October 2022

Greetings in Christ!

Happy October! I’m sure you have noticed that the leaves are starting to change color and there is a chill in the air. The smell of burning leaves and wood smoke will soon permeate our neighborhoods. No other time of the year do I think more about the changes of season than Autumn. It reminds me of Ecclesiastes chapter three. It begins, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Of course, now I’m going to have the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” in my head the rest of the day, but that’s ok.

And so the scripture goes on with a list. I’ll name a few. “A time to be born, a time to die. A time for love, a time for hate. A time to scatter stones, a time to gather stones together. A time to kill, a time to heal. A time for war, a time for peace.” While reading this scripture and these dual statements, I can’t help but ask, is there really a time for hate, killing, and war? I think of something I’ve said to our kid more than once. It’s never ok to hit someone! If I mean that on such a seemingly small level, I have to also believe that it’s not ok for those larger versions of hitting.

But then, I think of what Jesus said more than once. In John 16, he said, “In this world we will have       trouble…” and also Luke 17, “Things that cause people to stumble are sure to come…”. So what we can take from this is, it’s never ok to kill or hate. But in this world, at least right now, hate will happen, war will happen. But we can take heart, Jesus said, I have overcome the world! And like the scripture, (and the song) says, there is a time for peace, and it will come again. Maybe someday, we will all learn to get along in this crazy world.

Right now, you may be experiencing some sort of trouble. You may be in pain, whether physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. You may be experiencing a hard time financially. Or maybe there is a bad situation where it feels like it will never end. It will. Peace in your life will come again. In the meantime, I pray you will open the Bible and seek the comforting words of Jesus when he said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” So I encourage you to keep seeking, and you will find what Jesus truly means when he says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” 

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

September, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

I pray that the month of September is off to a good start for all of you. What do we think of in September? Well, besides somehow becoming the beginning of Pumpkin Spice Season, it’s the time kids are back in school and when we also celebrate Labor Day.

I wanted to talk about Labor Day for a moment. It was made official on June 28, 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed it into law. It has a very interesting history of how it came about and I recommend reading about it. Honoring the American worker and giving them a day of rest, reminds me of something Jesus said in Matthew chapter 11.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Like the harsh demand early Industrial Revolution Business had for their workers,  the Israelites had so many laws and demands upon them. To break these would mean certain punishments, banishment, or even death. When Jesus said this, he was excusing these harsh demands upon the people, and I believe he was also excusing the harsh demands we put upon ourselves.

In our lives, there seems to be a demand for us to be perfect in so many ways. We can feel a certain amount of guilt because of some things we did or didn’t do. We feel we don’t live up to the world’s standard of how to be a good Christian. We feel the weight of the society’s judgement. But Jesus said, Come to me all you who are weary…and I will give you rest. He didn’t say, Come to me so I can whip you into shape as to what a good Christian is supposed to look like.

So on Labor Day this year, or any day of rest, let us remember that we don’t have to be perfect. We can rest in the fact that Jesus came and saved us, and we reflect on his teachings. We take on the yoke of the Lord, which is light, and do the best that we can. You may remember the quote, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” May it be so will all of you!

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

August 2022

There’s a saying in this part of the country. If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes. It’s funny because it’s true. Although, it does seem like during this past month there have only been two temperatures. Hot and humid! I know summer is many peoples favorite season because of all of the activities available like boating, fishing, gardening, and front porch sitting (my favorite).

Sometimes we get sad when the summer season starts to come to a close and I think August is when that starts to get in our minds. School will be starting and September is right around the corner, which means fall is also coming soon. It’s important to remember the importance of season changes and find the appreciation for all of them. They really can be a blessing.

There is a big change in the weather in our family over the past couple of months. Some good and some bad. As many of you know, I lost my sister to liver failure recently. But we also found out that we are going to be grandparents for the first time. Also, our daughter is getting married. Plus, our daughter, Mary, is going to be going to college and moving an almost two hours away, which is bittersweet.

All of these changes, mostly good, some bad. The changes are going to be different. And this is why we rely on God. I think of the story in the bible where Jesus and the disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee. There’s a terrible storm and the boat they are in seems like it’s going to capsize and the disciples are fearing for their lives, and all the while, Jesus is asleep. And they call out to him, Lord, don’t you care if we drown?! And Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the waves…and he calmed the storm. And then he asked…where is your faith?

