Monday, June 27, 2016

Distress And Rejoicing At The Beach

Our beautiful summer day was suddenly interrupted by the frantic cries of a mom who quickly got the attention of dozens of people at the very busy Siesta Key Beach.

I stood up and walked in her direction. Even though she was screaming, I couldn’t hear exactly what she was saying. But I thought it might have something to do with a child so I wanted to help, if possible.

Sure enough, as I got closer I saw the woman acting in a panicked manner at the edge of the water. Her child was missing. Seven or eight other people were gathering around her, as well. Now I could hear her clearly though she was so frightened and frenzied she wasn’t making complete sense. She was turning in circles calling her daughter’s name.

People were attempting to get information from the mom.

“What is her name?”

“What is she wearing?”

“Where was she playing when you last saw her?”

The beach was very busy and there were scores and scores of people in the water in this particular area. People were looking in every direction calling out the little girl’s name. “Christiana!”

We were looking, with hope and concern, for a six-year-old girl in a pink bathing suit.
This search probably went on for 7 or 8 minutes but it seemed much longer.

Then we saw a woman coming from the water holding a little girl by the arm.

When the mom saw them she burst into tears.

Christiana looked bewildered but she also had a look on her face that seemed to indicate the realization that she might be in a bit of trouble. Her mom took her in her arms and sobbed. Loud sobbing.

It is hard to describe the sound of a mom sobbing for her children but when you hear it, it is hard to forget.

When something priceless was lost and is then found there is great rejoicing.

I breathed a sigh of relief, thankful this story involved rejoicing.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hats Off To The "Doers!"

It is relatively easy to find the faults, problems, short-comings and errors of the doers in life.

By “doers” I mean the builders, creators, producers, artists, contributors and leaders… those people who are making an effort to accomplish goals and objectives. The doers are the people who are—at least—making an attempt to move the ball down the field of life.

Unfortunately, I’ve been guilty of engaging in this simple, unimpressive, unproductive type of criticism. It is true that critics can sometimes offer genuine insights, however, being a critic often involves sitting somewhere comfortably watching, exposed to zero risk, pointing out flaws and then eating another donut.

On the other hand, in the course of life, I’ve been in the “doer” position, as well. And I have taken some of that fault-finding from the critics.

I have messed up a lot—I mean A LOT—in my attempts to be a doer. Frankly, some of the criticism that has come my way has been correct and it has been warranted. But I would still rather be a doer than a critic. In fact, I would rather be a failed doer than be a safe, untried, undefeated critic.

So, to all the “Doers” out there: Good job! Don’t give up! At least you’re still trying.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Not Covered In The Training Manual

On Sunday evening, we stopped for a quick break in our "on the road" adventure at McDonalds.

I was standing by the beverage area and Rachel walked up to me with a few food items but she was crying. Looking in her direction I could see about 5 McDonald's employees were talking/whispering to each other and looking at her.

I said to her, "What's wrong?"

But she was crying and answering me at the same time so I could not understand what she was trying to say.

One of the managers of the restaurant walked up to us and said, "I'm sorry. We did not hear her full request when she placed her order. So, we only charged her for what we heard her order. Now, we realize she wanted some additional items. When we told her that she only purchased what we gave her and not the additional items she wanted she began to cry."

I think some of the McDonald's employees were as upset as Rachel.

The manager who explained the situation to me looked like she might start crying.

I said, "It's alright. Don't worry." With a big smile I added, "Allow me to order the other things she wanted and pay for them and it will be fine."

I went to the counter and placed the order and three or four employees jumped right into action (I suppose I should mention that no one else was in line ordering food at the moment). Rachel got what she wanted and was satisfied. (Chicken McNuggets almost always lead to satisfaction.)

I tried, again, to smile and reassure the crew that everything was alright. No serious damage was done! But I think it was a rough moment for them. This specific type of scenario is probably not covered in the training and procedures manual.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Great Parents And Counting My Blessings

I have bad arteries. This is not an attempt on my part to scold my arteries—quite frankly—they don’t really listen, anyhow. This is just describing a physical reality regarding my body.

My heart is strong, but, as my friend Greg puts it, “I have bad plumbing.”

These are the genetic cards I have been dealt.

I have never smoked or drank. I do not have diabetes. And yet I have the arteries of someone who must deal with the effects of those unhelpful health factors.

I am, nevertheless, incredibly blessed because, in spite of some unhelpful genetic realities, my parents passed along something very important—in a sense, something more important—to me.

They passed along their love, wisdom and faith in God.

Additionally, they passed along their living example of graciousness, hospitality, generosity, responsibility, work ethic, kindness, friendliness, joy and moral virtue.

So, if the question arises: Can a guy with bad arteries still recognize that he is blessed?

The answer is: [ Excuse me while I put down these pork chops… ] Yes, he can.

On Father’s Day I’m counting my blessings and thinking about having a great dad and, for that matter, great parents!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

E-Flash From Dan, June 18, 2016

Dear E-Flash Friends;

What would happen if we would actually put our hope and trust in the Lord?

According to the Bible there is a significant strength which is available to those who trust God. Sounds interesting, huh? Good. That’s what we will be talking about this Sunday, June 19th. You are invited to come and learn from this tremendously encouraging passage which is found in the book of Isaiah chapter 40!

We will honor our dads tomorrow, as well.

The worship team has a great time planned for us. During the rehearsal, last night, I was caught up in the music at several points and with excitement I thought, “This is going to be a special time of praising God!”

Why not invite dad to come along with you? It is going to be a wonderful day! Really.

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!

Love and blessings,


Monday, June 13, 2016

Agents of Goodness and Light

There is a darkness that sows fear, intimidation and terror in our world because of the existence of evil. We sadly encountered the truth of this darkness in a drastic and tragic way this past weekend. Our hearts are grieved and we pray for the innocent victims—our fellow citizens—who were needlessly killed or injured as a result of this horror.

