Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Do you have hope?

It is not hard to see the divisions that exist in our world today.  Our nation is divided… Our world is divided, and it is painful for me to see so much hatred and animosity.  However, last week I was reflecting on Pearl Harbor Day.  If we think things are bad today, we have to remember that seventy six years ago the world seemed to be torn apart.  No one knew what was going to happen or if things would ever be put back together.  It is amazing the people of that generation decided to take the steps needed to restore unity.   They believed they could make a better world with hope.


We live in a world of uncertainty, and that can be pretty terrifying.  However, people have faced incredible evils in the past and they have found ways to believe in hope.  That is also exactly what the Bible teaches this Christmas season.  Even when we have found ourselves in a land of deep darkness, we can believe in light.  Jesus brings good news for all people.  When Jesus came to this world, God’s people were totally lost, but Jesus came to show them what grace was all about.  Today, I pray we could open our eyes to God’s Love.  May we live a life filled with Hope!

Peace!

Brian

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The waiting of Advent

When I was a child, my family had this Advent and Christmas calendar.  Every day through the month of December we could open a window and look at a scripture passage for the day.  We also took time each week to lite candles on our Advent wreath.  As a child, I loved these traditions!  They were pretty simple, but they meant so much to me. 

Today I feel like the months fly by so much faster than they used to.  It used to feel like Christmas would never arrive.  Today, I feel like I’m lucky if the Christmas tree goes up before the 25th.  There is just so much going on.  However, I hope we can all take a breath today.  Advent is a season of preparing our hearts.  The Bible promises that God is coming to this world, not just 2000 year ago, but every day of our lives.  If we don’t take time to prepare ourselves, we may be too busy to notice the smile of a friend, the help of a stranger, or of a humble baby being born…  Today, I hope we can each take a little time to notice God’s presence.  I hope we can start up an old tradition that we may have lost sight of.  I hope we can believe that God is always breaking into this world to show us Love!

Blessings!


PB   

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Being thankful...

Last week, my family traveled to New Mexico to celebrate Thanksgiving with some relatives there.  It was a wonderful opportunity to see some new places and enjoy time with those we love.  I love these kinds of trips, but I have to admit that prior to leaving I was feeling some apprehension.  This would be the longest drive we had ever done with the kids, and our last big trip had not been easy.  Imagine a car ride with a screaming child for hours on end.  He wouldn’t nap, and he seemed to be pooping every 30 minutes… That was an exhausting way to start our summer trip. 

However, we decided we wanted to try again. (Or maybe we had just forgotten some of the difficulties of the last trip!) There were concerns, but we also had family members telling us:  Just go for it!  In the end, I think that is what life is all about.  There are times we could let the problems of the world overwhelm us, or we can trust that a greater love is waiting for us on the other side.  Our car ride wound up going amazingly well, and we had a blast with the people we love.  It turned out to be a blessing to share this trip with kids, and I love giving them the opportunity to see other people and other parts of the world.  As we got ready to leave, we asked our little boy what he was thankful for, and it was a delight to have him list off every family member he could.  It was a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I know I’m blessed to have such wonderful people around me.

 Blessings!


Brian  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thankfulness...

Last week we celebrated Veteran’s Day.  As a church, we took time to honor all those who fought for our freedoms, and I was able to spend some time thanking a few of the veterans in my life.  Several years ago I worked as a Chaplin at a VA hospital in Minnesota.  My job entailed meeting with veterans and their families and offering any services I could.  I will always value my time there.  I learned so much, and some of men and women expressed how important it was for them to be able to share their story with me…

Today, in our scripture passage, the Apostle Paul will write of the importance valuing other people.  Taking time to tell people that they are valued and their gifts are needed is important.  Paul writes that we are to live our lives with a spirit of thanksgiving.  Today we sit right in between Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.  I hope we can spend this time, as well as the rest of our lives, living with this spirit of thankfulness inside of us!

Blessings!


Brian 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

αποκαταλλασσο - Reconciling all things!

