Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Imperfect

This is a busy time of year.  I have church services to prepare, people to see, and presents to buy.  All in all, I spend a lot of time trying to make Christmas perfect…  However, I was drawn to the Christmas story this week, not as a story of perfection, but as a story of people who found hope in imperfection…
Mary became pregnant before she was legally married.  In that day and age, this was a crime Mary could have been killed for, but she found hope instead.  Mary and Joseph were also ordered to go to Bethlehem to be registered for a tax to the emperor.  Soon after this, the young family had to flee to Egypt to escape a jealous and insane King who ruled over Israel.  This was a terribly imperfect time, but somehow hope showed up.
A young family trying to find hope in a crazy world...
As I look at the world today, I see so much pain in places like Syria.  Wars seem to go on without ceasing, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for peace.  However, I am drawn back to that first Christmas story.  We are called to believe God is with us – even when things don’t go our way.  Today, it is my prayer that you find hope.  May you believe God loves you, and may you know that God goes with you wherever your journey takes you. 


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas Joy!

There is something I love about this time of year.  I love the lights. I love the people, and I love the spirit that’s in the air.  I am also experiencing the joy of sharing this season with my own child.  My little boy is just 1 year old, but he is already sensing the excitement.  When we walk into our living room, he will rush over to the outlet try to plug in the Christmas Tree.  (I understand having a child rush to a power outlet may not be a good thing, but it’s fun to see the enthusiasm.) Seeing Christmas through his eyes has helped renew my excitement for the season.  It is wonderful seeing people share love and grace as we live out the Good News. 

Where are you at this season?  Are you living with a childlike faith... or are you living in a time of brokenness or loss?  It is my hope that you would believe in Love this season.  May you understand that you are not alone, and may you be a light in the darkness.



Thursday, December 1, 2016


How much time do you think you spend each day complaining?  Personally, I know I can devote way too much energy into grumbling about other people or events, and looking back, that’s not really how I want to spend my time.  Last week, we celebrated Thanksgiving.  My wife and I decided to take a quick trip up to see some of her family who live near Lake Tahoe.  It was an amazing trip, but it took a lot of work to make it happen.  We had to deal with a rambunctious little boy on the 8 hour drive to the lake.  We had to scrounge up all the snow gear for a 1 year old, and we had to convince our little guy to actually keep the gear on once he was outside.  All of that could have easily turned into something to complain about.  However when we saw the joy in our son’s eyes, it all became worth it.  It reminded me what a gift it is to live life with a childlike hope and faith. 
When you don't have a sled the lid of a trash can works great! 

I have so much to be grateful for.  Last week at Community Lutheran Church, we handed out Blessing Jars that were made by the youth group.  We each have opportunities to cherish our blessings every day.  If we’re not careful, it can become easy to spend all our time complaining about some pretty minor stuff.  However, you are blessed to be who you are!  I hope we can call take a little time each day to appreciate that!



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What really matters...

Well, it has been a little over a week since the election… Are you seeing any less drama?  I thought the last campaign season was particularly brutal.  There was a lot of anger on both sides, and I’m worried it’s not going to be easy for people to come together after that.

This week we are celebrating Christ the King Sunday.  This is a time for us to remember that Christ is our Savior.  There may be real issues that divide us, but we have a King who loves us and even gave his life for us.  That is what is truly important!  Jesus showed a deep love for all people, and that is not something we should be willing to ignore when we encounter our neighbors.  Christ saw beyond our differences, and He stepped into our lives.  Today, I hope we can all come together to give thanks for what Christ has done for us.  May we know and feel the love of God each and every day!



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Holding on to Love

Sick babies are hard…  Kira and I were getting to the point where we thought we had this parenting thing figured out.  We were able to put our toddler in his crib and he would sleep great.  He was following directions, eating his dinner, and smashing dirt into his hair. (Ok, so he’s not perfect, but he was doing pretty good for a one year old!)

Anyway, things started to fall apart last week.  His nose became congested, he couldn’t breathe very well, and he ran a low fever.  It was hard to watch him go through such a miserable experience.  Instead of seeing his happy and energetic personality, he just cried for help.  The only thing he wanted to do was hold on to us and feel loved...