Like many of you, I have been brought to tears as I’ve seen the images and heard the stories from the sight of the shooting in Orlando.

But we do not have to be overcome, overwhelmed, completely disheartened and defeated by the darkness. In fact it is genuinely important that we do not allow ourselves to believe the darkness will prevail.

We can still be agents of goodness, grace, truth and light. That is my prayer.

The light of God is greater than the darkness.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

You Are Not Alone

Sometimes when life becomes scary the problems with which we are struggling seem to be even worse and our unease is intensified because we may feel like we are facing the difficulty alone. In fact, the loneliness may be more disheartening than the actual problems.

God has an important word of truth for us to remember during these times. It is found in the book of Hebrews chapter 13, vs. 5. “…God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”

Many of us have experienced the reality of being in a crowded room and still feeling lonely. So this is a very important and a very encouraging truth to recognize: We are not alone.

Friday, June 10, 2016

E-Flash From Dan, June 10, 2016

Dear E-Flash Friends;

The prophet Isaiah wrote about Jesus long before He was born and told us some of the titles that would apply to Him, such as, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

What do these titles mean?

Glad you asked. We will be addressing that question this Sunday, June 12th. I hope you are planning to be here. It will be a blessing!

The worship team is planning some tremendous music and we will be taking Communion, as well.

I can’t think of any place I’d rather be.

Hawaii? Nope.
Grand Tetons? Nope.
Paris? Nope.

Oak Lawn? Yes!!!

And I genuinely hope to see you!

Hey I have a great idea. Invite a friend to come along. He or she will be encouraged and inspired by the good news of Jesus, too!

Love and blessings,

Dan Marler
First Church of God
4600 W. 111th Street
Oak Lawn, IL

Service times: 9am and 11am

P.S. All Wednesday evening programming—for both adults and children—is now on a summer break. We will resume on Wednesday, August 3rd.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Unhealthy Relationships... Move On

There really are people who want to fight or argue or create tension. There is something exciting—something desirable for them—about this type of drama. Arguments with these people will typically not be resolved in any good way because they do not actually want them to be resolved.

It is always good to work through problems and live at peace with others when that is possible. But if they do not want to do so we cannot force resolution.

Of course there can always be exceptions but for the most part it is best to avoid this kind of negativity. It is usually an unhealthy and unproductive drain on our energy. Instead of engaging with them and endlessly spinning our wheels in arguments that will never be resolved it is wiser for us to move on and get busy doing the good and positive work God has called us to do.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Value of Accepting Responsibility

A number of years ago when I was in counseling I would occasionally notice—as I was speaking with the counselor—that I would subtly minimize my responsibility for the problems in my life. This was particularly true if the problem involved a shortcoming/error/sin on my part that was personally embarrassing.

Oh sure, I was willing to bring up the shortcoming/error/sin on my part but then I would hear myself using language that would slightly diminish my responsibility.

For example, if I wronged another person, I would have been likely during the counseling session to say, “As I think about it, I MAY HAVE wronged that person.”

On more than a few occasions—even as I was doing this—I would notice my language and stop. The counselor never said anything about my choice of words. He never challenged what I was saying, for the most part he simply listened. However, after I noticed what I was doing I would say, “You know what? I’m not speaking honestly. It’s not that I ‘may have’ wronged that person. I did wrong that person. I did something wrong. I hurt that person and I know it.”

The counselor did not applaud my insight or congratulate me for noticing the distinction and stating the situation more accurately. He just listened.

It is not easy to recognize and accept full responsibility for our actions but it is right and it is helpful.

If we are going to grow and mature one of the most important steps involves being willing to genuinely accept responsibility for who we are, what we say, what we do and how we treat others. I think we have a natural resistance to accepting responsibility in this way. I know I do. It is not comfortable. But it is a critical aspect of moving forward in a healthy, God-honoring way.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

In Spite of The Challenges... Let's Do What Is Right

Sometimes when we do the right thing it works out well and there are positive results. It is terrific when life goes that way, isn’t it? When this happens it feels like the world is working the way it is supposed to work.

However, we all know it is possible to do the right thing and have to face difficult consequences. That can be incredibly discouraging. After all, here we are doing what is right and, yet, doing what is right actually results in trouble and problems.

When this happens we may be tempted to think: “Forget it! I’m not doing the right thing anymore. When I do what’s right it turns into a great big hassle. I’m done being one of the good guys!”

This is a loving, respectful, humble challenge to myself and to anyone who may read this post: With God’s help and in spite of the challenges, let’s continue to do what’s right anyhow!

Friday, June 3, 2016

E-Flash From Dan - June 3, 2016

Dear E-Flash Friends;

More than 600 years before Jesus was born a prophet wrote about some of the details of His life with surprising insight and accuracy. And believe it or not what this prophet wrote is very relevant to our lives today. We are going to look at the writings I’m talking about—writings by the prophet Isaiah—this Sunday, June 5th.

We will also be having a prayer time with the elders in between the two services. If you have a need for which you would like prayer please feel free to come. The prayer time will begin around 10:15 a.m.

I hope you can join us! I know you will be blessed. Invite a friend to come along. He or she will be blessed by the good news we read in the book of Isaiah, too!

I’m looking forward to Sunday. And I’m looking forward to seeing you!

Love and blessings,

Dan Marler
First Church of God
4600 W. 111th Street
Oak Lawn, IL

Service times: 9am and 11am

P.S. All Wednesday evening programming—for both adults and children—is now on a summer break. We will resume again on Wednesday, August 3rd.

P.P.S – Click on the link and check out the latest edition of the Minute And A Half of God Stuff Podcast. It is quick and inspiring!