This week has been difficult.  I don’t want get into all the details here, but there have been a number of things that just didn’t go right.  However, today we are looking at a powerful scripture passage:

Through Christ God, was pleased to reconcile all things to God’s own self, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
-Colossians 1:20

The words “reconcile all things” comes from a very complex Greek word:  αποκαταλλασσο.  In English we pronounce it:  ap-ok-at-al-las'-so.  It looks like a pretty big word, but I think its meaning is even bigger.  It refers to bringing all things, the good and the bad, together in Christ.  God seeks to take what is evil and reconcile it into something new.  This word doesn’t deny that evil exists, because it most certainly does!  However, this verse does say that evil can be changed through Christ.  Two thousand years ago, this would have meant that God was making something new out of the corrupt Roman Empire, oppression within the church, and even death itself.  Those ancient people could have hope that God was working within them… I think we can have the same hope today.

When life is a mess, and we don’t have the answers, God is reconciling all these things to bring wholeness and peace.  There is always a way to move forward.  There is always a way to grow.  Evil does exist, but new life is even more powerful than the chaos that we see!

Blessings!


Brian

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All Saints Day

We just finished an amazing week in our congregation.  We had an incredible service celebrating the Lutheran Reformation, and we invited over 1200 people to the church for our Trunk or Treat event.  We are also looking forward to Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas.  It is a wonderful and busy time of year!  However, this week we are taking a step back from our busy schedule to remember all the people who have died.  We take time to grieve their loss, celebrate their lives, and remember how their love changed us.  Taking time to reflect is important, but I know it’s something I can also overlook.  Personally, I get caught up just trying to get the kids to school or pulling bubble gum out of someone’s hair.  Life is crazy, and if we don’t take time laugh, cry, rejoice, and reflect, I believe we will find ourselves in a rat race… and that will always leave us feeling stressed and disappointed. 

This week we celebrate All Saints Day.  Who are the people who have been saints to you?  In our church, being a saint does not mean that you are perfect.  It means that you have in some way shared God’s love with others.  Therefore, we are all simultaneously sinners and saints.  So, who has brought God’s Love into your life?  How has grace been offered to you?  Are you taking time to cherish the love that is near to you?  Today I hope you can find the space to reflect on the people who have brought you hope, and I hope you can take time to embrace the gifts presented before you!

Blessings!


Brian

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Reformation and New Life

Earlier this week, I was at Home Depot picking up a few supplies.  While I was there, I wound up discussing an outdoor irrigation project with one of the people on staff.  She helped me find the part I needed, and that could have been the end of our interaction.  However, we got to talking about our families.  My wife and I just started fostering a little girl, and this employee had fostered kids in California for years.  She shared a tragic story of some of the very serious difficulties that her kids faced, but she also spoke of the life changing power of love.  We wound up spending a fair amount of time listening to each other and acknowledging each other’s story.  I realized I had walked into that store a little overwhelmed, but I walked away feeling refreshed and inspired.  I love hearing of the power we all have to change lives. 

This Sunday we will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  This is a day to remember the people who stood up to corruption and greed within the church.   However, this day should be more than just a history lesson.  Our God is constantly working to bring renewal, hope, and reformation every day.  Whenever a person is freed from abuse, hatred, or violence, I believe God’s Sprit is active.  Whenever someone realizes new life is available, God’s Spirit is there.  I hope we never discount the change that God’s Grace can bring.

Blessings!


PB

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What do you want?

“What do you want?”

That is a question we could dwell on our entire lives.  It is also the first question Jesus asks in the Gospel of John.  Jesus wants us to think about our desires.  What’s driving us?  What’s in our hearts?  Personally, I have found that I can be driven by some incredibly petty things.  I want a new phone.  I want to avoid waiting in lines.  I want my two year old child to find his shoes and get out the door… We all have desires, but Jesus wants us to think about our priorities.  When we look at our lives, should we be searching for something greater?

