Category Archives: Articles

Article: The New Year

Well, we step into a new year on Saturday. I know, I know, dates are a human creation, but this is the way we mark time, and a new year is upon us. 

I don’t know what the new year holds for us as individuals or as a church, but I am sure of one thing. I am sure of the promises of God.

Isaiah the prophet spoke the words of God during a time of great conflict and even unfaithfulness. God’s grace didn’t depend upon how good the people were back then, and it doesn’t now. 

This is what God said to the people of Israel back then and to us today…

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

Whatever the new year holds, I will look to God who is the giver of all good things, and I will do my best to cling to Jesus in all situations. 

God will make a way in the most desperate of situations and will present new opportunities as we step into 2022. 

Let us not dwell on the past as God reminds us in Isaiah. Instead, let us learn from the past so that it informs our decisions as we step into our future. 

I pray the struggles we have faced in the past two years will subside but even if they don’t, we trust God will watch over us and make a way.

May we all have a blessed New Year as we draw closer to Jesus.

Pr. Ben


Article: Make Time

A week from today (Friday) it will be Christmas Eve. What will you be doing that day?

All the planning of the worship staff and pastors will be complete and we will be ready to celebrate Christmas together as a church family.

For some, there is a danger of being too busy. Rushing to finish this and that in order to achieve the perfect Christmas. 

For others, it will be quiet. Too quiet. The loneliness is deafening and a pining for Christmases past. 

Unhappy woman at home text messaging

Or maybe you are somewhere in between?

Whatever you may or may not be doing, remember “the reason for the season.” Take some time to connect with God. 

Make time for Jesus. Whether you come to church or worship online, carve out a moment for God.

I am reminded of what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth…

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 

For Isaiah says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” 

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2Corinthians 6:1-2

Let’s not take God’s love for granted. Christmas is the reminder that salvation has arrived in the person of Jesus.

God’s favor rests upon his children. We should celebrate that.

Make the time.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8a

Merry Christmas!

Pr. Ben


Article: Waiting But Not Sitting Around

Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting for Christmas and waiting for Christ’s return.

I am really good at waiting… because I have no choice in the matter! Honestly, I am not a patient wait-er. 

Over the past two years, I’ve ordered a lot more stuff online than I ever did in the past. I find it easier to have stuff delivered to the front door than going out and hunting it down in a store. 

Once the order is complete, I often get a shopping confirmation with a tracking number. I proceed to track that order several times a day until the package ends up on my welcome mat. Like I said, I am not patient when waiting- but I am good at it! 

Life doesn’t stop when we wait for stuff, nor should we sit around waiting for Jesus to return. There is too much that needs fixing or help! The best way to wait is to show our love for God by loving our neighbor.

The love and kindness we receive from Jesus should overflow to the community around us.

Remember what King David wrote in the 23rd Psalm, You prepare a table before me 
in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

King David reminds us that there will be times in our lives that will be less than ideal, if not unpleasant. (Who wants to eat at a table full of your enemies?!?) Even when bad things happen, we are reminded in Psalm 23:5 that we are still chosen children of God (you anoint my head with oil) AND we have more than enough (my cup overflows). 

Let us not waste that which overflows our cup! Love is not a finite quantity! There is always enough love to go around.

While we wait for Christmas and Christ’s return… let’s not wait impatiently, we have too much loving to do.

Love often looks like:

  • Peanut Butter for Lutheran Social Services
  • Turkey or mashed potatoes for our senior food program
  • Wrapped children’s gifts for Angel Tree
  • Free quilts given to veterans at the VA hospital
  • A Christmas Card to someone who lives alone.

God bless you,
Pr. Ben


Article: Our Values

For the past two weeks I have been sharing our core values at Community Lutheran Church.

Some might think, “Big deal. More words for the website.”

Others might be wondering, “What about those other words we use? Words like: Real People, Inclusive God, Radical Grace and Inspired Growth.” Are those going away?

Yet a few more might be thinking, “What do we even need core values for?”

What I have been sharing with you is way more than words on a website! And no, what we believe about ourselves, and God has not changed. We still believe that we are REAL PEOPLE who follow an INCLUSIVE GOD who gives RADICAL GRACE and puts us on a path of INSPIRED GROWTH. 

We literally spent time defining ourselves. We can now state who we are without ambiguity. 

We are and we strive to be:


These are benchmarks for us! We can do a heart check at any time! Just ask yourself the question, “Am I being…” and fill in the blank with any or all of those words above. 

We all need self-evaluation occasionally… even me.

However, the most exciting thing for me in all the data the congregation provided me was that you told me very specifically what INSPIRED GROWTH looks like at Community Lutheran Church. I didn’t ask for that, but you offered it up anyway! 

So far we have talked about the importance of:

Embracing WELCOME

Community in WORSHIP

Seek to LEARN

And there are two more we will cover in worship this weekend! (I don’t want to let the proverbial cat out of the bag!)