As we get older, we can learn how to deal with pain, and we can actually put up with quite a bit.  However, sometimes our trials can get the best of us. When the world falls apart, the only thing we can do is trust in a greater love.  Today, I hope that you can trust in that love. God has called you by name, and God believes in you.  Let's let go of all things that tear us apart, and let's hold on to God's Love.  



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cherishing the Saints!

This is a great time of year for people to visit Las Vegas.  My wife’s parents were in town recently, and we had a blast celebrating Halloween and the church’s Fall Family Festival with them.  Grandma even made a special costume for our little boy.  It was amazing to see our child light up with excitement around all the wonderful people and activities.  It reminds me of how blessed I am.  My wife and I have amazing families, and we are a part of a wonderful church that continues to support us in powerful ways!

This week we are celebrating All Saints Day.  This is a celebration that cherishes all the people who have given us hope over the years.  These are the individuals who have shown us love and grace.  Over the years, there are times when we have to watch these beloved people face illness and death.  However, in today’s scripture text we are given a promise.  We are told that whether we live or die we belong to Christ.  We are loved, and God calls us each forgiven Saints of the Kingdom!  Today, I hope we can all take time to cherish the people around us who have given us the grace to live in God’s World.



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Choose Joy

I recently had an opportunity to talk with a woman who was filled with joy.  She had this wonderful enthusiasm for life, and I was blessed to be in her presence.  However, as I spoke with her, I started to wonder where all her joy came from.  She had faced a number of very grim moments in her life, and her difficulties seemed to follow her wherever she went.  Nevertheless, in her darkest times, she always found ways to connect with other people.  She made choices to volunteer and meet others in the community.  This has not always been easy, but it has created a wonderful network of friends.  These people were imperfect, but they stood by each other.  They took time to serve.  They took time to love, and they took time to find joy even in moments of sorrow…

Her story was a reminder for me that joy doesn’t come from being perfect.  Perfection would certainly be nice, but joy is a choice that we can make in the face of our difficulties.  If we take time to see love and grace in other people, I believe we will find joy. 

This week we are celebrating the Reformation of the Church.  The Reformation celebrates God’s Spirit working, through the darkness, to bring hope.  It is my prayer that we would all allow God’s Spirit to move in us.  May we be drawn into caring relationships that are filled with hope.  May we also choose joy wherever life may lead us…



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Brokenness, Denial, and Grace

How do you handle negative feedback?  I have a very public profession, so there are always opportunities for people to critique me, and it is not always easy to hear.  I know I’m unable to please everyone, but there are times when I will really be convicted.  Sometimes, I’ll realize I have neglected a relationship.  Other times someone will let me know that my words or actions have hurt someone in need.  I am guilty of these kinds of things all the time, and unfortunately, my first response can be denial.  I don’t want to admit that I’m imperfect.  I don’t want to admit my own brokenness or failures, and I can spend an inordinate amount of time trying to justify myself…

In our Bible reading today, Jesus tells us a story of a religious leader who did everything he could to prove he was perfect.  He only listened to the voices of those who told him he had no flaws.  Personally, I think it sounds great to ignore anyone who criticizes us!  However, Jesus tells another story of a man who made some terrible choices that ruined him.  In accepting his failures, he began to see a new path to life.  Understanding his own brokenness was the first step to accepting God’s Grace. 

Today, I hope we can find someone that offers us loving guidance.  I hope we can hear their words, and I hope we can see our moments of brokenness as opportunities to open our eyes to new life!



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A helping hand...

This is not our child, but this kid certainly
has the same spirit of helping... :)
 Recently, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to dig a few holes in my backyard.  Our irrigation system has been leaking for quite a while, and it’s time to start the repair process.  I feel like every time a line is fixed, I will notice two more leaks that need attention.  Sometimes, it feels like the whole system is a flawed mess that will never make any sense.  It can be a time consuming and muddy job, but the hardest part is simply trying to contain our 1 year old child who really wants to “help.”