In today’s scripture passage, Jesus essentially asks some of the religious and political leaders of the time what was driving them.  These individuals had traded valuable gifts of leadership for mundane concerns.  Today I hope you can believe your life has value.  God believes you are capable of great things.  Do you believe this?  What would it mean to desire righteousness and justice instead of the latest gossip?  I hope we can believe God, and I hope we can live for something that really matters.

Blessings!


PB

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Searching for Joy...

There is going to be joy and there is going to
be stress every day... What do you choose to
see?
When you think of weddings, what comes to mind?  Personally, I have officiated at all kinds of different ceremonies.  Some people spend years preparing for their special day.  Other people are married in the blink of an eye.  Some people crave tradition, and others want to travel to exotic locations or dress up like Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  A few people want nothing more than to get married in their mom’s living room.  In the end, I have discovered that any wedding can be beautiful.  In fact, my wife and I were married outside in the rain, but that turned out to be perfect for us!  However, weddings can also be stressful.  I have seen people turn a joyous day into a day of anger and bitterness.  It can become a day where expectations fall short, and blame gets thrown around.  I think it comes down to a choice.  Do we want to see the joy and excitement, or the stress and anxiety? 

Today in our scripture passage, Jesus tells us a parable of a wedding feast.  In the story, every single person is invited, and God is said to delight in each person there.  However, most of the guests choose to ignore the joy that is right in front of them.  This is our choice every day.  Will we accept the bounty of creation, or will we become fixated on the anxieties of life.  I pray we choose to see the blessings!

Peace!


Brian

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hope...

It has been quite the week in Las Vegas.  Although no one in my family was present at the shooting, I know so many people were affected in different ways.  It is staggering to see those I know dealing with the tragic circumstances of these events. 

In Romans 8 we read:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Image result for pray for las vegasAs tragic as these days have been, it is also amazing to see people coming in from all over the nation to help.  Doctors, nurses, counselors, and so many others are here to offer their services.  There are people waiting all day to give blood, and others are donating their money and other resources. 

It is true that one person has the power to bring so much evil.  However, I believe Christ is still with us.  I believe human beings are coming together to offer a love that even more powerful than the chaos.  Today, we pray for all those affected by the violence and hatred, and we lift up those who are offering love in the face of evil.

Blessings!


Brian

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The space in between...

Earlier this week, I found myself stuck in traffic on my way home, and the waiting frustrated me.  It was my day off, and I felt like I had spent my whole day waiting in lines, waiting in traffic…just waiting, waiting, waiting… Now I really didn’t have anything to complain about.  In fact, I made it home earlier than I expected.  However, even a small amount of waiting can frustrate me.  It seems like such a waist!

In this week’s scripture passage, we are told of the virtues of patience.  Very few people get exactly what they want, and even fewer get that right when they want it.  This can be pretty annoying. However, the Bible says that God uses the space in between.  The Israelites had to wait 40 years in the wilderness before they had the wisdom to become a nation.  In the New Testament, a Pharisee named Saul was blinded, and he has to wait 3 days before his heart opened enough to hear the words of forgiveness and healing that he so desperately needed.  Even Jesus spent 40 days in the desert waiting, listening, and praying for God.  In each of these cases, the individuals couldn’t just jump to the happily ever after… They had to wait, listen, and grow in the silence.

Today I wonder what would happen if we opened our hearts and listened for God.  What if we stopped focusing on the end goal, and we opened our hearts in the moments of waiting? Perhaps these are the moments God is using to help us grow and live to the best of our abilities…

Blessings!


Brian

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The spirit that dwells in you...

Today I invite you to ask what kind of spirit lives inside of you.  Do you have a restless spirit?  Do you have a spirit of contentment, thankfulness, or anger…?  What lives inside of you?  Today our scripture passage contains a very powerful verse:

“God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”
-James 4:5

People have speculated over the meaning of this verse for centuries.  However, it seems to say that God has made us who we are.  Whether we are restless, energetic, content, or overbearing… God gave us our spirit, and it is something we can embrace.  We are all different for a reason, and we don’t have to change that.  However, if we want to find fulfillment, we are going to have to offer our spirit back to God.  This is the only way we can truly embrace our gifts and who we truly are. 

