Thursday, May 28, 2020


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 -

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!



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!


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!


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
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.


Pastor Brian

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Making space to worship

"Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
-Matthew 21:9

Palm Sunday Hosana To The King Of Kings Wishes PictureThis week we are celebrating Palm Sunday in the church.  Traditionally this is a joyful time.  We remember the day Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem, and the people stopped everything to worship Him.  Now, we have to remember the people would soon turn on Jesus, but for at least a moment, their hearts were filled with praise.

It was a confusing time in ancient Israel, and there is still an abundance of fear, uncertainly, and chaos in our world today.  However, I think it is important to pause and think about ways to continue to worship wherever we are…

I had a wonderful experience in with my family recently.  My wife was outside in the yard with our boys, and she started talking with one of our neighbors.  (FYI:  they were able to speak while also observing safe social distancing. :)

Image may contain: 1 person, tree and outdoorAnyway, the neighbor was apologizing, because she was not able to get out into her yard to remove the weeds that were growing there.  She was older, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain her yard.  When our older son heard this he immediately wanted to help, and he started picking the weeds.  It turned out to be a great activity that got the kids out of the house, and it also helped someone else.  Even our one year old got the hang of taking the weeds and putting them in the bucket.  It may not be much, but it opened our eyes to little ways that we can still reach out to our neighbors while still being socially distant. 

Our world today is confusing.  I wish I could be doing more for people in this time of great need.  However, I believe our scripture reminds us that there are still ways to praise God.  We may not feel like we are making a difference, but simple acts of love are still changing the world!

God Bless you all!!

Pastor Brian

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Seeking love in a world of change

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind…
Ephesians 4:23

The Bible tells us that we need to be renewed in the Spirit.  Indeed, the Christian faith is all about renewal, rebirth, and new life.  However, there are times I lose sight of this perspective.  Life becomes ordinary, and I stop looking for the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom. 

Image result for be renewed in the spirit of your mindToday the Corona Virus is bringing about a new reality.  It is causing a lot of troubles and real tragedy, but the virus is also forcing us to have a new perspective.  I know I am seeing everything a little bit differently.  First of all, I am reminded of how little control I really have.  Just a couple weeks ago, I was certain about almost everything in my life.  Now I am surrounded by uncertainty.  There are people being furloughed or laid off.  I know people who are sick, and there are others who are feeling the real danger of this virus.  It’s like everything changed in an instant. 

As difficult as this entire situation is, the virus has also shown me the importance of love.  I am so grateful for the blessings I have in my family, and I really value the time I have been able to spend reaching out to the people I care about.  It is certainly not a time that I would ever wish for, but it has caused me to take a deeper look at everything.

Today I hope you all can take a bit of time to take a fresh look at your life.  Our world may be flipped upside down, but God is present… I hope you can all open your hearts to the new work that God is doing!


Pastor Brian

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Faith and Love

Where is God leading you?

Our church is in the midst of a sermon series taking a look at the story of Abraham and Sarah.  The Bible speaks of these two individuals as heroes of faith.  When God asked them to leave their homeland, they left.  When God asked them to follow an unpredictable path, they listened.  They lived by faith, but they also had times of doubt.  They questioned God, and they laughed at God.  However, day by day they opened their hearts to God’s unending love. 

Their story reminds me that we all live by faith.  We do not always have the power to control others or even ourselves.  Sometimes things fall apart.  Other times, things come together.  However, these Bible stories teach us that we are loved regardless of our circumstances. 

As I look at my life, it is pretty easy to see that I am not in control. :) My one year old is always at the urgent care, and my 4 year old turns 5 on Friday!  It just reminds me how fast time is flying.  We start kindergarten next year, and before I know it, both kids will be graduating...  Now I still have a significant amount of influence and power over their lives, but I recognize there will be a time when I can’t just force them to do whatever I want.  I have to trust in love.  I have to trust that God is with them.  Today, I hope and pray that we all open our hearts to this kind of love!


Pastor Brian

Thursday, February 20, 2020


Do you believe in Transfiguration?

Transfiguration is a pretty big word…  I saw it defined recently as:  a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.  I bring this up, because we are celebrating Transfiguration Sunday this week in church.  This day acknowledges an ancient story from the Bible where Jesus was transfigured before three of his disciples on a mountaintop. 

When Jesus was transfigured, the Bible says his face shone like the sun and his clothes became a dazzling white.  This is the moment when Jesus became determined to go to Jerusalem and confront the cross as well.  Personally, I find the transfiguration to be very mysterious, but I also find a lot of meaning in it.  I find meaning in the mountains.  I find meaning in opening my heart to the mysteries of God in the world around me.

Last week, my wife and I took our kids exploring in the Pittman wash.  The boys loved scrambling over the rocks, watching the minnows in the stream, and crawling under thorn covered bushes.  Overall the wash is fairly tame, but it offers something wonderful.  I believe nature has an ability to change hearts in a way that would not be possible if we never challenged ourselves.

Perhaps the reason Jesus brought his disciples up that mountain so long ago was to experience the world in a new way.  Their faith was given a new perspective, and their lives were all affected.  Today, I hope we can all find time to see God in a new light.  I hope we can all acknowledge that God is bigger than our understanding, but God’s grace is always working to lead us into the wonder of these mysteries!



Thursday, February 6, 2020

Love and Sacrifice

Where do you find love?

Last week I had a chance to go on a trip with my family to Florida.  We didn’t get to see Mickey Mouse or do any of the other touristy stuff.  Instead, this was a trip to see my grandfather and a few other family members who my kids haven’t met.  We also got to stomp around in a Florida swamp, ride a golf cart through a retirement community, and feed the cattle on a ranch.  What more could little boys ask for? :)  

Of course there were difficulties… Both kids had ear problems on the plane, and we wound up going to the urgent care one day to try and deal with an infection, but in spite of all the chaos, it was fun to see so much growth.

