Thursday, December 12, 2019

Are you embracing God's gifts?


What are you feeling in this season of Advent?

Are you experiencing joy?
Do you feel sense of loss?
Are you overwhelmed?
Feeling Anxious?
Ambivalent?
Hopeful?

There are all kinds of emotions that can fill this season.  Personally, I know I don’t always take time to consider what I am feeling.  I just move from one moment to the next.  I go to church, I worry about shopping, I try to put the kids to bed, and on the story goes. 

One thing that makes the story of Mary and Joseph unique is their ability to contemplate God’s presence in their lives.  Mary particularly didn’t just let life happen to her.  The Bible says she took time to ponder each moment in her heart.  Her world was filled with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, and she took time to experience these things… I believe God is still present in our world, but we don’t always take the time to notice.

A couple weeks ago, I came down with a case of laryngitis.   My voice is a pretty important part of my job, so it was frustrating situation.  I found myself wishing things were different.  Instead of the blessings, I focused on my limitations. 

It took me a while, but I realized that some things are beyond my control.  I can dwell on the negative, or I can live by faith in what God is doing.  I am blessed to have two little boys.  These guys are always a handful, but they can show me what it’s like to live in the moment.  They value me whether I am talking or not.  Life is a gift… I’m glad I can be present to cherish it.

Today I hope we can all open our hearts to God’s Love.  I hope we can all take the time to ponder the good news that God is with us.  May you all believe that you are loved and surrounded by grace!

Blessings!


Brian Ward

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Faith for the journey


What does faith look like in your life? 
 
I have a one year old child who has a wild amount of faith.  This little boy isn’t afraid to take off up the stairs, go around corners, or chase after bugs.  My wife and I kind of got used to our older child who did not wander away so easily.  However, if we take our eyes off of the little guy for a second, he will disappear on us!  Nevertheless, he does have limits.  He will give high fives to strangers, but eventually he will start looking for his family.  If he doesn’t see somebody he knows right away, he will start to lose it.  All his confidence disappears, and he becomes pretty inconsolable.

Ready to take a leap of faith
I think every human being is in a different place in their faith walk with God.  There are times we are confident, and there are other times we are pretty inconsolable.  I have seen people who were unafraid in the face of death, and I have seen other people are just trying to find enough faith to get through the day.  We are all different, and we all have a different story. 

Today, I wonder where you are at in your faith journey.  Are you confidently moving forward?  Do you believe that God is with you?  Or are you in a place of uncertainty?  There are times we all need a reset and fall back into the arms of love.  Today I hope you can open your heart to love.  I hope God’s love can give you a little bit of faith to take the next step forward in your life!

Blessings!


Pastor Brian

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Take time to love


Earlier this morning I dropped my wife off at the airport.  She was heading to Colorado to celebrate her mother’s 70th birthday.  I am so thankful that she has the opportunity to be there!  Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the trip together.  Kira took the baby with her, and I stayed home with our oldest son.  As amazing as it would be for all of us to celebrate together, this trip allows Kira to be present with her mom.  They were able to make a little space to just be mother and daughter.  They can shop, laugh, and chase the baby around… J

I also have an opportunity to spend some time with my oldest son.  This might seem strange, because I get to see this little guy every day.  However, when my wife is out of town, I become the person who goes grocery shopping with him.  I take him to the park.  I cook him dinner.  Normally, Kira winds up doing a ton of these activities while I am at work or running other errands.  It is kind of nice to spend some one on one time with him.  I am always surprised how much fun I have when we work on art projects together, wrestle like crazy people, or listening to baby shark on repeat!

In the month of November, we celebrate the season of Thanksgiving.  Today, I am so thankful for all my family, friends, and relatives.  I am grateful for my church and the people who have surrounded me with love.  I hope you can all spend a little extra time today cherishing the people around you.  I hope you can all find a little extra space to really open your heart to the people you love.

Blessings!!


Pastor Brian

This is a pic from a couple weeks ago on Halloween. 
Cherishing the people I love! :) 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Reformation!