I remember being in college and knowing I had gifts.  However as I reflect back on those times, I realize that I was using my gifts for selfish purposes.  I wanted them to make me successful.  This all changed one summer when I worked at a Lutheran camp in Colorado.  This job was one of the most exhausting things I had ever done.  I was waking up early, going to bed late, and helping kids work though all kinds of issues.  Each day brought new challenges, but it also allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible.  Looking back, I realize that there was so much more fulfillment in offering my spirit to God than anywhere else.  Today, I hope you believe you have a spirit inside you, and I hope you can excel to new levels by giving that spirit back to God…

Blessings!


PB 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Judgement or Blessing

How often do you judge people?  As a pastor, I feel like it is my responsibility to stand against any kind of racism or discrimination.  Unfortunately, I know there are times when my unconscious biases get the best of me. 

A few months ago, a woman came to visit me in the office.  She was wearing worn out clothes, and I assumed she was living on the streets.  As she was coming in, I was on my way out.  I had a few errands that I needed run, and I wanted to get home to my family.  Nevertheless, I decided to stop and talk to her.  I thought it was important to listen to her, but I admit that I also judged her.  She resembled too many other people who only wanted money, and I assumed I would not be able to help her.  However, this particular woman was simply looking for prayer.  She had real concerns for the people in her life, and she was looking for the church to support her in prayer.  After we prayed and I went on my way, I was taken aback by how powerful that moment had been.  This woman had been thoughtful, compassionate, and caring, and I was saddened by my own lack of faith in her. 
 
Today I wonder what conscious or unconscious judgments we are making.  Jesus calls us to live each day by faith.  We are called to trust in who God is, but we are also called to believe in all of God’s people.  The Bible tells us each person is called.  Will we choose to believe in this promise?  Or, will we believe we already have the world figured out?

Let’s believe God is here… in the midst of each person we meet!

Blessings!


Brian

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Praying for Houston


The news coming out of Houston is pretty terrifying.  A police officer was killed while trying to serve others… A mother drowns while saving the life of her 3 year old… There are so many terrible stories out there of everyday people just trying to survive. 

People coming together for their neighbors!
As I watch these situations develop, I know I can get overwhelmed by all the pain out there.  It is easy to feel inadequate in these moments.  However, Christ taught His followers never to let the world overwhelm you… for as overwhelming as the situation is, something powerful happens when people come together for the sake of their neighbor.  I was reminded of this when I saw pictures of ordinary Texans with boats heading into the city to help anyone they could.  Businesses started opening their doors to people in need, and monetary donations started coming in.  Whatever we face in this world, Christ promises never to leave us.  As a church, we are called to stand together and offer Christ’s Love to all. 

Please keep all the people of Houston in your prayers this week, and if you feel called to donate, you can click the link below.  Know that 100% of the money taken in by the Evangelical Lutheran Church for Hurricane Relief will go directly to the people in need!


Blessings!


PB

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Identity in Christ

Who do you say that I am?

This question seems to have had an incredible significance to Jesus 2000 years ago, and I believe it still has an incredible importance today. 

Jesus was called many names… Savior, Messiah, Son of the Living God… as well as a blasphemer, fraud, and demoniac.  Ever since the day Jesus preached his first sermon, people have argued over his identity, and I know plenty of people who still fight over this question.  However, I sometimes wonder if we are missing the point.  Jesus certainly wanted his disciples to know who he was, but his teaching quickly moves toward redirecting the disciples to understand who they were.  Even when the disciples clearly don’t have their Messiah figured out, Jesus tells them they are valued.  Peter, in all his imperfections, becomes Christ’s Rock and the foundation of the church. 

Today I hope you can take a little time to understand who you are.  God says that you are His beloved child, and you are a foundation for His Love.  Take heart, and know that you are not alone!

Blessings,

PB

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Faith that Overcomes!

