Thursday, July 9, 2020

Where is love leading you?


Love is an amazing thing…

Love can give us hope in the darkest moments.  Love gives us joy that surpasses all understanding.  Love is also present in our tears.  When we lose someone we care about, love is there.  When our preschooler heads off to kindergarten, love is there… (Now if school is canceled because of Covid-19, I might become a little less sentimental about getting my preschooler out of the house. However, love does have incredible power! :)

Love allows us to experience empathy, and this is an incredible thing.  Empathy allows us to love our neighbor in real ways, but this is not always easy.  The same compassion that gives us joy also leads us into the hurts and sorrows of others. 

In the Gospel of John 11:35-36, the Bible says Jesus grieved with his followers when someone he loved died:

Jesus wept.
Then the people said, “See how he loved him!”

I have always felt that this was a powerful verse…  It shows how deeply Jesus loved his followers, and it shows how deeply He loves us. Christ’s love is not just some academic or theoretical thing.  Jesus loves us in a meaningful way.  There is no failure, fear, or disappointment that can separate us from God.

Today I hope you can all take a bit of time to trust the love God has given you.  May you recognize that you are loved just as you are.  May you also take time to let love break into your hearts.  Let’s stop the judgment and open our hearts to something much bigger!

Blessings!


Brian

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Do not fear


Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.
-Jesus in Matthew 14:27

When was the last time you were afraid? Do you believe that Christ walks with you in the darkest valleys?

There have been times I have let fear get the best of me. In high school, I could worry about some pretty mild things:  Did I have enough friends? Could I run fast enough? Was I getting the best grades? These can be interesting questions, but some of these little things can consume us if we allow them to. If we aren’t careful some of these mild fears can destroy us. Rational fear is one thing. This kind of fear can push us into action. Irrational fear can leave us feeling sick, and it can pull us away from the people we need to move toward.  

In the Bible, we are told over and over again not to be afraid.  Jesus repeatedly warned his followers not to let fear rule their hearts, but over and over again the disciples succumbed to the powers of fear, anxiety, and desperation…

Over the last five years, my wife and I have noticed that it has become much easier to build friendships in our neighborhood.  Now this is not because we are trying harder.  In fact when we first arrived we would do everything we could to meet our neighbors, but everyone seemed so busy. In general, there seems to be a fear of people we don’t know.  However, since we had our two kids, we’ve somehow managed to meet everyone. The kids love meeting other children and adults, and the neighbors seem to love meeting us – even as crazy as we are… As far as time goes, we have actually been much busier, but we have found more time for what really matters. It certainly doesn’t make sense to fear each other.  I am so grateful for the other people in my neighborhood. I am thankful that my kids love getting to know the people around them.

Today I hope you can all think about the fear in your life.  I hope you can take the time to understand your fear.  Perhaps you need to use it rationally, but I hope you can also let go of the irrational and move forward into this beautiful world God has created!

Blessings!


Pastor Brian

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Have Faith in Love


Yesterday Pastor Ben shared a poem in the 3pm online gathering time.  It was titled:

Anyway

Gift Ideas for Him or Her Mother Teresa Do it Anyway | Etsy

It struck me how easy it is to find reasons not to give your very best. 

Other people could do a better job.
No one will pay attention to me.
People may not like me.
I may be rejected.
I may be hated.
I may fail.

I can always find reasons to give a subpar effort.  However, we are in a sermon series where we are taking a look at the miracles of Jesus.  Jesus went out of his way to stand up for justice.  Heal people in their time of need and rescue the oppressed.  Even when he was criticized for his work, he kept fighting for love.  When his friends left him, he chose to love them anyway. 

Today as I look at all the fear, animosity, and chaos in our society, I believe Jesus is calling us into action.  How is God calling you?  I serve as a pastor, but we all have a calling.  When I go home, I am also a husband and father, and I feel pretty ineffective at times! The kids are totally out of control when I’m watching, and I’m still scrambling to figure out what I need to do to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary.  (Our anniversary is on June 12th. Is that coming up soon? :) 

Even though I am not perfect, my family needs the love I have to offer.  I want to be the person who will stop and be present fully with the people around me.  I want to cherish these moments.  I want to take time to celebrate and give thanks with love.  Today I hope you can all find every excuse to give the love you have!

Blessings!

Brian

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Pentecost


Happy Pentecost everybody!!!

This is a very special week in our church. We are celebrating the day of Pentecost. It may not be the most well-known festival we have, but it is essential to the work of the church today. Pentecost is the celebration that honors the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the day where we boldly declare that God has not left us alone.  The Spirit continues to live and move in among us.


Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
1 Corinthians 3:16

Pentecost - www.familypriest.com

Have you ever had moments where you felt truly alive? Perhaps you felt a fire burning within you. Maybe you felt called by God to start a new job, move across the country, or let go of a traumatic history… The promise of Pentecost states that God is always reaching into our world to bring hope and guidance.

This past week I was reminded of a girl from a youth group I led several years ago. This girl had faced a number of trials. She had lived through gang violence. She never had much food, and she had just been diagnosed with cancer… All of this happened before she turned 18! Sometimes life is not fair! However, she also had this incredible spirit of grace. She cared about people. She asked incredibly thoughtful questions, and she was always at the church ready to serve. When it was time for me to leave that community, I felt incredibly blessed to have known her. The Holy Spirit was working through her, and she had an incredible impact on my life.

