Category Archives: Articles

Article: Living Water

I love the story of Jesus encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria.

However, there are a lot of nuances that can easily be missed.

  • The woman went to the well around noon (the 6th hour) to avoid conversations with others.
  • Jesus should not be at the well because it was inappropriate for a man to talk to a woman alone.
  • Jesus was in Samaria and there was bad blood between Jews and Samaritans.

This is a “conflict rich environment.”

Jesus is at this well in Samaria (not Israel) by himself around noon when a woman from town comes to draw water, hoping no one would be there.

Rather than minding his own business, Jesus asks her for a drink of water.

The woman knew he wasn’t a Samaritan. Maybe it was his accent? Already annoyed that she is not alone, she tries to end the conversation.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) John 4:9

She is trying to cut this conversation off before it begins.

Essentially, the woman says this, “Why are you even talking to me? Your people look down on my people. Your people wouldn’t touch anything that touched my hands because we are ‘unclean.’”

A little passive aggressive to get Jesus to leave her alone!

It doesn’t work. And now, Jesus has her full attention.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Jesus knew this woman was struggling because Jesus always knows. He intentionally makes a provocative statement to see if she will “bite.” And she does.

Jesus’ intention was to show her the love of God maybe for the first time in her life. This woman knows disappointment. This woman knows shame. Her is life was marked by numerous relational failures and the subsequent judgment from others in town.

Jesus wants to change her life moving forward. He does this by offering her “living water.”

This offer of living water sounds kind of like new age spirituality when Jesus first says it. But it is not. To understand what he is talking about, we would need to read more of the gospel of John to understand what he is talking about.

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.  John 7:37-39

There we have it. Jesus was offering the woman at the well the gift of the Holy Spirit. He was inviting her into a relationship with God.

It is the same Spirit offered to all who come to faith in Christ, including you. It is the Spirit who wants to gift you with all the tools you need to get through life.

Listen to this…

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22

Those are the things the Holy Spirit wants to give to every child of God! I gladly accept these gifts! I hope you do too.

The Holy Spirit is like a chilled glass of water on a hot day… refreshing!

This weekend we will gather to celebrate the day God gave the Holy Spirit to all believers. Come and join us online or in person as we give thanks for the Holy Spirit that guides and inspires us… each and every day.

God bless,

Pr. Ben


Article: Why I Talk About Church Finances and Giving

The church is the body of believers that gather together. Saint Paul refers to us as the “body of Christ.” (1Corinthians 12:27)

He takes that a step further and calls Jesus the “head” of this body. In other words, Christ is the brains of the operation!

First and foremost, this is Christ’s church. Second, we are stewards (managers) of what Jesus entrusted to us.

It is a communal responsibility to care for our church. It doesn’t just fall to me or Pastor Brian or even the church council. We all have a stake in caring for all aspects of our congregation.

That is the precisely the reason I have been so open about our finances and all the different things that needed repairs over the years.

It was conveyed to me recently that some are uncomfortable with me sharing our congregational needs with the membership, especially when there is a deficit.

In my attempts to be transparent, I have made some to feel uncomfortable and question what we are doing?

In several previous congregational meetings, I have stated more than once that our largest expense is our staffing and that is common in all churches. We have reduced staff since the pandemic to trim our budget.

Up to this point, we have resisted shrinking our staff even more.

Occasionally, there are unforeseen expenses that happen too. This year (so far) it was our exorbitant gas bill. We are still working on finding out why.

My objective is simple: Let our amazing congregation know what is going on and why.

I do not mean to upset anyone. Ever.

As it relates to all things giving, I believe in what Saint Paul wrote with my whole heart.

Each person should give what they have decided in their heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2Corinthians 9:7

There is no reason to give to the church if you don’t feel like it. It is that simple.

God wants people to be cheerful and joyful when they give. We should never give because someone is guilting us or twisting our arms.

I love our church and only want the best for us and the ability to continue to provide quality ministry to you, the city and online!

God bless you,
Pr. Ben


Article: Accepting Yourself and Others

This past Sunday I preached on the first part of our mission statement at CLC. It states that we are church of real people. Essentially, we are imperfect people seeking Jesus.

The church is full of broken people in varying degrees, including myself.

Although God is perfect, he doesn’t demand perfection from us. God knows us so well that he sent us himself (as Jesus) to forgive us and draw us close. The cross tells us that God doesn’t hold anything against us.

Jesus wants us to draw so close so that we can be washed clean (forgiven) by him. He isn’t scared off by sin. Jesus embraces sinners.

