Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Conformation Retreat!

Exploring the Slot Canyons   :)
Last weekend, I traveled to Camp Lutherwood with the youth group.  I was one of the leaders for the conformation retreat.  Lutherwood is a beautiful camp located in between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.  Typically, Kira loves joining me as a leader on these trips.  However, we have a baby now, and at first, that raised too many questions… How would the baby handle camping?  Would he scream the whole time?  Would he get too cold at night?  Would he ruin the experience for the kids?  There was a lot to worry about, but at the last minute, we decided to give it a try.  It turned out to be an amazing trip!  There were mountains, canyons, long smelly car rides, and so much more!  Besides, when else were we going to have the chance to change a diaper at the bottom of a slot canyon?  (Imagine an exceptionally dirty diaper, a kicking and screaming child, and sand and rocks flying everywhere…)  It did take a little extra effort, but the kids were really the ones who made the trip incredible.  We really had 20 babysitters who were ready to help whenever we needed it.  The trip was rejuvenating for me, and I hope it was just as life giving for the kids.  It’s always powerful to watch a group of young people become united for God and for one another!

The conformation retreat was a great time for the kids to come together.  It was also a time for the kids to see God in new and exciting ways.  This week at Community we are starting a new sermon series on Prayer.  On the conformation retreat, I saw God answering prayers in so many surprising ways.  Today, I hope we can open our hearts and minds to listen for God.  There are new opportunities available to each one of us… if we just take the time to listen.



Bryce Canyon

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Do you have hope?

A few days ago, I met with a woman who asked for a pastoral visit.  She was not a church member, but she really needed help.  Her home was filled with trash, partially eaten food was lying around, and everything in her house seemed to be falling apart.  Anyway, this woman was also mentally ill.  She suffered from depression, anxiety, and a fear of all kinds of evil.  She didn’t believe God, or anyone else, could love her.  I desperately tried to share the Good News with her.  I tried to show her Christ’s love and proclaim God’s message, but it didn’t feel like I was getting through to her.  Instead, everything I said seemed to make her even more depressed… Not exactly a fun way to start the day.  By the time I got back to the church, I was feeling pretty burnt out.

There are times when it’s hard to have hope.  However, I believe God loves each and every one of us.  Even when we give up on God, God does not give up on us.  In our scripture lesson today, Jesus says we all need to share the Good News.  We have to work together, use one another’s gifts, and find ways to share God’s Love.  I need to remember, it’s not just up to me to save someone.  Jesus said we cannot do this all on our own.  It feels hopeless when we try.  We need each other in our walk with Christ.  I hope you can all share God’s Love this week, because this world needs each of you!



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Blessings of Life

On a normal day, the baby will wake me up between 4:30 and 5:30 am.  Kira does the night feedings, so I wake up early to change his diaper, do some chores around the house, and then I’ll pack him in his stroller for a run.  When I get home, Kira and I are in a rush to eat breakfast, get ready for work, and get the baby set for day care.  Although we have so much to be thankful for, it’s easy for life to turn into one big rat race.  We just rush from one thing to another.

At the end of the day, I usually head over to Hill and Dale to pick the kid up from day care.  Some days are exhausting, but nothing can beat the feeling I have when the baby’s eyes light up to see me.  He gurgles, smiles, squirms, and just recently, he started snorting for joy when I show up. (As a father, nothing makes me prouder than a snorting child!) There may be so many things in life that I ignore or rush through, but I am so grateful to have these moments. 

This week’s scripture passage says:

Jesus took a little child and put it among the disciples; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me’”

Today, I hope you all can find the joy of God’s Kingdom by welcoming others, or by being welcomed yourself.  Life is a blessing.  I hope we can open our eyes and appreciate the gifts of the Kingdom.



Oh, and in case your interested, I attached a video of the baby learning to snort... enjoy

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New Journeys... New Identities

The view I saw for hours on end... but at least there were
nice bike lanes :)
Last Monday, I hopped on my bicycle and peddled about 60 miles to Pahrump, NV…  It was a great way to spend my Labor Day!  I am going to be officiating at a wedding in Pahrump soon, and Kira and I wanted to scope it out.  Kira planned to meet me there around 11am, so I filled up my water bottles and took off around 7am.  It’s was a neat ride with a few thousand feet of climbing and a wild descent.  However, after you conquer the mountain pass, you still have to spin through about 35 miles of empty desert… That was probably the hardest part of the trip… It’s exhausting to look at endless miles of dirt!

Thankfully, I arrived safely, and I wound up having a great time!  I met a few other really neat people, and I also felt like I accomplished something… Pretty fun!

If I put my silly adventures aside, my bike ride also gave me plenty of time to think.  There are so many people today who are on a much harder journey.  They are leaving their friends, family, and homes behind to search for a better place.  They are fleeing violence, terrorism, and destruction, and even if they reach their intended destinations, it seems unlikely their problems will go away.  These people are struggling to find new hope and new identities.

This week, in our scripture lesson, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  The world was a dark place for the disciples, and it can be a dark place for us too.  However, we can all find hope in Christ.  Do you believe God’s Grace is more powerful than war, ISIS, or any other evil?  Can love overpower bombs and bullets?  We are all God’s children.  That is our identity.  I pray today that wherever you are on your journey you may discover the power of grace.



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Power of Words Part II

Laundry can be a real problem
when you have a baby :)
A few days ago my washing machine broke down.  (This is a big deal when you have a 5 month old baby who likes to vomit over everything!) I felt like I didn’t have time to deal with this issue, and I was worried about how much money it was going to set me back.  Overall, I think it left me in a pretty sour mood.  However, I had a conversation with my dad on the phone, and that conversation changed everything.  My dad didn’t tell me how to fix the washer or anything like that, but he didn’t have to.  He basically just said he thought I could handle it.  He believed I could do what it took to fix the problem or resolve the issue.  Sometimes hearing words of faith is all I need.  I wound up feeling energized.  I diagnosed the problem, replaced the motor coupler, and now Kira and I are back in business!
Cedar offered some additional encouragement
while the washer was being fixed. 

Last week, our Bible lesson talked about how the words of the Pharisees could bring destruction.  This week we are hearing how the words Christ offer us new life.  The Bible tells us that we all have God’s Spirit inside of us… Do you believe your words have the power to bring life to this world?

Then looking up to heaven, Jesus sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
-Mark 7:34-35

I believe all our words can bring comfort and hope.  We can speak words of life, grace, acceptance, and love.  Perhaps those words are just as powerful as anything else.