I feel this story is important, because it reminds me that God is working in each and every one of us. It is not all about me or my own personal calling. God is working in the church as a whole, and sometimes the people who seem the most insignificant are actually the most valuable! The church needs each and every one of you, even if you don't feel very noteworthy.  You are loved and God is working in the midst of us all!

Blessings!


Brian

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Asking the Big Questions...


“Who are you, Lord?”
-Acts 9:5

When was the last time you asked any of the really big questions of God?  Some of you may be living in a pretty dark season of life, but has there ever been a time you had to totally reframe your understanding of faith?

This week we are taking a look at the Apostle Paul. In his early years, Paul thought he understood God. He believed he was right, and he assumed anyone who challenged him was wrong. He was ready to judge others, and he wanted to prove his own worthiness. However, God changed his heart. Paul experienced an act of grace, and that transformed his entire way of life.

So where are you at today? Do you believe you have all the answers, or are you filled with questions?

The Bible certainly states that questions are important. Personally, I have been struck by the inquisitiveness of my five year old. Every night before he goes to bed, he wants to talk about some really big mysteries… What are black holes? What are the other planets like? What kinds of animals lived before the dinosaurs? Who is God? The list just keeps going. Now, I am aware that he is trying to delay bedtime a little bit. However, he has a genuine curiosity about the world, and it has even sparked my own desire to learn more. He has a truly open heart that is ready to learn… as long as it means I will let him stay up a little bit later… :)

I am often reminded that without challenges, we do not grow.  There is no desire to open our hearts to new understandings of God. Like the apostle Paul, it is easy to believe we are already perfect. However, it is my hope that we can all be renewed in our minds. May we experience a childlike faith that brings hope to all people!

Blessings!


Pastor Brian

Thursday, April 30, 2020

When trials turn to hope...


How much has your life changed in the last few months?
Do you trust that God is with you?

This week in worship we are taking a look at the story of two disciples who wound up in prison.  Jesus had just commissioned them to go out and share the Good News, and they wanted to preach, heal, and love. However, everything flips upside down when they are thrown into a jail cell.

What do you do when life turns against you?

What do you want
to eat today buddy?
Personally, I don’t feel like I have any right to complain about difficulties.  I am blessed with my place at the church, and I am blessed with my family and friends.  However, I can still become overwhelmed.  Recently my kids have thrown all-out tantrums because I won’t let them crawl into the dishwasher or eat the mud on their shoes. It’s hard! However, an interesting thing will happen when I take time to reflect on these moments a few days later.  If I have the opportunity, I will look back at a picture or think of a crazy time, and I can’t help but to smile. If I stop to take a breath and experience the love, I am able to experience the joy.  In the Bible there are numerous stories of people who realized God was always with them, but they never realized it until long after the trial passed.
 
Today I hope you can take a bit of time and look backward.  Take time to forgive yourself if you lost your temper… We all get lost in the moment!  However, I hope we can open our hearts.  May we all believe that God is always with us!

Blessings!


Pastor Brian

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Do you believe in the promise of Easter?



He is risen! | Jesus is alive, Bible, Matthew 28Happy Easter!  Christ is Risen!

Easter is a time of celebration.  However, we are also trying to get used to this new season of quarantine.  I know I am having some difficulty finding a bit of hope in the midst of all this. 

As a family, my household has been trying to find activities that we all like to do together.  It’s hard!  One person wants to climb a mountain, another wants to go for a walk, and then the kids want to either roll around in the mud or scream as loud as they can.  We just can’t agree on one thing!

However, every once in a while we can all agree on watching nature programming on TV.  (I guess that tells you we are all a bunch of nerds!) We get drawn into these wild places, and we love to watch the unfolding stories of snow leopards, grizzly bears, or elephants.

Remdesivir demonstrates success against MERS in rhesus macaques
Who wouldn't love this little
monkey?
I saw a bit of an episode recently showed a clip of a Rhesus macaque.  (It’s basically just a little monkey.) The narrator stated these animals are aggressive and xenophobic primates.  Their social status is determined by who they were born to.  Then they are either treated as royalty, or they are isolated, rejected, and preyed upon.  All of this was known at birth.  Honestly, my whole family was a little upset watching a few of these poor little guys getting picked on.  They were just born to a mother of low social standing.  It also made me think that people are not always that different.  Sadly human beings can be just as brutal to one another, and if we don’t take time to open our hearts a little bit, I think we can revert back to this awful behavior. 

LD 2560x1600, Grace Richard archive | Lake in the mountains
All creation longs for grace!
I believe the Earth longs for grace.  There are moments when grace creeps into our world and offers an explosion of hope.  There are little moments when people choose to work together.  There are moments of love in spite of desperate circumstances.  The animal kingdom will do this too.  One animal can choose to love another.  The Bible says all creation is longing for redemption.  The whole world is searching for grace.

Today we are living in uncertain times.  Are we going to give in to evil and self-serving behaviors?  Is it possible to allow grace to move us forward?  When life is flipped upside down, do you still believe in love’s power?  Do you believe in Easter?

I hope and pray that all of you will open your hearts to find a bit of grace today.  I hope you all know that you are loved, and I pray that you will find love.

Blessings!


Pastor Brian