Tuesday, October 28, 2014

All Saint's Day

Recently, I was looking at how full my calendar was.  There are all kinds of youth activities, service projects, Boy Scout programs, and discipleship groups that I am a part of.  I can’t think of the last time my wife actually sat down and ate a nice quiet meal together.  However, I have to admit, we want to live like this.  We like to stay busy.  Sure, life may get a little stressful, but we love going places and trying new things.  I love working at a church, because I have so many wonderful opportunities to stay involved with different groups.  However, I was thinking about a scripture passage recently from Ecclesiastes 3: 
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
3 A time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance…

Busy, Busy, Busy!
Sometimes there are so many things going on, I simply chose to stay busy with the new and exciting adventures.  I look for the next activity where I can laugh, dance, and build things up!  However, I wonder if I am taking any time to break down, weep, and mourn?  All Saint’s Day is coming up this Sunday.  Growing up, I don’t think I ever realized this day existed.  (I was always too busy eating my leftover candy from Halloween!) However, All Saint’s Day is a day where we take time to remember those who have died.  We can also remember those relationships we have lost or the people and places we’ve had to leave behind for one reason or another.  That’s not something I like to dwell on, but I really do believe it is important.  Sure, I think we all need to stay busy, but we also need time to grieve.  Life changes so fast.  We need time to give thanks for the love that that has been passed on to us.  I think we all need space to grieve too.  We need to have time for closure and time to say goodbye. 

Blessings!  May each of you find peace and comfort this All Saint’s Day.

-Pastor Brian

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spirit of the Reformation

So, this past week has been a blast!  My parents came down from Minnesota, and we've been trying to pack as much into this week as possible.  Kira and I are still pretty busy with work, but we've had time to check out the city, go for a couple hikes, and just laugh and spend time with one another.    

Seeing my parents also made me think about my life’s journey.  Have you ever looked at your life and wondered, “How did I get here?” Personally, I never could have guessed or imagined that I would wind up as a Pastor in Las Vegas!  First of all, I never dreamed I would become a pastor.  Second, I’m from a small rural Minnesota town… How did I wind up out here in the desert? However, small opportunities in my life led to something that I would never change.  I love where I am at.  I love where I came from, and I can’t wait to see where I am going…

God's Spirit is making something new!
Have you ever taken time to look at your life’s journey?  Are there people or events that drastically changed the way you live your life?  This week we are celebrating Reformation Day.  This is a wonderful celebration in the church where we celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit.  Whatever happens in life, we are called to remember God is here, and God is moving in this world!  Sometimes life is difficult, but I believe God is making something new… I believe God can create new life in ways that we can’t possibly imagine.  I pray this week that we may all be open to the Holy Spirit’s work in all that we do!



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finding God's Wisdom on a Confirmation Retreat

Camp Foxtail - The camp where our confirmation kids went
earlier this month
A couple weeks ago, I went on a confirmation retreat with the 9th grade students from our congregation.  I love teaching this group of kids, but sometimes it can get really difficult.  If I’m teaching something that the group doesn’t think is relevant, if it’s too ethereal, or if I just sound like I’m lecturing, they will simply shut down, and I will wind up talking to myself.  So, to avoid that, I’m constantly wondering if there is any way I make the class a little more real and a little less boring. That’s why I love going on retreat to the Mt. Charleston area.   There’s just something about the mountains that makes us come alive!  There’s no way you can be bored!  
Well, at least that’s my perspective… but many of the kids did tell me how amazing the trip was.  Some of the youth even got up before the sun rose to go for a run with me in the 35 degree mountain air.  We jumped over rocks, climbed a couple thousand feet, and we even had a real snowball fight.  Of course, we also had time at the end of the day to simply sit and worship around the campfire… Amazing!  It was so much fun to see these kids living with such passion!

The fall colors were on full display that week!
The trip was also a chance for some walls to come down.  There were opportunities for the youth to share what was going on in their lives.  They had the chance to talk about some of the difficulties they faced.  Sometimes, I forget how much kids have to go through in this world – it can be pretty tough!  We all need a community that will support us in our times of trial.