We all misplace our faith sometimes. You might say we can be fair-weather friends to our faith, but it’s ok to call out to him. He wants us to rely on Him. So, let us try to turn our situations over to the Lord because no storm that we have to face can be bigger than God!  Have a great month, whatever the weather may be!

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

July, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

July is the month we celebrate our freedom in this country. What do we think of when we think of the word freedom? We might think of flags flying, patriotic songs, parades, the declaration of independence, and the souls who gave their lives that we can live free here in the U.S. One of my favorite  movies is an old one by Frank Capra called Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. One of my favorite scenes is when Jefferson Smith says, “Liberty is too precious to be buried in books. People should hold it up in front of them every day of their lives and say…I’m free….to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn’t do that, but I can…..and my children will.”

So, what comes to mind when we think about freedom from a spiritual point of view? For many people, they can look back during their life and realize they were in prison. Oh, maybe not in actual jail. They didn’t get arrested, read their rights, handcuffed and locked up in a cell. But more in a prison of addiction, sadness, self-pity, oh poor me (I’ve been there)….angry at the world, angry at God, “How can you let this happen?” Angry at themselves saying, “What is wrong with me?!!! Well if I just take another drink, I can forget about it, at least until tomorrow morning.”

Yes, some of us have been in prison of our own making, and when I, myself, reflect back on those years, I can see when I started to realize, I can be free! I don’t have to be shackled like this. And it was when I began to ask, “Lord, what do I do? I don’t know what to do. Please tell me and show me the way.” You see, I began to knock. I began to seek. And it’s true, I might have still been a little skeptical, but the door began to open. Maybe just a crack, and I could see a liiiittttle bit of light.  But the important thing is, I began to talk with   Jesus. I began to talk to him as if he was right there with me, and tell him my problems. And over time I    began to feel the weight lift and I also began to realize, I don’t have to be perfect. Believe me, I’m far from it. But we can be assured, God knows our journey. God knows our hearts. In Luke 12, Jesus said, “Are not 5 sparrows sold for 2 pennies? Yet, God forgets not one of them. Indeed the very hairs of your head are numbered. Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.”

So while we enjoy this season, let us remember, the source of true freedom, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

June, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

It is the beginning of June which means summertime is just beginning. One thing I am reminded of this time of year is how so many things are put on hold. For kids, school is out. For churchgoers, at least for our church, Wednesday night Bible study is done and United Women in Faith meetings are over. And it’s an exciting time! Why? Well, beyond children and teachers getting off of school for a few months, it means summer activities are here!

I was curious and so I looked online for a poll about people’s favorite thing about summer, and just as I suspected, it was the warm weather along with the fact that they don’t have to wear so many layers of clothes. But it all seems to come down to the fact that because of the warm, sunny weather, we can get out and do those fun things we love.

After being locked up in the house, fighting the battle of the wind chill, we now go out and take vacation, we get to have Vacation Bible School, (which is just next month, by the way) and, of course, we have the local festivals, county fairs, family barbeques, and picnics.

Yes, we finally get out, warm our bones and enjoy the world in full bloom once again. You know what else we get to get out of? Church! You heard that right! No, I’m not saying don’t come to Sunday worship or any other occasion it’s called for. Going to the church is a wonderful thing. I’m just saying that summer is a great reminder that God calls us to step outside of the church. To look around at the beauty of God’s earth. To look at the beauty of God’s creation and to realize that we are encouraged to leave the comfort of our beautiful stone edifice, and go out and serve God’s children.

I realize it’s not easy. It can be hard to step out into the world and serve. If you have ever been in the restroom of our church, you may have noticed a dial on the wall that says comfort zone. If you turn it up on high, it radiates warmth from the pad on the ceiling. It’s used for making the bathroom warm on those cold days when the radiator heat doesn’t reach that far. But it always reminds me to ask myself. Am I high up in my comfort zone? Am I too comfortable in my life? And many times the answer is yes, and I need to go do something about it. I need to leave the church walls and get out into the world.