The two men pictured below are the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

They look pretty happy here, but both of these men have seen their share of pain.  The Dalai Lama has fought against oppression and for the freedom of his people.  Desmond Tutu was a spiritual leader for the South African Nation through Apartheid and in the years following.  Both of these men have seen heartbreaking pain and tragedy in their lives.  They have seen the sin that results when one race seeks to dominate others.  They also responded to the violence and division with peace and grace.  I honestly can’t imagine the strength it would take to continue to stand for peace while facing such hostility and destruction from another power.

Problems still remain for these men and their countries, but they clearly believe love can overpower hate.  Looking at their picture, one can also see they have a joy that hatred cannot touch.  This gives me hope when I see division in our world today.  God’s Love can overpower any evil! The Dali Lama and the Archbishop are from very different religions, but have come to value each other.  They have chosen to open their hearts to learn from each other.  In this week’s scripture passage, Jesus will show the power of an open heart by embracing a woman of a different culture.  Today, we don’t have to look far to find hate.  It is my hope and prayer that we could open our hearts to Love.

Blessings!


PB

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Finding Faith

I love summer!  It is a wonderful season that I have always looked forward to.  Now, it is a little different in Las Vegas when it’s 110 degrees outside, but there is still a change of pace that I love.  At the church, I have been able to experience Vacation Bible School, mission opportunities, and my own vacation time.  It has also been a chance to share these experiences with my own 2 year old child.  This is not always easy.  Our little boy really seems to thrive on a routine, and traveling with him can be a little chaotic.  However, it is amazing (and perhaps a little scary) to think about all the trust he has in us.  We may be leading him to the top of a mountain or on some other crazy adventure, but through it all he has faith that we will always be with him.  He trusts us.  He trusts his grandparents and family, and it’s amazing to see that he also trusts the church.  He knows there are people here who care about him.  He may not understand everything that goes on in the world. (I don’t think anybody does), but he has faith that we will be here for each other!

This week we are looking at the story of Peter walking on the water.  This is a story of faith… How much was Peter willing to trust Jesus?  In our lives, I wonder if we believe that we are loved.  Do you believe that God will always stand beside you?  Do you believe that the church will believe in you even when you make mistakes?  Today I hope we can all find grace by believing in God’s divine love.  That is what brings life to the world!

Blessings!


Brian



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mexico!!!

I just had an amazing week with our youth group in Rosarito, Mexico.  Our youth teamed up with Amor Missions to build a house for a family in need.  The family had a two year old girl who had been very sick.  The doctors were saying this girl was unable to stay in their current home because of the black mold that was all over their house. 

The whole group and the family!
Our small group from CLC was able to build a new house for the family in just 3 days.  It wasn’t much by U.S. standards, but it offered a bit of hope to this family.  It was a powerful experience that pushed each one of us, and I believe we all walked away with a deeper sense of ourselves.  We discovered what Christ was doing in the people there, and we began to see God in so many new ways.  I love these trips, not just for the service we do, but also for the change and grace we receive from the people we meet.

Today it is my hope and prayer that you could look for Christ when you face moments of difficulty.  In moments when you feel overwhelmed, or like you are facing the impossible, I pray you could discover Christ working in your life!

Peace and Blessings!

Pastor Brian

We put the frame up on the first day!
Finishing up the Stucco on day 3.  In the background you can
see the home the family was living in at the time.





Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sing for Joy!

It has been twenty years since I first joined my high school cross country team, and running has been a big part of my life ever since.  Early on I loved the simplicity of this sport.  I could just throw on a pair of shoes and hit the road, but today things aren’t that easy.  I have to wake up by 5am to beat the heat, and even then it can still be 90 degrees out there.  Next, I have to get our child up, change his clothes, wrestle him in the running stroller, give him an acceptable snack, fill his water bottle, and find him a book that he wants to take along.  Sometimes I feel like half the workout is just getting out the door!