This week, in our sermon series, we are talking about wisdom literature in the Bible.  Personally, I don’t believe wisdom is just about the facts we have to memorize… Instead, I think Biblical wisdom is really about finding Hope.  When people built kingdoms, they passed on their hope to the next generation.  When those kingdoms fell, and the people had to live in exile, they still passed on the hope they had found.  Through the good and the bad, God’s people shared words of hope.  That is wisdom!  That is also what we’re trying to pass along in confirmation.  It’s not about memorizing all the facts just for the sake of memorizing them.  We are trying to help one another to believe in God’s love, even the darkest moments.  Biblical wisdom cannot take away the pain we all have to face, but it can help us to realize we are not alone.  We have a God who always stands with His people – through the good and the bad.  That is what Jesus is all about! It is my prayer that we would unashamedly share this hope with the world.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Learning to Trust

As some of you may know, my wife and I just purchased our first home in Henderson, NV.  We love the area and the house, and we know we are blessed in so many ways.  However, there are also times when we feel like we are getting in a little over our heads.  Before we moved, it seemed like we were always busy.  We got home, we ate dinner, and we went to bed… not much time for anything else.  Now, after the move, things have gotten even busier.  We have to find time to set everything up in the new house, fix the leaky toilets, replace the water heater, and who knows what else.  I feel like I’m at Home Depot all the time, but I’m not catching up on anything.  It makes me wonder what we’re going to do when we have the baby!  How in the world do people have time for any of this?  People tell us these years before having kids are pretty carefree.  Then, when we have a kid, we will know the meaning of crazy!  Which leaves me wondering, “How will this ever work?!?”

Where I spend much of my free time these days...
I had a friend tell me recently that I can’t spend my time worrying how life is going to work out.  When the time comes, “You just make it work…”  This doesn’t mean it will all be easy. (It won’t be!) However, you have to have faith… You have to trust that God is there… This week we are talking about trusting in the Lord, and for me, that is not easy.  I like to have things planned out, and I like to know what’s coming next.  However, no matter what age or stage of life you are in – you never know what will happen.  It’s my prayer that we could all learn to trust in God, and believe that God is doing something Great! 



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Iron Sharpens Iron

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I got out of town for a couple of days.  We went on a quick hiking trip to Great Basin National Park, which is a crazy awesome place!  You have to drive through 300 miles of desert to get there, but it’s pretty incredible!  We got to climb two of Nevada’s highest mountains, we touched Nevada’s only glacier, and we were out of contact with the rest of the world… if only for a couple days.  I love taking time just to be in the mountains, see the leaves change color, and scramble to the top of a thirteen thousand foot peak.  Nature helps me to feel alive, and it helps me to cherish every moment of life, from the sunrise to the amazingly starry nights.

At the top of Wheeler Peak 
However, my trip to the Great Basin would not have been nearly as meaningful if I did not have anyone to cherish these moments with.  It may seem kind of crazy to go backpacking, sleep on the ground, and climb every mountain in sight with my pregnant wife.  However, my wife and I find that we actually grow closer together on these trips.  We challenge one another to appreciate everything around us, and we take time to give thanks for the gifts we have in this world.  I know I would not grow nearly as much if she was not there…

This week we are beginning a new sermon series called Iron sharpens Iron that is based on the book of Proverbs.  The series will ask us if we are taking time to be in relationship with others.  Sometimes this world gets pretty crazy, and it can become hard to really build relationships beyond simply becoming Facebook friends.  We need people in our lives that will challenge us, motivate us, and hold us accountable.  Are we taking time to build these kinds of relationships?  This week I hope we can take time to appreciate the relationships we have, but I hope we can also build new relationships that will challenge us to become better people every day!


Pastor Brian
Nevada's only glacier... just a dirty pile of snow by the end of
September, but still pretty neat!

In just about a couple of hours Kira would be at the
high point of the mountain in front of her :)