I don’t think it would be possible to get some of these big chores done if we didn’t have real help.  My parents have been in town recently, and they are always ready to lend a hand.  It’s been wonderful to get so much help, but more than anything else, it’s been great to have family in town.  It’s great to see our little boy start to feel how deeply he is loved.  There is a lot in the world that doesn’t make sense, but if we focus on love, I think we will be centered on what truly matters!



Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sharing a Prayer

Living with a one year old is amazing, but it’s also exhausting.  Every day this little guy demands a lot of our time, and the moment we stop paying attention to him he winds up climbing on the kitchen table and smashing food into his hair… Exhausting! 

Earlier this week, Kira and I were attempting to finish all our chores after work, and the baby was being extra stubborn.  We put some food in front of the kid to keep him occupied, but when we looked over he had his hands folded.  He was looking at us wondering when we were going to pray. 

We’ve tried to teach him to pray from a young age, and for a long time it didn’t seem like he cared much.  It’s still hard to say how much he really understands, but he just started to bow his head, fold his hands, and shout “Amen!” and throw all his food into the air. (Ok, he doesn’t have it all figured out, but it’s still pretty cool…)  Seeing our child sitting down ready to pray was a reminder of how important prayer really is.  It doesn’t matter if life is crazy, exhausting, or just wearing you down.  Prayer has value. 

Today, I hope you can all believe in the power of prayer.  May you all find life, peace, and grace wherever you may go.



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Open hearts...

Last Wednesday morning, I was outside as the sun was rising.  It was really an incredible sight.  The clouds and rain showers were just breaking up, and the sky was becoming this brilliant shade of orange.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get much better, a rainbow appeared in the sky.  It was one of those moments I felt like I had to share.  I ran inside the house and grabbed Kira and the baby so we could all see it together.  We took it in, and then after a few minutes, it all faded away…

Amazing Fall Colors near Cedar City on the way to the
Conformation Retreat!
I love sharing new experiences with other people.  Last weekend, I also had the opportunity to go on a conformation retreat with some of the youth from our church.  I have gone on a lot of trips like this in the past, and I love them every time.  Each trip offers new opportunities to share love and grace with others.  It’s incredible.

This week the scripture passage we are going to look at comes from the book of Habakkuk.  This book is not very well known, but it’s pretty important.  In the book, God says He is going to do something new.  He wants the people to wake up and see the world differently.  The journey God takes the people on is not an easy one, but in the end, God offers hope.  Together, the God’s people share moments of heartache, but they also find hope.  That is my prayer for each of us.  May we find a community that opens our hearts to something new every day!



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hope over Despair

I heard a news story recently on NPR about a man named Yisrael Kristal.  At 113 years, Yisrael is currently the world’s oldest man. (There are several women who are older than he is, but he is the oldest male…) I was fascinated by this man’s story.  He was born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1903, and he established a successful candy factory when he was a young man. (Does that say something?… the world’s oldest man spent his life making candy!)

Yisrael looks pretty good for being the world's oldest man!!
Although he had a lot of success when he was young, he also faced more than his fair share of trials.  He was a boy when World War I took place, and during World War II, his family was placed in a ghetto and eventually moved to Auschwitz.  He endured forced labor, and he had to witness the death of his wife and children.  In the midst of these terrible times, Yisrael says he never lost his faith.  He clung on to his belief that God was with him.  He certainly spent time mourning all that he had lost, but he also believed God would bring new life to the world.  When the camp was finally liberated, he was able to find new hope for himself as well.  He was eventually remarried, and he rebuilt his candy factory. 

To this day, he still refuses to give in to despair.  He believes God is always doing something new.  As if to emphasize that point, on Yisrael 113th birthday he decided to celebrate his bar mitzvah.  Typically a Jewish man will celebrate his bar mitzvah at age 13, but Yisrael’s family was dealing with World War I at that time.  He decided that his 113th birthday would be a great time to celebrate his faith in a new way!  

This week we are hearing a Bible story of a woman who felt God’s calling even though she faced plenty of trials.  In all she faced, she never fully gave into despair either.  It is my prayer that we could believe that God is still bringing something new to each of our lives.  May we believe there is always more to our story, and may God continue to do amazing things in us!