Each one of these practices will help us mature as Christians which in turn will help us grow as a church. 

Soon, our staff will gather to talk about each of these practices and define them even more. 

We now have a roadmap that tells us where (and who) we are and we have clear directions towards our destination! 

A person may plot out their course, but it is the Lord who directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

It is an exciting time to be at CLC!

Show up this weekend and discover our last two practices that will complete our pathway of growth!

God bless,
Pr. Ben


Article: A Little Self-Reflection

Self-Reflection is good. It is helpful. Growth follows reflection. 

Self-reflection and self-awareness go hand in hand. 

In the 5th century, an ancient Greek playwright by the name of Aeschylus first wrote these words, “Know thyself.”

If you know yourself, you will know what makes you mad, sad, and so on. This is good advice.

Even as Christians, it is helpful, on occasion to look inward. We can look inward for a whole host of reasons. 

Maybe it is time to make some changes in your life. Jesus talked about that. 

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

Jesus is talking about getting your own house in order before worrying about someone else’s life. That takes reflection. 

The Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 586BC and Jeremiah the prophet wrote the book Lamentations in the midst of this tragedy. In the 3rd chapter of this book he wrote…

Let us examine our ways and test them and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40

More self-reflection. 

Is there something that needs to change in your life? Do know why you do certain things? It is good to take time to look inside yourself and even ask some questions. Jeremiah even reminded us to test our actions. Do our actions reflect our intentions?

We recently did this as a congregation! I asked everyone to reflect on our core values as a church and with a little work, we know what is most important at Community Lutheran Church!

Starting this weekend, I will share with you what we discovered. I hope you make time to worship with us over the next several weeks to hear what we hold dear.

God bless,
Pr. Ben


Article: God’s Way is Our Way

Today this verse popped into my head…

Jesus said, But seek first God’s kingdom and the Lord’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 

I believe when verses come to me, they are given for a reason. Inspiration shows up when you least expect it!

When I took a moment to ponder the words of Jesus, it struck me. This is what we are pursuing at Community Lutheran Church. Seeking God’s Kingdom is what we do! 

There are some who think we might be chasing after other things, but let me assure you we not only want God’s Kingdom to be manifest among us but also the entirety of Jesus’ love to change our hearts and this city. 

See, at the center of it all is love because “God is love.” 1John 4:8 To seek God’s Kingdom is to seek the source of all love. 

We are also commanded to seek the Lord’s righteousness too. That sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It isn’t. Righteousness is what is given when we are in relationship with Jesus. Simply put, we should grow closer to God so that we may grow in righteousness. We want to grow in God’s way of living life. Righteousness is found when we love more. God’s way is the way of love.

That is exactly what we are up to at Community Lutheran Church!

If we keep the main thing the main thing, Jesus tells us that, “all these things will be given to you as well.” We are reminded that everything we worry about will be taken care of when we focus on what is truly important.

That’s what we are going to keep on doing… seek first God’s kingdom.

God bless you,

Pr. Ben


Article: What Are Your Core Values?


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?


I value … 

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

God bless,
Pr. Ben


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


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


Who is the Greatest?

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:1–4 

Life is competitive, isn’t it? Even during the time of Jesus, people strove to be the best. Just look at the disciples’ questions, “Who is the greatest?”

Maybe the disciples were hoping that Jesus would name one of them as the greatest. Then the others would be jealous and jockey for position.

We all want to be great at something. I know I do. Here is how I know that I am competitive: I compare myself to others. 

I know I shouldn’t do it, but I do.

Pastor Paul reminds us in his letter to the church of Galatia not to play the “I am the greatest” game.

Paul writes, “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” Galatians 6:4-5

I shouldn’t be worried if I am the greatest at anything! First, I am not. Second, I am looking at the wrong thing. 

The question I should be asking is this, “Am I better than I used to be?” I need to compare myself with myself. Am I making progress in my faith walk compared to last week, last month or last year?

The disciples were asking the wrong question and Jesus clarifies.

Jesus picks the most unlikely person from the crowd and says, “be like them.”

Like I said, the disciples expected Jesus to point to one of the disciples and say, “He’s the greatest. Yep, its this guy.” Instead, Jesus finds a child and says this, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

That was not the answer they were looking for. They wanted Jesus to pick one of them. The one who asked the question secretly hoped it was him, I bet. 

Instead, Jesus uplifts humility as a core quality of the Kingdom of God. If you haven’t connected the dots, the question itself was prideful. 

In essence, Jesus was telling the disciples not to worry about who is the greatest. God doesn’t care about such things. Rather, to be humble and keep moving forward in life.

Jesus and Saint Paul remind us to worry about ourselves. To use slang, “You do you.” You will never be anyone else so stop comparing your life to someone else’s. Be the best version of yourself and give God the credit.

God bless you,

Pr. Ben