Thursday, July 22, 2021

Chasing Greed or Blessings...

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

-Luke 12:15


Sometimes I look at all the stuff I have in my house. We have Legos, blocks, adventure sets, and action figures. We have piles of crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Then we have all the markers, crayons, and toys that we don’t use anymore. We have all kinds of stuff in our garage. We have piles of clothes. We have gadgets that seem important, but we don’t exactly know what they do anymore. It’s crazy to think that I actually pride myself on being able to get rid of things… I think all humans just have a desire for material possessions.


Jesus warned people 2000 years ago about greed. In those days people did not have nearly as many toys, gadgets, or clothes as we do, but greed could still disrupt and even destroy lives back then. Greed is just part of human nature, and if we don’t pay attention to the deeper blessings of God’s Love, we may miss out on some of the greatest rewards this world has to offer.  


A few days ago, my wife and I took the kids outside to the wash near our house. It had just finished raining, and the boys had an opportunity to splash in the puddles, climb on the rocks, and experience some truly simple joys. After being cooped up in the house for several weeks of hot temperatures, it was so nice to enjoy some of the things we typically take for granted. 



Today I hope we can open our eyes to the beauty around us. I hope we can realize that the path a better life is not found in simply obtaining more things. This world is filled with all kinds of wonder, joy, hope, and love. Let’s experience these blessings together!


Blessings!



Brian Ward

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Diving into the story

Jesus constantly used stories when speaking to the crowds. For it had been

prophesied, “I will talk in parables; I will explain mysteries hidden since the

beginning of time.” 


-Matthew 13:34–35



I have two children, a six year old and a two year old.  Both of them love to hear stories.  Every night ends with them asking for just one more book.  It doesn’t matter if they have heard the story a hundred times already - they want to hear it again.  Even as adults, we are still drawn to a good story.  We look for the next book, TV series, or movie.  Kingdoms rise and fall… Rulers and empires may write their names in stone, but most of this is forgotten - unless you are a real history nerd. :). Instead, it is the stories that continue.  Whether it is Greek mythology or old stories from the Bible, these narratives continue to be past down and have influence.


Jesus was a storyteller.  We know from the Bible that Jesus frequently spoke in parables.  There is something about a story that walks along side us.  It often opens our hearts to something deeper.  It doesn’t tell us exactly what to believe, but it helps us expand our horizons.  I believe this was Christ’s goal.  He wanted us to dive into the mysteries of life and ponder the deeper meaning of grace, love, and the Kingdom of God.  





I love watching my two little boys engage in a story.  Sometimes all the questions they ask are really just a stall technique to avoid going to bed, but they are also both interested in the world.  They want someone to explain the world and help them dive a little deeper.  It is my hope that we could all look at the world with this kind of creativity and imagination.  I hope we can all follow the Spirit’s lead as we explore all the mysteries of God’s creation.  


Blessings,




Brian Ward

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Taking time for our neighbor

“And who is my neighbor?”

-Luke 10:29


A scribe asked Jesus this question over 2000 years ago, and people are still struggling to answer it today.  The vast majority of us only want to think of ourselves and those close to us. However, this kind of close mindedness can lead to to demonizing the stranger if we are not careful.   


A few days ago, my wife had a conversation with a friend of hers who sees the world very different politically.  Their conversation wasn’t heated.  Her friend just asked about some of her views.  This friend was not trying to pick a fight or stir up trouble, he was simply curious.  When I thought about this, it almost shocked me.  When people ask about politics or religion, they usually want a fight.  It’s almost unheard of to find another person who simply wants to listen, learn, and grow.  



Throughout the scriptures, Jesus continually takes time for others.  He listened to the needs of individuals who were labeled unclean.  He patiently heard the questions and concerns of Nicodemus the Pharisee.  It didn’t matter if a person was a wealthy tax collector or a poor fisherman, Jesus had time to deeply care for all.  



Today I hope we can pause for a minute and consider the people who we have been ignoring.  Is there someone who annoys or frustrates you?  I know there are people who I can easily and subconsciously judge prematurely.  I can get caught up in the busy nature of the world, and I can lose sight of what really matters.  I hope we can take a breath right now, in this moment, and stop the judgement.  Christ valued everybody.  Christ values you.  Let’s take a little extra time and embrace the blessings we find in our neighbor.  


Blessings!



Brian

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Let Go and Let God...

Is there something you need to let go of?

 

I love to have control.  That doesn’t mean I love controlling other people, but I really like to be prepared.  I want to know what I am getting myself into, and I want to feel like there is no situation that I can’t handle.  However, there are times I need to let go of this need for control.

 

Last week my family and I went on a vacation to visit my wife’s parents in Colorado.  We were really looking forward to this trip, because it was our first vacation since the virus locked everything down.  We prepared as much as possible, but there was also a lot I couldn’t control.  When my wife and I first started traveling with our boys, we would get so frustrated by the smallest things.  They wouldn't take their naps.  They complained too much.  They spilled their snacks everywhere.  Granted, all of this stuff can be frustrating, but I needed to slow down, develop patience, and open my heart to new possibilities.  