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Courageously Called!

Do you remember what it feels like to start the first day of a new job?  I’ve had several different jobs in my life.  When I was a kid, I mowed lawns.  In college, I worked in a chemistry lab.  Today, I am a pastor.   For me, it didn’t matter what job I had, the first day was always a roller coaster.  Without any experience, it was hard to know if I was if I was in over my head or not.  I would anxiously fuss over the smallest details.  In those moments, it was pretty easy to question myself.  I wondered if I was good enough, and I wondered if I really deserved the position I was in…
Personally, I know I made it through those difficult moments, because I was supported by some pretty incredible people.  I had mentors who showed me a ton of mercy and grace.  They allowed me to make mistakes, and they didn’t let me give up on myself.  They knew I wouldn’t be perfect, but they trusted me to learn and figure things out.  Without good mentors, I don’t believe I would have made it anywhere.

In our scripture passage this week, we are looking at a man named Timothy.  Timothy was a young man who was entrusted with a great responsibility.  In some ways, he seems to have been in over his head, but he had a great mentor who pushed him to become something incredible.  Today, I pray that you would be forever encouraged on your journey.  I also pray that you would take a little bit of extra time to encourage someone who is in need around you.  



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Believing in God's Call...

Ten years ago, I was a youth director at a small inner city church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I loved the people at that church, and I loved those kids.  I was totally changed by my experience there.  However, I have to say that I am haunted by my time there as well.  I remember one girl who used to be a regular at our church events.  She was incredibly intelligent, but she also faced a very difficult reality.  One night she showed up to church early.  She had just been beaten up by other kids, and she was dealing with a terrible family situation.  She felt the only place she could go was the church.  She was furious at the people who beat her up, she was mad at her own family, and I think she was also feeling embarrassed and alone.  I tried to offer her a of sign of hope.  I tried to tell her that love does exist in the world, and in that moment, I thought we had a break through… However a few days later, I wasn’t so sure.  She was right back to her world of rejection and anger. 

Leaving my job at that church was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.  I felt like those kids had so much potential, and it hadn’t been realized yet.  The girl who I mentioned earlier was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.  She took to calculus and other difficult concepts incredibly fast.  However, she was surrounded by other voices calling her to give up on school and live for things like sex, drugs, and power.  Seeing people like her fall into a terrible spiral of destruction wrecked me.  It broke my heart when I felt like there was nothing I could do to save them.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of stories like that.  There are so many kids from that church, as well as other people I’ve met over the years, who don’t believe they have any other calling other than the hurt and the pain that’s in front of them.

I do hope that somewhere along the way small gestures of love can make an impact on the world.  I believe every person in this world has a calling that can make this world a better place.  This week, our scripture passage will share the story of a woman living in terrible circumstances who listened to a voice of grace. It is my prayer that we could all believe that we are all chosen and loved.  You are important to this world, and you will never be unworthy of love!



Wednesday, August 31, 2016


I love the mornings!  I vaguely remember a time when I used to try and sleep in whenever I could, but those days are long gone… I need to be awake to take care of the baby, get a run in, and just enjoy the beautiful Las Vegas weather.  (Ok, so it’s still 80 degrees most mornings, but this feels amazing after a summer in Vegas!)  The mornings are my time to reset.  It’s easy to appreciate the beauty of the world as the sun starts to shine on the mountains.  I love it.  It’s also a wonderful time to connect with other people.  I usually run down to the Pittman wash trail, and I see a number of the same people out there every day.  After a while, I have gotten to know some of those people.  We smile, say hello, and sometimes we have gotten into really neat conversations.  I didn’t know any of these people before, but it’s wonderful to enjoy the beauty of creation with them…

We are starting a new sermon series this week, and we are taking a look at what it means to be Called.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are going through, we are all called and claimed by Christ.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been given a label by the world… You are valuable.  Personally, I love taking time in the morning to center myself and find place in the world.  I hope this week you would all find a time to truly believe you are all beloved children of God.



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Noticing the Flowers...