Knowing this, why do we judge people who sin knowing we do it too? There is something wrong with us when we feel superior to those who do bad things, and we look down on others. It is contrary to everything we know about ourselves (we are sinners too) and God’s unconditional love.

No matter how many times we are told that God is love (1John 4:8) we still think God requires people to get their act together before they can truly be considered a Christian. There is nowhere in the Bible that we are asked to be “gatekeepers” to keep the riffraff out.  The point is that we are all a hot mess to some degree.

We don’t need to fit in… we are accepted as we are.

It is a paradox to think “I am acceptable to God” but you over there “are not.” It is purely by God’s grace, God’s gift of love that we are all welcomed into God’s family. We are then forgiven and made new by our faith (trust) in the living Christ.

We don’t have to hide our sin because we can’t. We don’t have to wear a mask or build a carefully curated version of ourselves for God or other people. When we embrace the ouchy parts of our life, Jesus draws close to bring healing. Hiding the pain only prolongs the emotional agony.

God bless you,
Pastor Ben


Article: Holy Week 2023

Holy Week crown of thorns background.

We begin the most important week of the year: Holy Week.

Jesus came to forgive. To repair what was broken shortly after creation: Our Rebellion.

On Good Friday, Jesus gave his life as a ransom so that we can be truly free.

Much happens between Palm Sunday and Easter morning. More than we can describe in worship this coming week.

If you are interested in a timeline of the week, you came to the right place.


  • Jesus arrives in Bethany six days before Passover (Jn12:1)
  • Stays with Lazarus, Mary and Martha (his Judean home)
  • Possibly the supper and anointing in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper where Jesus is anointed by Mary. (Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1-8)

Palm Sunday:

  • Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21:1-9; Mk 11:1-10; Lk 19:28-38; Jn12:12-18) Fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9
  • Jesus weeps over seeing Jerusalem and predicts its destruction. (Lk 19:39-44)
  • Jesus cleanses the temple. (Mt 21:10-17; Mk 11:11; Lk 19:45-46; Jn 2:13-25)

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday:

  • Jesus curses the fig tree. (Mt 21:18-19; Mk 11:12-14)
  • Parable of the wicked tenants (Mt 21:33-46; Mk 12:1-12; Lk 20:9-19)
  • Returns to Bethany at night.
  • Jesus denounces the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:1-36; Mk 12:37-40; Lk 20:45-47)
  • Jesus teaches in the Temple (Lk 21:37-38)
  • Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple. (Mt 24:1-3; Mk 13:1-4; Lk 21:5-7)
  • Possibly, on Wednesday, the supper and anointing in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper. (Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1-8) Mark’s account is just after he says that it was two days before the Passover.

Holy Thursday, Thursday Night, Early Friday Morning:

  • The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and preparation for the Passover for Jesus and the disciples. (Mt 26:17-19; Mk 14:12-16; Lk 22:7-13; Jn 19:14)
  • The Last Supper (Mt 26:20-25; Mk 14:17-21; Lk 22:14, 21-23; Jn 13 “before the Feast of Passover”)
  • Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane; the betrayal of Judas and the arrest of Jesus.
  • Jesus taken to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest. Annas sends Jesus to Caiaphas (Jn 18:12-25)
  • Jesus taken to the high priest Caiaphas’ home where the scribes, elders, and the chief priests had gathered. (Mt 26:57-75; Mk 14:53-72; Lk 22:54-71)
  • Peter denies Jesus three times.
  • Jesus was kept overnight in a cistern below Caiaphas’ home.

Good Friday:

  • Early in the morning, the Sanhedrin meets, they lead Jesus to Pilate. (Mk 15:1; Mt 27:1-2; Lk 23:1; Jn 18:28)
  • Pilate sends Jesus to Herod (Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee) (Lk 23:6-7)
  • Herod mocks Jesus and then clothes him in gorgeous apparel, and sends Jesus back to Pilate (Lk 23:6-12)
  • Pilate examines Jesus and finds him not guilty of the Jew’s charges against him. Pilate has Jesus flogged and plans to release him. (Lk 23:13-16; Jn 19:1-13)
  • Jesus is crowned with thorns. (Jn 19:1-6)
  • Jesus is sentenced to death and is crucified at 9:00 in the morning (Mk 15:25)
  • Jesus dies at 3:00 and is buried in the tomb. (Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34; Lk 23:44)

 Holy Saturday: Jesus’ body in the tomb.