 

Amazingly, when I let go of what I thought the road trip should be, the kids behaved incredibly well.  I had to let go of some of my expectations, but most of those were not very realistic anyway.  We took advantage of many more scenic viewpoints and state parks that I may have otherwise just cruised past to get where I thought we needed to be.  The boys were incredibly blessed to get some time with Grandma and Grandpa, and we cherished the time way more than if I had forced it to happen on my timeline.

 

Letting go is never easy, but God is always offering us another opportunity to experience the grace around us.  We are in a sermon series at CLC that is taking a look at Living Generously.  A generous life is a life that is open to something beyond ourselves.  This week I hope we can all take a bit of time to cherish the grace we have and freely share it with others.  

 

Blessings,

 

Brian







Thursday, May 27, 2021

Don't let stress win...

What stresses you out?

 

Do you have a strategy to handle anxiety?

 

I live a pretty blessed life, but there are times even the simplest things can overwhelm me.  Just last week, I was making a quick run to the grocery store, when my two year old called out that he had to go pee.  I pulled him out as fast as I could, but then I realized my other child was missing a shoe!  My two year old was still yelling that he really had to pee, so I gave up on the shoe and carried them both to the public bathrooms.  I feel like we must have been a sight to see.

 

I can smile about that incident now, but if we aren’t careful, we can let the small things get to us.  I also encounter people everyday who are dealing with very serious problems.  It is easy to get lost in the anxieties of the world.  Fear can send us inward.  We tend to focus on ourselves and neglect the needs of others.



In our upcoming sermon series, we are going to look at the idea of:  Living Generously.  We don’t want to let fear and anxiety win.  Christ gave us the gift of grace to live with open hearts ready to share God’s love with the world.  Every day we are alive there will be things to worry about.  Let’s not let those fears define us.  Let’s live with open and loving hearts!

 

Blessings!

 

 

Pastor Brian

Thursday, May 13, 2021

An Inspired Life

Do you feel inspired?

 

Fifteen years ago the direction of my life changed forever.  Before that point, I had been focused on graduate school.  I was looking at a path that would lead me to a career in medicinal chemistry.  However, I also felt a calling to inspire people in a different way.  I loved building relationships through the church, and I loved connecting with others as a camp counselor.  Eventually, I decided to take a leap of faith and begin the road to ordained ministry.  When I was following this call, I felt empowered in a way that I had never experienced before.  I felt hope in a new way, and I felt a need to share this with the world.  

 

Looking back, I can see following God’s path was life giving.  However, I am struck by how deeply I tried to ignore the call in that period of time.  I had my plan and my agenda.  Even when the Chemistry lab just seemed like a grind, I put up with it to focus on my plans.  When I finally walked into seminary, it gave me a sense of freedom.  I was living with hope, and I was going to have the opportunity to share God’s Love with everyone.  I was inspired.



 

Today, it is still easy to get caught up in my own path.  I may be a pastor now, but we should never stop looking for the new ways God is calling us.  We still have our plans, and it is easy for anyone to get stuck.  When I look at the stories of Jesus, I am often drawn to the calling of the disciples.  Jesus called men and women from the most unlikely places, and he led them to a completely new life.  They had the opportunity to see the world in a new way, and it changed their lives forever.  Their stories are very similar to ours.  Even though the disciples followed Christ, it was still easy to fall back into their own habits.  As Christians, we are called to look for the Holy Spirit and live an inspired life.  Today I hope you can take a breath and experience new ways God is calling you.

 

Blessings!

 

 

Brian

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Faith in Action

Growing up is hard…


My two little boys are ages two and six, and they are both a ton of fun.  However, the age difference between them is such that it can be really hard to find things for them to do together.  The six year old wants to climb a mountain, and the two year old wants to throw his pancakes on the floor.  Then when the two year old is ready to go to the park, the six year old is busy with his legos. (And two year olds really struggle with legos…) Besides all of this, both boys are trying to assert their own independence, and that means they love to say:  NO!  Getting out of the house can feel impossible with all of this going on.  


However, the weather in Las Vegas has been pretty amazing recently.  The temperature has been perfect, and aside from a few windy days, I couldn’t ask for anything better.  My wife and I have really been feeling the urge to take the kids exploring, so we made the extra effort to take the kids to the mountains.  For a while, it seemed like no one was going to be happy, but when we arrived at a nice picnic spot near a patch of leftover snow, the kids started to have a blast.  They were excited to play with each other and laugh and enjoy the moment.  Sometimes it takes quite a bit of extra effort, but it is always so amazing to see their relationship deepen.


This week we are taking time to think about our identity in the Church.  Here at CLC, we have lifted up six words that pertain to our ideals:  REAL PEOPLE, INCLUSIVE GOD, and RADICAL GRACE.  As a church, we believe these six words describe what we believe.  In addition to a statement of faith, they are also part of our mission.  We are called to go forth and share these gifts as the very ministry of Christ.  Putting our faith into action isn’t always easy.  In fact, we can find countless reasons why it’s easier to give up in the face of the chaos in the world.  




In some ways, we all have to grow up in our faith and put our words into action.  This is going to be difficult, but if we believe the words of Christ, it is always worth it.  Personally I have made plenty of mistakes in my ministry and in parenting, but God shows up in the mistakes.  I’ve seen growth in my own family and I’ve seen the church accomplish great things.   We can’t be afraid of falling on our faces at times.  We are called to live out our faith with love.


Blessings!



Brian