Ever since my wife and I came back from our hiking trip, our son has been obsessed with finding flowers and pointing them out.  I think this is pretty cool.  I love seeing him appreciate all kinds of beauty in the world.  However, I have to admit that I only taught him about flowers to get him out of my hair while I was setting up camp.  Each night Kira and I had a ton of chores to do, and honestly, one year old babies can kind of get in the way.  Our child’s favorite hobby was throwing handfuls of dirt into our tent, cooking pot, or his own mouth… Although we all wound up eating our fair share of dirt, we needed a distraction to slow him down a little bit. 

To a One Year Old this is an incredibly beautiful patch of
wildflowers!  Can you see the beauty?
I think Kira and I were both kind of astounded by how interested he was in searching for flowers!  He couldn’t wait to find the next one.  He frequently noticed flowers that we didn’t, and he took note of flowers that had already died.  It didn’t matter what shape they were in; he was just excited to notice the beauty in creation! 

I think there are so many aspects of life that we all fail to take notice of.  We can spend our lives searching the internet for something worthy of our attention.  I think Christ teaches us that there is something incredible in our world.  Let’s take time to appreciate God’s love, grace, and peace.  Let’s appreciate the gifts we have, and let’s share them with the enthusiasm of a child!



A few other wildflowers that I'm glad we could all appreciate!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Journey...

Part of my weekly routine involves visiting people in hospitals.  It is a pretty important part of my week, and although nobody really wants to be in a hospital, it’s a time I actually look forward to as a chance to connect with others.    

However, in spite of the fact that I am regularly in and out of the hospitals, I can still manage to get pretty lost trying to see a patient…  Now, I’m not always terrible with directions.  I can figure out how to scramble out of some pretty wild mountain ranges, but my intuition seems to be completely off when it comes to hospital layout.  I am forever finding myself in the wrong building, tower, or floor.  Earlier this week, I was trying to visit a member, and I thought I knew my way around this hospital… I didn’t!  I had to return to the info desk three times for directions! (Now this wasn’t all my fault.  Different people had told me go different directions, and I was beginning to think nobody knew their way around the place.) I finally arrived, but I was kind of annoyed with the whole process!  As I was heading back to church, I started thinking about all the time I had wasted and everything else I should have been accomplishing.  However, I also started thinking about this week’s scripture passage.  Throughout the Bible, Jesus is always on his way to help people.  He is always being called to heal, teach, or comfort those in need.  However, in spite of always needing to be somewhere, Jesus will always take time to notice the needs of those around him.  If I were a disciple, I probably would have been pretty annoyed with Jesus.  He was forever getting distracted.  I always want to be somewhere, and Jesus was never too busy to stop and notice the needs of those around him.

I wonder how my day would change if I started to appreciate life as a journey?  What if we all started to notice the people around us?  Maybe we are called to experience the journey as much as we are the destination.  That is my prayer this week.  May we take the time to notice the people around us, and may we start to share God’s Love in every moment we are given.



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ruby Crest Trail

A week ago, my family took a vacation to the Ruby Mountains in Northern Nevada.  It was an amazing trip.  With all the waterfalls, lakes, and wildflowers, we constantly had to remind ourselves that we were still in Nevada!  The highlight of the trip was conquering our first backpacking trip with the baby.  Kira and I had gone backpacking before, but it changes the game entirely when you bring a baby along with you.

The trip I had in mind was the Ruby Crest Trail.  It is approximately 43 miles and you traverse the ridgeline of the Mountains.  I had wanted to complete this hike for a while, but at first we thought it would be impossible with a baby.  You have to filter your own water, make your own campsites, and carry everything on your backs.  That’s hard enough when you don’t have to deal with a kid.  However, we practiced camping and hiking around Las Vegas, and we decided we could make it work.  We had to bring quite a few more supplies. (Including the “kitchen sink” to wash diapers in.) At times, we wondered if we were totally crazy.  There was a moment when Kira and I were really trying to get to sleep, but the kid just wanted to run and scream around our small tent…  What were we thinking? 