Easter Sunday:

  • Early in the morning of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Joana?) brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body. The stone had been rolled away, the tomb was open, the body was gone, and they were told by an angel (two angels, a young man or two men in white clothes) that Jesus had been raised, and to go tell the disciples that Jesus has risen and would see them in Galilee. (Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-12)
  • The disciples did not believe the women, but Peter ran to the tomb. (Lk 24:10-12)
  • Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and tells her to go to the disciples. She is the first person on record to see the risen Jesus. (Jn 20:11-17)
  • Matthew’s account: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were on their way to tell the disciples what the angel had said, when Jesus met them and said, “Hail!” “And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Mt 28:5-10)
  • Mary Magdalene tells the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”. (Jn 20:18)
  • Jesus appears to Peter (Cephas) (Paul’s account in 1Cor 15:5)
  • Two disciples walking to Emmaus recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. (Lk 24:13-32)
  • The two disciples immediately return to Jerusalem, find the Eleven gathered, and are told that Jesus has appeared to Peter (Simon). (Lk 24:33-35) “While they were saying this, Jesus stood among them…” (Lk 24:36) “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week…Jesus came and stood among them…” (Jn 20:19) “Now Thomas…was not with them when Jesus came.” (Jn 20:24)

Click here to look at the graphic more closely:

Make the journey with us this week. From the triumphal entry to the upper room to the cross and finally to the empty tomb.

God bless you,
Pastor Ben


Article: The Face of Jesus

What does the face of Jesus look like in the world? It looks like this…

Please click on the play button and watch. You will not regret it.

It resembles Jesus whispering into the ears of children to help other children.

It looks like the Holy Spirit giving power to an idea that becomes a reality because of an unstoppable drive and determination to help others.

It is a simple message, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) For when we do, things like this happen and the world is a better place.

God bless you,
Pastor Ben


Article: Lent Is For You

I like the season of Lent. This is the time I dig deep and look inside myself.  In the words of Alcoholics Anonymous, I take a “fearless moral inventory” of my life. I know some people make New Year’s resolutions; I prefer the internal reflection over the 40 days of Lent. No rush and no rash decisions, just time spent looking inward while spending more time in community at Community Lutheran Church.

On Wednesday at our first mid-week Lenten service, I said that spending time with Jesus also means spending time with each other because Saint Paul told us that the Church is the “body of Christ.”

I look at this way, being around other Christians brings out the best in me. That gives me strength to be my best when I am around others in the world. I want to be an example of God’s love in the world.

Last weekend in worship, I talked about the wisemen from Persia who followed a star to find Jesus. I know we all want God to write it in the sky that he is real and Jesus is the Son of God. But Jesus empowered us to be that star of Bethlehem for others in the world.

It is helpful for me to spend more time with the “Light of the world” (Jesus) so that I may reflect that light of love, joy, faithfulness and kindness to others.

Remember, Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything or even feel more guilt ridden in the season of Lent. The season is for us not for God. It doesn’t matter if it is March or November, God still wants to draw close to us and change our hearts by filling it with love.

Lent is for me and it is for you. Do with it as you wish (or nothing at all). Jesus will do the same thing he always does: Love.

As for me, I don’t want to miss a thing, so I’ll be at the feet of Jesus this season. There is a spot for you too.

God bless,
Pr. Ben


Article: What Kind of God do You Believe in?

What kind of God do you want? Or to put it a different way, what kind of God do you believe in?

John the Baptist was expecting one kind of God. A God who will bring punishment.

John talked extensively to the crowds about what God is like and what God is going to do when the Messiah comes.

The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:10


His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:12

John’s expectation was that God was going to show up angry and kick butt. It was clear that he was passionate about this, and he was convinced that some people were going to face a literal “come to Jesus” moment in their lives. He even called the religious leaders of the day a “brood of vipers.”

John believed in an angry God. A God who will wreak vengeance and judgment on all his perceived enemies.

Then Jesus comes, and doesn’t meet John’s expectations. After John was arrested by Herod Antipas the Roman appointed leader of parts of Israel, John sends a few followers to go ask Jesus if he is the actual Messiah (the chosen one of God).

John is having his doubts because Jesus isn’t doing the things he thought a Messiah should be doing.

When these followers of John asked Jesus if he was the “real deal”, he responded this way…

 “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the person who does not fall away on account of me.” Matthew 11:4-6

Do you see the disconnect between John the Baptist’s expectations and the reality of Jesus Christ’s actual agenda? There is a huge ideological gap between the two.

Humans are really good at making God in our own image. We sometimes convince ourselves that God hates the same people  we do and despises the same ideas we do. We want God to punish our enemies or at least smite those we disagree with on any major topic.

Instead of creating a God that looks like a superhuman version of ourselves, we should turn to the scriptures to see what God is really like.

