Thursday, January 23, 2020

Spiritual Growth

Have you ever thought about your Spiritual Growth?

What was your life like ten years ago?  How about twenty years ago?  Fifty years ago?  What kind of person were you at that time?  If you had to live those days again, would you make the same choices?  What have you learned?  How have you grown? 

Personally, I was just finishing my seminary studies ten years ago, and I had no idea where I would be heading.  I can think of so many mistakes that I was about to make.  I experienced success and failure as well as joy and sorrow.  Today, I have grown into a very different person, and the greatest lessons I’ve learned were not taught in school.  I’ve had to learn these lessons in the moments of vulnerability, failure, and sometimes from the tragedies.
Image result for making all things new 
This week we are talking about spiritual growth at Community Lutheran, and I know there are times I don’t want to go through the real pain of growth… I want to jump straight to the “happily ever after” part.  However, our scriptures teach us that each day we live is an opportunity to grow a little more, even if there is some pain involved... 

We are not the same people we once were, and we will not be the same people a year from now.  We will face joy and pain, but God goes with us through it all.  Whatever happens, I hope we can experience vulnerability and failure and know that it is okay.  We are not supposed to be perfect.  We are to try and live with open hearts so that our spirit can learn to soar.



Thursday, January 16, 2020

Searching for Love and Justice

Do you see hate in the world?  Have you ever witnessed someone being bullied or harassed for the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or any host of other factors?

In the book of Genesis, it says that the inclination of every human heart is evil, and I can see the real damage that hatred is doing in our world today.  Now this doesn’t mean that people are evil.  In fact, the Bible says all people are created good, and we always have the capacity to see the good in others.  However, I think we are inclined to put too much emphasis on our fear and shame, and that can cause us to find evil in what God created to be good. 

Earlier this week, my wife and I were having a conversation about the state of the world.  We were talking about injustice, violence, and other problems that seemed almost too big to handle. 

Interestingly, our four year old son heard us talking, and I guess he noticed a sense of hopelessness in our voices.  Now, I don’t think he really understood everything, but he noticed that we were overwhelmed.  So in the midst of our conversation, he stopped us to say, “Mommy!  Daddy!  Wait!  When I become an astronaut, I can use my spaceship and fly you guys into space and you won’t have to worry about any of this stuff!”

I have to admit that comment warmed my heart and it certainly made me smile… However, I am also reminded that as Christians we are a part of the world, and as generous as my son’s offer was, I can’t just run away when things get tough… (Or fly off in a spaceship as the case may be...J)  God does not see this world as hopeless!  God sees all of us as his hands and feet, and we are called to be the voice of hope! 

Jesus came to this world to bring about real change, and Christ believed we would do greater things than he ever did.  This doesn’t mean we have to take on the world single handedly.  In the book of Micah chapter 6 verse 8, it says:

The Lord has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

God is with us in the simple acts of love and justice that we can all do.  Today, as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I hope we can all believe that we have a role to play in sharing God’s love and justice with the world.  God believes in each of us and God never ceases to call us into action. 


Brian Ward

Thursday, January 2, 2020

A season of light

What does Epiphany mean to you?

I don’t use the word Epiphany too much in my everyday conversations, but is important to the church.  The Epiphany of our Lord is a day on the church calendar that is dedicated to the idea that God is revealed in real ways to each and every one of us.  God breaks into our lives, and we all have an opportunity to open our hearts to the life changing work of Christ.

Personally, I have been taking some time to think about my own Epiphanies.  I remember the first summer I worked at a Christian Camp in Colorado.  That mountain top experience of God forever changed my life.  I met a community of people who welcomed me and my gifts, and I will always look back on those days with awe and wonder.  I had a chance to share so many beautiful sunrises and sunsets with others.  I had countless opportunities to share and receive grace, and I saw Christ come alive.

I think it is important to continue to go out of our way to seek these moments of awe and wonder.  Last week I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with the youth group.  We traveled to Mexico to build a home for a young couple and their one year old son.  Before the trip, I was honestly feeling a little exhausted.  We had just finished Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services, and I had to pack up and be ready to leave at 5:30am on December 26th.  We ran into snow and road closures along the way, and part of me was feeling a little burnt out.  However, when we arrived in Mexico, we had this wonderful time with the family.  Although my Spanish is more than a little rusty, we could still share so much joy together.  It reminded me of Jesus leading his disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, where the non-Jewish people lived.  Jesus wanted to take his disciples outside of their comfort zone to experience God in new ways. 

I have come to look forward to mission trips.  They open my heart in ways that is hard to explain, but they also show me the power of the Holy Spirit.  Today, I pray for hearts to be opened.  I hope we can all look at the world in a new way and see that God’s Light is shining on us!


Brian Ward

Working together to build a house...

The family and their new home