However, it was so much fun to watch our child light up when he saw the lakes and rivers.  He delighted in the wildflowers, and he wanted to explore everything.  One reason we decided to go through so much effort on this trip was to forget all the labels the outside world had given us.  By necessity, we couldn’t be on our phones, and we couldn’t listen to outside voices.  We simply had to appreciate each other and stand in wonder at creation.  It is my prayer that we would each take a moment to let go of what the world says and listen to God.  I hope we can all hear the one voice that tells us that we are all Children of God!



Dinner Time!

Spending a lot of time washing Diapers

Can you see the Mountain Goats?

If you really want to see all our pics you can check out:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

VBS - Cave Quest

VBS is back again!  It’s the end of July, and that means it time for Vacation Bible School at Community Lutheran Church!  I love this week.  It takes a lot of extra energy and effort, but it really is amazing to see so many kids excited about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.  These kids could be doing so many other things, but they have chosen to be here, learning about Jesus and sharing His Love. 

It is my prayer that everyone would take a little extra time to share God’s Love this week.  If we take that extra effort and invest in His Love, I believe we will see God’s Kingdom. 

Shine On!!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Open Heart...

“One of the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’”
-Luke 11:1

Learning to hike!  This guy made it to the top
of Mt. Charleston
There are so many things a 1 year old child needs to learn.  Everyday my wife and I try to teach our son something new.  He is learning new words, better manners, and how to climb mountains… :) It’s so much fun to watch him grow, and it’s even more amazing to watch him soak up all this knowledge like a sponge.  He can now “read” along with us in some of his favorite books. He calls us by name, and he is learning to climb things all too fast!  (Unfortunately, I spend more time teaching him to how to scramble up dirt piles instead of teaching him good manners… Ah well!)

Not as great when learning manners.
More than anything else, we try to teach our child to know that he is loved.  We want him to know that there is love in this world.  It does not matter where he goes or what he does… there is love, and that love has power.  If he can understand that, I believe he will be all right.  I think love will encourage him to grow, and it will make him a better person.  Therefore, Kira and I take time to love him, and we take time to pray with him.  We want him to be deeply connected to God’s Love.

Sometimes it is hard to read the news and see all the anger in the world.  It is hard to watch good people become so divisive and angry.  This week, I hope we can all have the spirit of a child, the spirit of a person who does not have all the answers but is hungry to learn.  In our scripture passage for the week, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray.  They don’t pretend to know everything.  Instead, they come before Christ with an open heart.  Jesus responds to them, by inviting them into a prayer of love.  We have a Father in Heaven who loves us and cares for us.  Jesus invites us into a relationship with God through prayer.  Perhaps if we can all open our hearts and minds to prayer, we can take a step toward God’s Kingdom and find a little hope in this sometimes dark world.



Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Why are we so angry?
Ok, let’s start with a tough question… Who was the last person you were really mad at?  I can get upset at other drivers who cut me off or with people who aren’t behaving in a way I think is normal.  Opening up the newspaper, it’s easy to become angry when I hear about tragedies and injustices taking place in the world.  However, if I’m honest, there are a number of occasions when I will become angry over the smallest things.  Have any of you ever been in a terrible fight with a loved one?  You may be so mad at them in one moment, but then maybe you have lunch, and you realize you were just hungry…  That may be a silly example, but I think it happens all the time!  So often, we lash out against the people who mean the most to us.  Many times we don’t even have an issue with them; deep down, we really just have our own unresolved issues.  If we can’t talk about these things, and figure out where our anger is coming from, I think it can lead to all kinds of terrible tragedies in our society. 

This week, we are looking at a Bible story about two people who were each called by Christ.  However, instead of building the Kingdom, they wind up lashing out against each other.  It’s sad, but I think it’s all too familiar.  Our society is so divided right now.  We love to focus on our neighbors faults, instead of utilizing their gifts.  Jesus invites us to take time to appreciate one another.  What would the world look like if we offered a Christ-like love to the world instead of our judgments?  I pray we might all find time to look into our own soul.  May we see our own callings and feel God’s love.  Let’s let go of the pointless hatred, and let’s start clinging to Christ and His sense of Justice and Love.