So I wish you all a safe and fun summer! Enjoy the sun. Enjoy your families and the time spent together. And try to remember to keep summer as a reminder of God’s beautiful creation, God’s beautiful creation in His children, including yourself, and also as a reminder to get out of those four walls and serve the Kingdom. Amen.

Peace and Blessings always!

Pastor Brian

May, 2022

Greetings in Christ! I hope you all have had a wonderful Easter season. I pray your spring is going well, too! Spring is a magical time of year. Despite the unpredictable weather, it is a time of renewal. The buds on the trees and bushes are starting to open, the flowers have begun to shoot out of the soil, and the smell of cleaning fluid is in the air. That’s right. Spring also means spring-cleaning.

There’s something refreshing about cleaning your home and property this time of year. We’ve been shut up in our houses, confined by the snow and harsh cold of winter, choosing a hot cup of tea in front of the fire with a book instead of trying to wash the windows or scrape the oven.

Despite cleaning not being fun, we get a satisfaction and a feeling of cleansing of ourselves when we do this, especially when we are finished. It’s like a burden falls off of us and we can breathe easier.

Since we are doing all of this for our homes, why not also do some spring cleaning for our body, mind, and spirits? As humans, we often let the weather dictate our feelings. In this season of renewal, consider using this time to examine your internal burdens. Think about the things in the past and ask yourself, “Is this worth holding on to? Is it useful to my spiritual growth?”

There may be many things in the past that come to our thoughts that do nothing but try to diminish our self-worth. Jesus told the story of the tares among the wheat. When the land owner saw the weeds, he said, “an enemy has done this.”

These thoughts that occur to us are the enemy trying to convince us that we are less than worthy of the Kingdom. But let us use that knowledge that it is not from ourselves, and take those burdens, clean them out as best we can, and remember what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. In this spiritual spring cleaning, let us also remember to forgive ourselves. The Lord has already forgiven you. It is ok to do that for yourself. Unburden yourself and take that breath of clean, fresh, heavenly air!

Peace and blessings always,

Pastor Brian

April, 2022

Elizabeth and I were driving the other day and we passed a church sign that read, “Easter, the Rest of the Christmas Story.” What I love about that message is it reminds us of the complete story of the saving mission of Jesus Christ. It’s a reminder that we should not only celebrate the great things that God has done for us two or three times out of the year, but all through the year. All throughout our lives! After all, Jesus’ entire life was given for our complete salvation.

The story of Jesus saving us is not just the time when he was born into the world and then around 33 years later, being resurrected from the tomb after dying on the cross. While we don’t know much about Jesus’ lifetime outside his ministry, we know that during the years before the crucifixion he was severely tempted by Satan. After the temptations in the desert, scripture reads that the devil left him until an opportune time. From this passage and others, it is believed that Jesus had to endure temptations at different times throughout his ministry, and those temptations had the whole of hell bent on Him. No doubt, the temptation Jesus felt was beyond anything we have had to endure. The moment praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweat pouring from him “like drops of blood” shows the agony he must have been in, knowing what was coming. And yet, He said, “not my will, Father, but yours.”

This doesn’t diminish our own struggle with temptation, but it does help us to know that Jesus, in saving us, gave us the ability to overcome sin. The fact that he went through temptation gives us comfort that Jesus understands what we are going through. He endured it, overcame, and rose to final victory for the whole human race!

So in celebrating Easter this year, when we declare, He Is Risen! (He Is Risen, indeed!) Let us rejoice in, not just the moment of resurrection, but in the completion of the whole story, from the virgin birth, to the miraculous healings, to the suffering of torture, crucifixion and death, to the rising from the grave and conquering the “so called” power of sin and death, and giving us new life.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

March, 2022

Greetings in Christ! Welcome to the Lenten Season. I hope everyone got through the cold, grey days of February and now ready for the unpredictable weather of the month to come!

Speaking of unpredictability, has anyone ever been caught off guard by temptation? I know I have been guilty of making a decision to avoid certain things during times like Lent or just trying to do certain diets, and, shall I say, had a moment of weakness. The invention of the cookie is a blessing and a curse! 

