All posts by Ben

Article: What Are Your Core Values?

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If you have worshipped with us in the past two weeks you heard me announce that we are doing work on discovering the Core Values of Community Lutheran Church. 

Our Core Values are separate from but complementary to our Mission Statement of: Real People, Inclusive God, Radical Grace, and Inspired Growth. 

Our Core Values already exist, and we are living into them, we just need to name them. Naming our Core Values will help us understand why we do what we do, as well as informing how we can best grow our faith and congregation in the future.

This past week we offered 6 different Core Values sessions during which we gathered the thoughts and input of our members who are currently worshipping in-person. Today on the home page of our website and in our weekly email, we shared an electronic version of these sessions for anyone who calls Community Lutheran Church their church home but who couldn’t attend an in-person session.  We are still collecting input and hope every member will participate. The more input we have, the better!

I anticipate being able to report back on the results of these sessions by the end of October. I’m excited to dig into the feedback that we received in writing and during the group discussions. It will take some time to go through all the submitted responses (close to 300 of them already!) and recording that information into a spreadsheet so that we can do an in-depth analysis and summarize our findings. It will be a big project, but I promise to report back as soon as possible. Stay tuned!

This important project will help to uncover and articulate the Core Values of our church family at Community Lutheran. But what about our own personal core values? We all have our own values, of course. But have you ever taken the time to name yours or to write them down?

Even Jesus indirectly named his core values. 

After his temptation in the desert in which Jesus demonstrated his divine self-control (see Luke 4:1-13), Jesus went home to Nazareth and went to the synagogue to worship with the people he had known his whole life.

It just so happened that they asked Jesus to read the scriptures that day and make commentary on them and so this is what happens…

The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:17-19

Right there Jesus tells us what he is all about.

Preaching the good news of God’s love

Proclaiming freedom to those who feel boxed-in and captive

Bringing sight to the blind (physically and spiritually) 

Breaking the bonds of oppression for those who can’t see a way forward

And if you doubt those are Jesus’ core values listen to this…

Then Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:20-21

Essentially Jesus told those in the synagogue that day, “This is what I am about. This is my mission, and this is at the core of who I am.”

Now get this, when Jesus died on the cross for you, me, and countless billions, he accomplished all of that in the greatest gift given to humankind.

What about you? What are your core values?

Me?

I value … 

Connection with Jesus
Caring for my family
Consistency in my relationships
Commitment to my calling

God bless,
Pr. Ben

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The Big Questions: What is the Holy Spirit?

We continue on answering the biggest questions of the faith. In this message, I answer the question, What is the Holy Spirit and what does it do? Listen in and find out how we are guided and cared for in this chaotic world.

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Sermon: Parables: Salt, Light and Mustard Seeds

We finish off the sermon series on the parables of Jesus by talking about the connection between mustard seeds, salt and light. What begins small can grow to the point that we can change the world in Jesus’ Name.

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Sermon: Parables: Why Do Some People Come to Faith and Others Do Not?

We continue in our sermon series and Jesus answers the most important question. Why do some people come to faith in Jesus and others do not? Jesus has the answer! There is a special song at the end of the message! Listen to the end!

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Article: Go and Tell

In the gospel stories about Jesus there are several reoccurring themes: God’s love for those who struggle, those who are sick, those who don’t have it all figured out and love for the outsider.

Jesus spent very little time with the religious leaders of his time. They thought they had it all figured out, including the very nature of God. Clearly, they didn’t, but these religious leaders never considered that they could be wrong about anything.

Jesus made time for real people. Not the pretenders or even the holier than thou types. If you attend Community Lutheran Church you know that we are real people! We struggle just like everyone else, and we don’t pretend otherwise.

As Jesus spent time with anyone who was interested, Jesus also mentored and taught his closest associates: the disciples. 

One of the things that Jesus instructed them to do was to go out and tell others of God’s love. This wasn’t a one-time command either. Jesus repeatedly reminded the disciples to go and share this message with anyone who will listen. 

This happened at the beginning, and this happened at the end of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. 

Early on Jesus told a fisherman he barely knew this, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch people.”Luke 5:10

Catch people with the love of God. 

Later Jesus sends out seventy-two people he had been mentoring to share the love of God with even more real people. 

Jesus even healed a man with lots demons (problems) and when he was set free, he asked if he could travel with Jesus. This was Jesus’ reply, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” Luke 8:39a

Go and tell. And that is exactly what this man did.  So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39b

And when Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples one last time to go and tell others.

Clearly, this is important. 

If we believe that God speaks to us through the scriptures, then this encouragement to share Jesus with others is for us too.

Let me ask you this, are you just one of the crowd or are you a disciple? 

I don’t know about you, but I strive to be a disciple of Jesus and not just a part of the crowd. 

Jesus changed my life and I know that he wants to change others. 

I hope you will join me in sharing the love of Jesus and not just at worship. 

It is time to invite others to discover what we’ve been given.

Pastor Paul put it this way, How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14–15 

God bless you,

Pr. Ben

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Article: All the Lonely People

Tomorrow night at church, we will be screening the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” My mind wandered to one of the songs in the movie that first appeared on their “Revolver” album. The song? “Eleanor Rigby”.

If you don’t know the song, the lyrics focus in on the isolation and the disconnectedness that we all experience at times in our lives. I find the song both haunting and accurate.

The refrain goes like this…

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

There is a sad irony that we are more connected than any other generation in the history of the world and yet many are more isolated than ever. Smartphones, email, social media and yet intimacy can be elusive. 

Even the most introverted and quiet person needs the presence of others in their lives. There is a vast difference between being alone and being lonely. 

Some of you who are reading this right now are well-connected. You have a strong network of family and friends in your life. Good for you! That is a blessing!

Some of you do not have that connection with others and that hurts. You feel personally what The Beatles were singing about in “Eleanor Rigby.”

King David once sang a song (psalm) like this. In fact, David wrote several psalms of loneliness.  But in Psalm 25 David wrote this…

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 
The troubles of my heart have multiplied; 
free me from my anguish. Psalm 25:16-17

This is the cry of isolation and some of us know it well. 

Right now, Jesus is calling out to us. He breaks through the pain of isolation and says, “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, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus came back from the dead to tell us that we can come to him and escape this pernicious feeling that we are all alone and nobody has our back. I can tell you without a doubt in my mind, Jesus has our back and always will. 

Come and find rest in Jesus. Come to worship and be surrounded by his love and the love of others.

God bless you,
Pr. Ben

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