Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Giving Thanks and Preparing for Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I love this time of year and all the excitement that surrounds it.  As a church, we are also diving into the season of Advent next week.  The holidays are here!  Christmas is coming!  Are you in the Spirit?

I guess there is somebody else who knows how to pack their
bike better than me :)
Earlier this week, I wound up shopping and running a bunch of errands.  For some people, shopping gets them into the Holiday Spirit… That has never been the case for me.  I went out early with a list of groceries and supplies I needed for the house.  A good shopper probably could have gotten them all in a couple hours, but I had no such luck.  I spent hours wandering around in Costco alone, and I was unable to find anything I was looking for.  I wound up just standing in a bunch of long lines and getting a bunch of stuff I didn't need.  Of course, I had also ridden my bike to the store, so I had to figure out how to get all of that useless stuff back to the house (By the way, I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to ride a bike to Costco, but that’s what I do…)  After that, I wound up going between Lowes and Home Depot looking for the best deals on the other supplies I needed.  At that point, I had my car, but I was still having issues.  Have you ever tried to fit a 3’ by 5’ piece of hardy board into a Toyota Corolla?  It’s kind of hard, and it makes for an interesting ride home… At the end of the day, I had acquired a bunch of things I didn't

need, I had probably found the worst deals in town, and I was not a happy camper.  It’s a great way to start off the holiday season, right?  I can’t wait to really start the holiday shopping…

Let's try and remember and give thanks for what this season
is all about
I know a lot of you are probably super excited for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  (I know a few of you who would never put the Christmas tree away if you had a choice!)  However, there are others who are struggling to get into the spirit.  All the shopping, people, and expectations can cause a lot of stress this time of year.  This week we are looking at the story of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah from the Gospel of Luke.   Elizabeth and her husband were very old.  Both of them seem to have long ago given up on any hope that their lives could ever change.  However, Elizabeth and Zechariah received news that they were becoming parents.  God’s good news was breaking into their lives.  Zechariah couldn't believe it.  Sometimes in the midst of everyday life, it’s hard to see God’s Spirit moving.  However, Elizabeth opened her heart to the good news.  Sometimes we all become set in our ways.  We doubt anything new can bring hope.  However, today’s scripture reminds all of us to have faith that God is doing something new.  I pray we can all find a new way to celebrate and Give Thanks for all that we have!



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sheep and Goats!

"He will separate the people one from another as a
shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" :)
Ok, so I have spent way too much time on this week’s blog post!  I have researched, questioned, and stayed up late thinking about it.  However, after all of that, I’m still not getting anywhere.  (It’s been pretty annoying!)  This week our scripture passage is once again from Matthew 25.  Jesus is telling his disciples that one day the Son of Man will return in all His glory.  On that day, Jesus says He will separate the people, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will take those at his right hand (the sheep) and welcome them into His kingdom.  However, to those on his left (the goats) he will say, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels!”

Umm… Yikes!

As much as I try and make sense of that, it’s just not working for me...  People have used this image of Jesus as a Judge to persecute and discriminate against all kind of individuals.  Other people have faced judgment from others their entire lives, and they may wonder if Christ will now condemn them too…  However, I wonder if we may be missing the point.  Throughout the Gospel, Jesus has tried to teach us that we are already His sheep.  There is nothing that can change that!  We are a part of His flock, and He loves us just as we are.  Yes, there are times when Jesus tells us we will get lost, or we will stray away from the fold.  However, we are His sheep, and we belong to Him. 

We are all just Sheep!  Let's live happily 
in the arms of our Shepherd!
It’s easy to spend our time focusing on the evil that is in the world.  However, the parable makes it clear that it is not up to us to judge.  It’s not our job to decide who is in and who is out.  Our job is just to be sheep.  We follow the shepherd, and we live out our faith.  Sure, we will get lost, but we have a shepherd who will always come back for us.  In the end, I think that is a message we all need to hear!