This is an exciting time for ministry at Community Lutheran Church.  There are so many wonderful things happening with the arrival of our new Senior Pastor, Ben Bergren.  In the meantime, there has been plenty of other activity going on.  We have said hello and goodbye to our Transition Senior Pastor, Tom Anderson.  Personally, I have officiated nine different funerals and three weddings in the last two months.  There have been a number of hospital visits, appointments, and meetings.  Then to top it all off my two little boys got sick last week, just as my parents arrived from Minnesota…

Life goes by at a blur!  If we aren’t careful, we can miss out on some really sacred moments.  I have heard that we need five positive or affirming complements to counter just one negative comment.  Human beings are just wired to listen to the bad and doubt the good.  I know this can be true for me.  I will focus in on one little moment where I feel like I failed or neglected to help someone.  However, the past few days have been fairly encouraging for me.  My parents still wanted to visit, and they were an IMMENSE help with the sick kids!  (I just hope they don’t get sick in the days to come!!!)  I also received several very gracious letters from people who I helped over the last few weeks.  These small moments reminded me that God’s Spirit is always working!

This week we are celebrating the Reformation of the church.  The Reformation is the good news that God’s Spirit is always working for good in this world.  Sometimes we can get lost in the dark valleys, but there are always new options and new opportunities to move forward.  This week we are celebrating the Holy Spirit’s work in your life.  I hope you can believe that God is creating something good within you!!

Blessings!


Brian

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Pray with hope


What does prayer mean to you?

Personally, I believe in the power of prayer.  I pray every day for healing, love, and forgiveness in our world.  However, my prayers aren’t always so noble…  At times, I have prayed for good grades, to find my keys, and for God to stop my roommate’s snoring… If there is a desire on my heart, I often bring it to God. J

Image result for pray
Over the years, I have seen God do some amazing things, big and small.  People have been healed and lives have been changed.  There are also plenty of times diseases don’t go away, people refuse to change, and roommates keep snoring!

In Luke 18, Jesus tells us of the power of prayer.  Prayer has an ability to change our lives in unexpected ways.  When I pray, I know that I may not get the answer that I am looking for.  In fact, there are weeks where it feels like nothing is going right… However, prayer has played a deeper role in my life.  Prayer allows me to listen.  Prayer helps me to open my heart and experience miracles that I wasn’t looking for originally.  Prayer allows me to live in this world with hope.  As you experience the ups and the downs of life, I hope that you can listen for God’s love through prayer.  May prayer kindle hope in your heart, and may your experience of God give you a deeper understanding of grace.

Blessings,


PB

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Faith


The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Luke 17:5

Have you ever asked for more faith?

Just last week, I found myself overwhelmed with a number of little things.  Personally, I don’t mind interruptions to my schedule if they mean I can help somebody.  However, I really dislike all the interruptions that prevent me from doing work or seeing people.  Last week I got stuck in several situations that had no good solution, but they took a LOT of time... In the end, I know I really do not have anything to complain about.  There are so many people who are dealing with so more than me.  However, even the smallest worries can be destructive if we allow it into our hearts.

Today Christ tells us to have faith.  Jesus says that even faith the size of a mustard seed can lead us out of the darkness.  When I reflect on this, I am reminded of how easy it is for the problems of this world to consume me.  Christ reminds me that love is greater than all fear.  There is no height or depth that can keep us from the love of Christ.  Today I hope we can all make a little room in our hearts for faith.  God has incredible love for us all.  Let’s let go of our fear, and let’s allow love to set us free.

Blessings!


PB

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Opening our eyes...


Are there people in your life who you are ignoring?

Are there people you want nothing to do with?

Are there people you can’t forgive?

Sometimes as I am driving around with my four year old son, I will hear him shout out, “Dad!  They need a bag!!”  He is referring to the Matthew Kits we have in our car.  These kits offer supplies to people who are experiencing homelessness.  My son always has his eyes open to look for people who might be in need, and he can’t wait to offer a little bit of love to the world.

Image result for open the eyes of my heartThere are days I can become callused to the needs of others around me.  It is easy to see the imperfections.  It is easy to think of reasons why I can’t help.  However, our scripture passage this week calls us to look at the world with love.  We are not called to fix every problem.  We are not called to heal every wound.  However, we can see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.  We can allow God’s Spirit to flow through us when we offer a genuine smile to our neighbor.

This week I hope I can be a little bit more like my son.  I want to look out at the world and open my eyes to love.  I hope and pray we can all live with this kind of faith…

Blessings!


Pastor Brian