, but God is also leading us to a different path. This week, in spite of some of the bad news out there, I also got to see my two little boys playing and laughing together. The two year old loves to chase after his big brother. He runs wherever his brother runs and climbs whatever his brother climbs. Now, this never lasts too long. Either one boy gets annoyed or somebody gets hurt, but these two kids are also filled with love. They care for each other. We are all part of a family. None of us are perfect, but God is with us. There is good in the world, and I believe we all have a chance to see this every day.

In the Bible, God calls each of us good. Today I hope that you can all seek to discover the good in your lives. I hope you can all find a bit of love and a bit of hope wherever you are!

Blessings!


Brian

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Patience and God's Blessings

Do you have the Spiritual Gift of Patience? 

I have heard it said that a person should never pray for patience, because God will give you the opportunity to use it.  :)

The truth is, whether we pray for patience or not, we all need it in our lives. We spend a lot of time waiting, and this can either drive us crazy or it can open us to God’s work. I hate waiting, and I really don’t know anyone who likes just standing around. However, there is a Bible verse that I would like to share that comes from the book of James:

 

See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the early and late rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another…

-James 5:7-9

  

In this analogy, the farmer knows he or she can’t rush things… We have some amazing technology in agriculture today, but there is still a need for faith. The farmer can plant, tend, and harvest the crops, but there has always been a certain element they cannot control. A crop will not grow overnight, and we cannot force the weather to obey us.

Today we have a ton of technology and power at our disposal. However, we still cannot force a virus to obey us. We cannot make other people obey us. We still need to live by faith each and every day. I think we really have to ask ourselves if we want to spend our time worrying about all the things we cannot control.

Personally, I also love how these verses from the book of James tell us not to grumble against one another. Waiting can easily turn into grumbling, frustration, and resentment toward others.

Today I hope we can take a little time to be present in the moment that we are in. Sure, there are lots of wonderful things to look forward to. I am excited to gather with others in person. I can’t wait for my kids to reach their next milestones as they grow up. (I really look forward to the day when I won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night!) However, the Bible tells us that each day is a blessing. Let’s not wish this day and the blessings we have right now away. Let’s live each day by faith trusting that God walks alongside us in our journey.


Blessings!

 

Pastor Brian

25 Bible Verses about Patience - DailyVerses.net


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Let Joy into your Heart


What does joy mean to you?

A few weeks ago my family had an opportunity to drive up to Mount Charleston.  It was a hot day in the valley, and it was so refreshing to take the kids somewhere that wasn’t 110 degrees! 
 
We had a super fun trip playing in a little stream and wandering through the forest. One of the most memorable moments came soon after we arrived.  We got out of the car, and our one year old son just started saying, “Wow!” He doesn’t know very many words, but at that moment he just wanted to express the wonder and awe he felt in his heart!

As we grow older, I know there are times we push our feelings down.  Nothing surprises us.  We can find ourselves living through another hot day wishing we were somewhere else.  We complain. We get frustrated, and we do it all again tomorrow.  However, this week we are talking about joy.  Joy can break into our lives at any moment.  We don’t need to wait for Christmas, Easter, or whenever this pandemic ends.  Joy is present all around us if we open our hearts to God’s Grace. 

Today I hope you can feel the wonder and awe of the moment.  Sure, it is easy to find things to complain about.  That list is never ending… However, God promises that Joy is present.  Have you taken time to say thank you?  Perhaps you can step back and just say, “Wow!”

Blessings!


Brian