One highlight was getting a tour of a ranch where my uncle has done some work.  We got to see newborn calves, and the boys had a chance to feed the cattle as well.  My 1 year old learned that if he was quiet these nearly 1000 pound animals would walk right up to him and eat the food right out of his hand!  It was so much fun to watch the delight on his face while feeding the animals!  In fact, the entire trip was a delight.  Yes there were difficult moments, but we all experienced love, and we all had opportunities to love others.  The joys of the trip vastly outweighed the trials!
Helping little brother feed the cattle

This week at Community Lutheran we are learning about what we have to do for love, and we are considering the sacrifices we may have to make.  Today I hope we can open our hearts to the Holy Spirit.  May we always step out boldly for love!


Pastor Brian

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Spiritual Growth

Have you ever thought about your Spiritual Growth?

What was your life like ten years ago?  How about twenty years ago?  Fifty years ago?  What kind of person were you at that time?  If you had to live those days again, would you make the same choices?  What have you learned?  How have you grown? 

Personally, I was just finishing my seminary studies ten years ago, and I had no idea where I would be heading.  I can think of so many mistakes that I was about to make.  I experienced success and failure as well as joy and sorrow.  Today, I have grown into a very different person, and the greatest lessons I’ve learned were not taught in school.  I’ve had to learn these lessons in the moments of vulnerability, failure, and sometimes from the tragedies.
Image result for making all things new 
This week we are talking about spiritual growth at Community Lutheran, and I know there are times I don’t want to go through the real pain of growth… I want to jump straight to the “happily ever after” part.  However, our scriptures teach us that each day we live is an opportunity to grow a little more, even if there is some pain involved... 

We are not the same people we once were, and we will not be the same people a year from now.  We will face joy and pain, but God goes with us through it all.  Whatever happens, I hope we can experience vulnerability and failure and know that it is okay.  We are not supposed to be perfect.  We are to try and live with open hearts so that our spirit can learn to soar.



Thursday, January 16, 2020

Searching for Love and Justice

Do you see hate in the world?  Have you ever witnessed someone being bullied or harassed for the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or any host of other factors?

In the book of Genesis, it says that the inclination of every human heart is evil, and I can see the real damage that hatred is doing in our world today.  Now this doesn’t mean that people are evil.  In fact, the Bible says all people are created good, and we always have the capacity to see the good in others.  However, I think we are inclined to put too much emphasis on our fear and shame, and that can cause us to find evil in what God created to be good. 

Earlier this week, my wife and I were having a conversation about the state of the world.  We were talking about injustice, violence, and other problems that seemed almost too big to handle. 

Interestingly, our four year old son heard us talking, and I guess he noticed a sense of hopelessness in our voices.  Now, I don’t think he really understood everything, but he noticed that we were overwhelmed.  So in the midst of our conversation, he stopped us to say, “Mommy!  Daddy!  Wait!  When I become an astronaut, I can use my spaceship and fly you guys into space and you won’t have to worry about any of this stuff!”

I have to admit that comment warmed my heart and it certainly made me smile… However, I am also reminded that as Christians we are a part of the world, and as generous as my son’s offer was, I can’t just run away when things get tough… (Or fly off in a spaceship as the case may be...J)  God does not see this world as hopeless!  God sees all of us as his hands and feet, and we are called to be the voice of hope! 

Jesus came to this world to bring about real change, and Christ believed we would do greater things than he ever did.  This doesn’t mean we have to take on the world single handedly.  In the book of Micah chapter 6 verse 8, it says:

The Lord 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.

God is with us in the simple acts of love and justice that we can all do.  Today, as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I hope we can all believe that we have a role to play in sharing God’s love and justice with the world.  God believes in each of us and God never ceases to call us into action. 


Brian Ward

Thursday, January 2, 2020

A season of light

What does Epiphany mean to you?

I don’t use the word Epiphany too much in my everyday conversations, but is important to the church.  The Epiphany of our Lord is a day on the church calendar that is dedicated to the idea that God is revealed in real ways to each and every one of us.  God breaks into our lives, and we all have an opportunity to open our hearts to the life changing work of Christ.

Personally, I have been taking some time to think about my own Epiphanies.  I remember the first summer I worked at a Christian Camp in Colorado.  That mountain top experience of God forever changed my life.  I met a community of people who welcomed me and my gifts, and I will always look back on those days with awe and wonder.  I had a chance to share so many beautiful sunrises and sunsets with others.  I had countless opportunities to share and receive grace, and I saw Christ come alive.

I think it is important to continue to go out of our way to seek these moments of awe and wonder.  Last week I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with the youth group.  We traveled to Mexico to build a home for a young couple and their one year old son.  Before the trip, I was honestly feeling a little exhausted.  We had just finished Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services, and I had to pack up and be ready to leave at 5:30am on December 26th.  We ran into snow and road closures along the way, and part of me was feeling a little burnt out.  However, when we arrived in Mexico, we had this wonderful time with the family.  Although my Spanish is more than a little rusty, we could still share so much joy together.  It reminded me of Jesus leading his disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, where the non-Jewish people lived.  Jesus wanted to take his disciples outside of their comfort zone to experience God in new ways. 

I have come to look forward to mission trips.  They open my heart in ways that is hard to explain, but they also show me the power of the Holy Spirit.  Today, I pray for hearts to be opened.  I hope we can all look at the world in a new way and see that God’s Light is shining on us!


Brian Ward

Working together to build a house...

The family and their new home