However, I still love running, and I love sharing each of these mornings with my son.  He loves to point out all the rabbits, quail, and ducks along the trail.  He also loves to sing as he rolls along.  For the past few months, his favorite songs have been the ABC’s and Jesus Loves Me, and he doesn’t just softly mumble the words.  He shouts as loud as he can, “JESUS LOVES ME THIS I KNOW…!”  Then he proclaims, “I love this song daddy…”  It’s pretty fun to be a part of!  It also makes me realize that I should spend more time sharing the joy that is on my heart.  What a wonder way to live!

I think every human being needs to believe they are loved.  I also think we need to take time every day to appreciate the love we experience.  It is my hope and prayer that each one of you may open your eyes to the love that is in your life, and may you feel free to share the joy that is on your heart!

Blessings!


Brian

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summer Fun

Image result for come ye that are heavy ladenI’ve always loved summer.  As a kid, I thought this season was all about getting away from school, and that certainly was a big part of it!  However, I learned a lot over those vacations.  I had amazing parents and other people in my life who helped me gain a bigger picture of the world.  I went on trips, experienced Bible camps, and I explored new parts of the world around me.  The summer was a time of exploration and adventure, and I will always cherish those moments!

Today, summer is slightly different.  For one, I live in Las Vegas, and it is a lot harder to get outside and enjoy the world when it is 115 degrees out there!  I also have responsibilities at home and at work that simply cannot go away.  However, I still feel summer offers a new perspective.  There is Vacation Bible School at the church, my family and I went on a trip to see relatives in Minnesota, and I am looking forward to some amazing mission trips coming up.  Our lives may change, but I believe there are always opportunities to see the world anew…

In our scripture passage today Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  I think it is easy to get caught in a world that is so busy we can’t take a break to see all the wonder around us.  Today, I think Jesus is calling us to let go of the anxiety and embrace a childlike enthusiasm for life.  It is my hope and prayer that we would be able to do just that!

Blessings!


Brian

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Relational God

Have you ever been lost? 

A few years ago, I was hiking up a mountain with some friends.  As we were getting closer to the top, we ran into some tricky conditions. The snow had obscured our trail, and some people in the group were ready to turn around.  The smart idea would have been to go back with the group, but I really wanted to keep going.  I usually have a rule that nobody should split up in the mountains.  It’s just a bad idea to leave other people.  However, I knew the top couldn’t be much more than a mile away… and I really wanted to go for it.  I told everyone I would be back in flash, and I set off, leaving everyone else behind.  I quickly scrambled over snow, ice, and scree to reach the top.  I remember feeling pretty proud of myself in that moment… However, in my effort to reach the top, I realized I hadn’t paid close enough attention to the route I took. There was no path, and it was impossible to follow my tracks back over the ice and scree.  Pretty soon I realized I was lost. 
Do you know that feeling?  At that moment I wasn’t worried that I would be stuck up in the mountains… I knew I could get down.  However, I became very concerned that I would be unable to find the group I left behind.  I knew I made a stupid mistake, and now I was paying for it! 

I wound up going back up to the top and trying to retrace my steps down.  This time things looked a little more familiar, but I still couldn’t find the group.  I was just starting to feel that pit in my stomach when I heard my wife call my name.  It was so good to hear a familiar voice and to know that I was not going to be alone. 

How do you feel today?  You don’t have to be on a mountain to feel lost.  You may be surrounded by other people, and you may have a busy schedule, but loneliness can still creep into your life.  This week we are taking a look at relationships.  I believe God shows up in the people around us.  We are not alone.  God is calling each of us into a deeper love, and I hope we can all experience His grace.

Blessings!


Brian 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Enjoy the surprises!