Pastor Brian

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cherishing our Gifts!

We met a the Jackaroo Ranch!  It's a Bed and Breakfast that is owned by some
of Kira's family members.  It is an amazing place!
Last weekend, both of Kira’s parents celebrated their birthdays.  Usually, it’s pretty hard for her whole family to get together, since everyone is spread out across the nation.  However, this year we all decided to make an effort to meet up, if only for a short time.  We met at a home near Wimberley, Texas – the hill country...  Much of Kira’s family still lives in that area, and it was a great place to get together.  I had never been to this particular place before, and I had no idea what it was going to be like, but I have to say, I was pretty impressed!  Just looking outside the door, we saw rolling hills, a beautiful river, and all kinds of animals.  I couldn't wait for my morning runs to go out and explore everything.  I ran close to 9 miles a day, and I had to force myself to turn around to make sure I made it back in time for breakfast.  I loved it!

However, the scenery was only a small part of the trip.  This was the first time in years so much of the family had the chance to get together.  It was also a chance to meet new people and celebrate together.  The only problem was the trip was too short.  It’s amazing how much we packed into that weekend!  Every day we were walking or running through the hills, exploring the nearby towns, playing games, sitting around a bonfire, and just laughing like crazy.  Of course, we also ate a ton of food!  We stayed up late, and we woke up early just to enjoy every moment together!  Kira and I came back from the trip totally exhausted, but we were also completely fulfilled at the same time!  Beautiful!

This week our Scripture passage is once again from Matthew 25.  This time we are looking at the Parable of the Talents.  This parable asks us if we are going to use all the gifts and treasures God has given us… or are we going to simply ignore and squander these gifts?  The trip to Texas helped me to give thanks for all the gifts that we have in this world.  I really hope and pray we can all take time to live life to the last drop.  May we always see the blessings around us, and may we take advantage of every second!

Peace and Blessings!


Another Picture of the Jackroo Ranch looking down toward the River

One of the many amazing meals that were prepared
while we were there!

While everyone one else was working hard I was busy breaking things
in the kitchen...
We filled this place with a lot of wonderful people and we will
take away so many memories!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Be Prepared!

Getting excited for the new baby!  It's a boy!
Well, it’s a boy!  That was the big news in our house this week!  Kira had an ultra sound and the doctor said everything looks great. However, just to make things a little more interesting, we had the doctor write the gender of the baby down and put that in an envelope.  Then we gave the envelope to a friend who would make us either a blue cake or a pink cake.;. Then we just had to throw a party, cut the cake, and enjoy the surprise... It's a boy!

Right now, everything is pretty amazing. However, there are times when reality sets in and I realize I have a lot to figure out in just a few short months.  It seems like every day my wife and I are reminded of something else that needs to get taken care of.  We’re excited, but we also wonder… are we prepared?

The scripture we are looking at this week is all about preparation. (Sometimes I feel like these verses were chosen just for me!)  We are reading from chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew, the parable of the 10 bridesmaids.  At the end of the story, Jesus warns everyone to Keep Awake, or Be Prepared!  I think this story is a good reminder for me, because it’s not just a parable about being prepared for all of these worldly things.  I think this parable is really asking us if we are prepared spiritually… God is offering us an amazing and abundant life.  We don’t want to miss out on opportunities that bring God’s grace, hope, and love into this world.  Being prepared spiritually is different than being prepared for daily living.  There are always things to worry about, and there will always be things that I will forget about and mess up on.  (Personally, I know I spend hours each day dwelling on these things…) However, I know I am being called to open my eyes to what truly matters.  I think that is what Christ is saying to me this week.  Yes, there is a lot of stuff to worry about, but I need to take time to see what is really important.  It is my hope and prayer that we would all take a little extra time to prepare for what really matters.  Can we take just a little more time this week to pray, open our hearts, and ponder what God is doing in this world?  God is offering us each so much more… if we just take the time to notice.


Pastor Brian