Thursday, November 19, 2020

Christ the King

This week has been a whirlwind.  My wife started a new job, my kindergartner started several new projects for school, and my two year old… well he was busy just being a two year old.  To top all of this off, the whole house was exposed to Covid-19 so we had to do all of this while quarantined in our house.  


I can obviously think of a lot of things to complain about, but we are in the midst of a sermon series at CLC all about being thankful.  There will always be challenges in this world… Jesus knew this, and he told his followers this would be the case.  However, Jesus also prayed that his people would come together to face the trials of the world alongside one another.


Today we live in a time of physical separation, but we are still a church.  We are still united through the body of Christ, and this weekend we are celebrating the glory of Christ the King.  This is also the last week of the church calendar year.  The cycle starts over next week as we begin the season of Advent.  




As I reflect on this past year, I am reminded of so many times when the trials got the better of us.  Instead of working together, we pushed each other apart.  However, this week we remember that Jesus is King.  God is in charge, and my hope is that we would all open our hearts to the love Christ offers.  Let’s look for ways to see the glory of Christ in the world around us.  Let us find hope in the world!


Blessings!


Brian


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Living with Gratitude

 Are you living with a spirit of Thanksgiving?

 There is a lot going on in the world today… elections, corona virus, economic uncertainty… It is easy to get distracted by all of it.  In my family we have also been dealing with the fallout of the time change.  I know there must be somebody out there who looks forward to flipping the clocks an hour back or an hour forward, but I am not one of these people.  Even in the fall, when we should gain an extra hour, I feel like I still lose.  Instead of sleeping in, my kids just wake up an hour earlier! (It’s a cruel twist of fate to always lose an hour!) However, earlier this week, when I was trying to get my two year old to go back to sleep for a few more minutes, he looked right at me and said, “I love you daddy… Let’s go eat.” I guess it struck me in that moment that there will always be things I can complain about, but I should probably be thankful!


 This week, Community Lutheran is continuing a sermon series all about gratitude and thanksgiving.  We are asking what is on your heart.  Are you upset? Afraid of an uncertain future? Excited? Angry?  Emotions are a gift, and I believe it is good to embrace them and understand them.  However, I do not believe we should spend our lives being ruled by our emotions.  At the heart of everything is the all-powerful love of God.  This is a love that we can always embrace, and we can also share. 

 Blessings!

 

Pastor Brian

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Reform in the Church

 Happy Reformation everyone!  This weekend we are celebrating the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.  Five Hundred years ago a German monk named Martin Luther opened his heart to the Spirit.  The church at that time did not sing together with hymns.  It did not preach in the language of the people.  Communion was not shared freely with the everyday person.  Luther trusted God, and he believed the church could be so much more. 

 Today it is easy to feel that the church is confined.  Personally, the corona virus has left me feeling like my hands are tied in so many different ways.  I want the church to be something more.  However, Reformation is a day where we remember that the church always goes through difficult times.  In the Bible, the people of Israel had times of victory, and they had many moments when everything fell apart.  Their temple was destroyed.  The people lost their homeland.  Everything seemed hopeless.  However, the story is one of hope.  The Holy Spirit continued to work, in spite of chaos all around.

 

 In the past year, the world has changed so much, but God is still in charge.  I have spoken to people who have become involved in our church in new ways.  I have seen the church reach an unprecedented number of people.   I have been able to share some incredible moments with my own family.  God is still here, but we will always need our hearts to be open to the Spirit’s work in these changing times. 

 Today I hope you will let your hearts be opened.  I hope you will experience what new life means.  God is working in you.  Let’s celebrate this good news.

 Peace,

 

Brian Ward

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