He did very well for a sick guy...
The last week in May is usually pretty exciting in my house.  My wife’s birthday is on the 27th, and we also celebrate Memorial Day around that same time.  As a couple, we love to make plans to cherish every drop of the unofficial beginning of summer!  However, last Friday I got a call from our childcare center informing us that our two year old boy wasn’t doing so well.  He was super congested, and he was running a low fever.  When we got him home, he was miserable.  It seemed like all of our carefully laid out plans were going to be thrown out the window, and we were at our wits end...  Nevertheless, after an exhausting night, he seemed to be feeling better, and we decided to try and get him outside.  We did not fit in any crazy Memorial Day hikes, but we did have a ton of fun at the park.  As it turned out, all the rest of our carefully laid out plans wound up changing as well, but we were able to enjoy what we had.
I believe even the greatest plans can fall though… and that is pretty frustrating to me.  However, I also believe we are called to learn, enjoy, and grow through every moment.  Every day we have is a gift, and we get to choose if we enjoy it or not.  Jesus said that God’s Spirit is like the wind:  “it blows where it chooses…”  Our plans will never work out perfectly, but we can trust that the Holy Spirit is with us wherever we go!
Blessings!

Brian Ward
It's fun to be chased by dinosaurs on your birthday!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

God is here...

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve spent a fair amount of time at Home Depot.  It seemed like every time I turned around I noticed a new project that needed to be completed.  I started by fixing a leaky faucet, that led to repairing the irrigation system, and then I started working on the garbage disposal.  It’s been one thing after another.  Thankfully, nothing has been too hard to handle.  However, I have this ability to turn the simplest project turn into a pretty big mess!  I was forever running back and forth to the store, buying the wrong piece of equipment, and second guessing my choices. 
When I make mistakes, I can get pretty frustrated with myself.  However, I’ve learned to keep the bigger picture in mind.  Each week I have the opportunity to visit people who are stuck in their homes, sick in the hospital, or even locked in a prison cell.  Taking time to visit these people is an important reminder that there are bigger problems in the world.  I can get so frustrated when things don’t go my way, but the Bible tells us that in this world we will always have troubles.  We can either choose to let these things overwhelm us, or we can stand with each other, support each other, and love each other through the pain. 
Whatever you are going through, I hope you can feel the love of other people, and I hope you can feel the love of God. 
Blessings!

PB

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Do you believe in Love?

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
1 John 4:16
Personally, I find this to be an incredibly powerful scripture passage.  In the moments when it is hard to believe in God, this verse allows us to believe in Love.  When we see compassion, kindness, and generosity in the world, we are looking at God.  I love how God becomes so much more tangible in this verse.  However, simply stating, “God is Love” will not solve all of our problems.  In fact, I think it takes a lot of faith to believe in love…
I’ve visited a number of people who have felt so overwhelmed that they were ready to give up on life.  Whether it was because of sickness, depression, or isolation, they felt like their lives were broken and worthless.  I also have seen plenty of people who are haunted by mistakes they have made.  Love can become a pretty hard concept for anyone to believe in. 
I see the story of Jesus as the real hope that we all have.  Jesus embraced the sick.  He shared meals the sinner, and he restored hope to the broken.  Today I hope we can share a tangible sign of love to the world.  I hope we can give people a faith in the love that binds all things together.
Blessings!

PB

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!!

I have been blessed with a wonderful mother, and I am so thankful for everything she has done for me over the years.  However, when I was a kid I remember thinking my mom worried too much… I knew she had good intentions, but I always believed I had things under control.  She had nothing to fear. At least I felt that way until I had my own child… 
In two years my little boy has been to the ER twice. He has undergone surgery, chipped his teeth, and who knows what else! (I’m sure there are plenty of other terrifying moments that I’ve just repressed from my memory…)  In many ways, these past two years have been the most stressful of my life, but they have also been the most blessed.  I have seen love show up in more ways than I would have thought possible, and I am so thankful to have had these last crazy two years.  I wouldn’t trade them for the world!
In this week’s scripture reading, we are reminded that we are God’s beloved children.  There is nothing we can do that will make God turn away from us.  We are loved without condition.  We are loved for who we are, and we loved for who we will become.  Even though we may make a crazy mess out of our lives, our God would never leave us.  I hope there is a time this week when you can thank someone who has shown you a mother’s love.  I also hope that you can believe in God’s unconditional love for you.
Blessings!

PB