What is interesting about those times when we make a commitment to avoid certain things in the spirit of  repentance or better health, is this. We KNOW a time will come when we will be tempted to stray from the “straight and narrow.” It’s inevitable. If it was not going to happen, we could hardly call it a time of           repentance. It is during those times when we are trying to remember the spirit and the feeling when the commitment was made. But let’s be honest, most of us usually have that moment of backslide.

And that is ok. That is when true repentance happens! It’s then that we come to the Lord and ask forgiveness. We forgive ourselves and not get down on ourselves for being, well, just like everyone else! We all fall short of the Kingdom.

So instead of using the energy to feel bad, why not use that time to focus on God. Jesus loves us no matter what. There’s nothing we could ever do to lose that love. So use that time to realize that you are doing the best you can and recognize that Jesus does not condemn us for our moments of weakness, but loves us despite them.

Have a blessed Lenten season as we look forward to Easter!

Peace always!

Pastor Brian.

February, 2022

Greetings in Christ! An author once called this month “The Great, Grey Beast of February.” That can feel so true depending on our state of mind during this time of year. The sweet memories of Christmas are fading and the warmth of spring and summer feel like they are nothing short of an eternity away.

The good news is that the Lord has granted us the seasons so that we may  appreciate the times when all seems right with the world. It would be hard to truly appreciate the warmth of a spring day and the beauty of the buds starting to open on the bare branches of the trees without them.

Could you imagine if we didn’t know about the season changes and what happens to the trees every year? One day, the leaves start to turn colors and we might find it wondrous and beautiful! Then soon, it would start to get cold, and they would begin to turn brown and fall off. Not knowing about the cycle of seasons, we would be worried thinking the trees are dying! Then, a few months later, the leaves begin to grow back and all the foliage looks green again and full. The flowers begin to bloom and the world looks beautiful again!

What a miracle! That is very much like God’s Kingdom. Our lives have seasons, and it can seem like everything is perishing around us and the “Great Grey Beast” is going to devour us. But praise be to God, it is not like that. Because we know how God works, we know that the trees are not dying, their beauty will return, the flowers will blossom again, and the fruit will appear.

It’s never easy when we are experiencing a spiritual “winter”, when life is hard and it seems like it will never get better. But let us try to remember that God is faithful and will always provide. Let us do our best to look forward once again to that season of warmth and sunshine and to realize that the fruit that appears is the    wisdom and strength that we gained.

Have a blessed day, week, and month to come!

Pastor Brian

January 2022

Greetings in Christ and Happy New Year! It’s resolution time! So what’s it going to be this year? For me, it is walking. As a restaurant server, from   Denny’s to fine dining, over the past 30 years, I always walked several miles a day. I had to. It was my job to walk. I walked from the table to the kitchen, to the food window, back to the table, to the register, to the table again, to the kitchen…for 8 hours a day.

And now, I sit and write, then walk over to the church (about fifty steps) back to the house, then sit and study, then go to the fridge, then sit and write, then sit and make phone calls. You get the idea. So, my resolution is to walk. But I’m not going to walk a lot. I am going to start with one mile, three days a week. The next week, I’ll walk a mile four days. The next, I’ll make it five days and so forth, with my hopes to walk five miles a day. What I have learned about taking on anything like this, is to start small.

It’s like a train. It starts with a crawling forward and seems like it’s never going to pick up speed. Then it goes a little faster, and a little faster. Soon, the train has built up a lot of speed. Try to stop it now. It has   MOMENTUM! That will be my focus word this year. Momentum takes time and patience. Our church is gaining momentum. Our Wednesday night Soup and Study is gaining momentum. How do I know? Because we are moving. Sometimes we move so slow, it’s hard to see. But we are moving, and that’s what it takes. Movement is the beginning of momentum.

When the Christian Church first started, it was very small. It started slow. And look at it now. Christianity is still spreading today. It has to. It is based in Divine Love and Wisdom…but it took time and it’s still spreading. So, as a church, let us continue with our motivations based in goodness and truth. Let’s keep   moving, even if it seems a little at a time and let that momentum build. As 2022 turns old in December, we will look back and marvel at the ground we have covered, and how far we have come as a church compared to where we were in January. It’s exciting to think about!

May you all have a blessed New Year!

Peace and blessings,

Pastor Brian