When we read the gospel stories of Jesus, we discover a God who loves, forgives and is always present in our time of need.

Jesus wants to draw close to ALL people and not just the people we agree with. Jesus was willing to die to make that happen.

God bless you,
Pr. Ben


Article: Jam in the Valley

We’ve been spending some time on the weekends telling stories about people who found themselves in a “jam.” No likes obstacles or trouble, but they are a fact of life. Some of the most revered people of the Bible faced great difficulties.

The question is not how to avoid all potential jams because we can’t. The question at hand is how do we navigate the trouble when it is upon us? Certainly, some of our problems are self-inflicted and some are not. We can armchair quarterback the decisions we made in the past, but those conclusions don’t alter the present reality.

Psalm 23:4 reminds us how to face the problems of this life and clarifies the how we move forward.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The operative word in this verse is “through.” We don’t backtrack, avoid, or circle around. We move through those less than pleasant experiences to get to the other side.

There is no way to avoid a jam– and spending any time to avoid life’s potholes will leave you empty and afraid.

With God’s help, we chart a course through the valley of the shadow of death. With God’s comfort, we can take the steps necessary to move beyond the current jam in our lives.

Jesus knows the valley of the shadow of death and its companion: Death Valley. No, not the one in California, but death itself. Jesus took the journey through both and emerged on Easter morning to aid us in our moments of fear and strife.

Jesus also gave us the gift of the Church so that we may always have each other too.

We don’t ever need to be alone in our struggles, and we are promised that Jesus will walk with us through everything, big or small.

Remember: Jam is always better when we share it with others.

God bless,
Pr. Ben


Article: Water

I’ve been thinking a lot about water. Specifically, the water supply in southern Nevada. As most of you know, our water supply has been dwindling for the past 20 years. Lake Mead has served as our primary water source since 1935 when Hoover Dam was completed.

As most of you know the water serves another purpose: It generates electricity. As the water from Lake Mead passes through the dam the hydroelectric generators produce massive amounts of electricity. Each year, 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power is created at the dam. That electricity can power 1.3 million homes. Wow.

There is potential in that water! Water is essential for life AND if channeled properly it can provide needed power for the lives we live.

The same is true for our baptism.

The moment we were baptized, God laid a claim on our lives. We are born into a new family: The family of God. Nothing can undo that declaration by God.

Once we have received the water joined with the Word (Jesus) at Baptism, we are both a reservoir of God’s grace but we are also full of potential power.

At our baptism we are also given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit can change us and change the world!

Look at the disciples after the resurrection. They went from being afraid when Jesus died to fearless! That is the power of the Spirit at work.

Every Christian has potential Holy Spirit power in their lives.

How do we unleash that power? We surrender to it. Let God take the lead in your life. Remember: Thy will be done, not my will be done.

Gracious God,

Thank you claiming us and making us your children. Help us to surrender our wills to yours so that the potential power of the Holy Spirit is unleashed in us… today… right now. Help us to stop, look and listen for your direction in all things. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

God bless you,

Pr. Ben


Article: Christmas 2022 Reflections

We come to the last few days of the year with an eye on New Year’s Day. Even as the world has moved on from Christmas, that is the season we are in and will be until Epiphany on January 6th.

I know it seems odd that it is still Christmas. After all, the stores and the radio told you it was the Christmas season on the day after Thanksgiving.  But here we are.

Before the season officially ends, let’s look at where we have been in the past month.

First, we created an alternative holiday to-do list…

  1. Be present in the lives of others instead of just buying presents

  2. Wrap others in love instead of just wrapping presents.

  3. Be the light instead of just going out to look at lights. (I really wanted this to be “eat cookies instead of making them.”)

  4. Send peace to others by reaching out and contacting someone.

Of course, these are things we can do all year long and I personally will strive to do those things with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Although we didn’t look at all the stories of Jesus when he was an infant, let’s take a quick peek. These stories tell us something about Jesus’ identity and his future.

  1. The angels announced the birth to shepherds not Kings, Caesar’s, and nobles. Jesus will spend his time with “real people” like us.

  2. King Herod is threatened by the birth of Jesus. Herod’s power is threatened by the One who truly has power.

  3. When Jesus was dedicated at the Temple of Jerusalem as was the custom of that day a man by the name of Simeon knew who Jesus was and what he would be about. This is what he said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:34

  4. The Wise Men come from afar reminding us that Jesus is for all people and not just some.

All the stories point to who Jesus is and what he would do for us. A good reminder for us before we put Christmas back into storage until next year.

God bless you and Merry Christmas,

Pr. Ben