Wednesday, March 4, 2015
We went out to eat on Sunday evening at a nice restaurant downtown called Wildfire which is known for preparing a pretty good steak. Nadia’s aunt, Mary, takes us there several times a year because she loves going out and because she enjoys seeing my Taco Bell etiquette on display at something other than a fast food joint.
As I ordered my steak, I requested French fries and I looked across the table and noticed a wry grin on Mary’s face. She saw me looking at her and shook her head as if to say, “You’re doing it again, aren’t you?”
You see, Mary knows what I’m up to. She knows that I intentionally order French fries rather than any other type of potato because the restaurant will provide ketchup for the fries. This prevents me from making an embarrassing request for ketchup to go along with my steak.
I know. I know. I can hear the horrified gasps even though our computers do not have an audio connection. (My ears are very good at picking up horrified gasps.) Yes, I put ketchup on my steak. I’m sorry for being broken in such a troubling and barbaric way.
Mary is more cultured and refined than I am, however, she is still entertained by my uncivilized ways. Believe it or not, it can be sort of fun for a classy person to watch a primitive guy in action.
She said, “So, you’re getting fries, huh?”
I smiled and said, “Yes. They have really good fries here.”
With amusement she said, “You’ll have some ketchup then, I suppose.”
Acting surprised I said, “Oh yeah. That’s right. Now that you mention it, I guess they will bring some ketchup with my fries.”
Mary and the rest of my family then caused a slight distraction and when I turned to see what was happening they moved to another table.
The steak was terrific.
...And the ketchup was pretty good, too.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Last night I had a very brief moment in which I was looking out the front doors of our church into the dark night sky as the snow was falling and I realized this: “I’m going trust God.”
You say, “For what specific issue are you trusting God?”
Saturday, February 28, 2015
I used to hope I would be an exceptional leader. You know, one of those “big time” guys who people greatly admire. I convinced myself I had the right stuff to lead thousands. In my mind, people would seek out my wisdom and advice because of my insight, skills, effectiveness and overall “coolness.”
(I know. Crazy, huh? I had grandiose ideas about myself. I’m laughing as I read the paragraph above even though it is, frankly, embarrassing to admit.)
I have come to realize—and it’s been very hard to accept—there are things the great leaders can do that I cannot. There is a willingness, among the outstanding leaders, to do some difficult things that I am too weak and fearful to do. To be honest, I’ve blown it as a leader in some fundamental ways that are incredibly humbling. It’s too bad. I had big plans for me. You would have been impressed.
Now my objective is simpler. It’s not that the ego and pride are completely gone. I wish they were but it is genuinely difficult for me to stop thinking about myself in lofty ways. (God is working on me, though.)
As I mentioned, the objective is simpler, now. I would like to do what God wants me to do. That seems like a reasonable objective, right? The problem is, I even have trouble with that. (God will help.)
I’ve tried to exalt myself and based on something Jesus said (Matt. 23:11) the result is I have been humbled. The truth of this teaching from Jesus has been made clear numerous times in my life. I’m hoping and believing a helpful lesson, for those who are willing, can be gained from what has been written here.
Friday, February 27, 2015
We talk about focus and have some discussion regarding the new upcoming series on heaven.
Click on the link to listen!
Click on the link to listen!
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
It is possible to be dealt some genuinely crummy circumstances in life. If this happens we may be tempted to gripe, get discouraged, sulk, question the fairness of this world and get ticked off for a while.
And, you know what? Maybe we need to gripe, get discouraged, sulk, question the fairness of this world and get ticked off for a while. A little while.
But at a certain point—fairly soon, actually—that response will cease to be of any value. And, in particular, it will not be of any constructive value to the person who has been dealt the negative circumstances. It will only be a dead end which will keep the person helpless and stuck. It is not God’s will that anyone should live life helpless and stuck.
The better response will be, with God’s help, to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. Perhaps there will not be a lot that can be done. Okay, do what can be done.
There are people who make it their business to attempt to convince those who face difficult circumstances that they are victims of those circumstances and they will always remain victims of those circumstances. Reject those voices. They are not helping.
Do not remain forever in The Land of Woe Is Me. Get going. Do something. Try. That is how the crummy circumstances are changed and new circumstances—better circumstances—are experienced.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
E-Flash From Dan;
What is one of my favorite topics to talk about? That’s easy: Love!
And that is what we’ll be talking about this Sunday as we conclude our series titled, “Putting First Things First.”
In fact I’m so excited about what is coming this Sunday that I even created a quick video invitation to the services. I invite you to take a moment to click on the link and watch this brief video. Come on, it is only about a minute long.
I’m really looking forward to seeing you this Sunday. And why not take the risk and invite someone? It will be a blessing!
See you on Sunday.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
This morning I was shocked and chagrined to discover that an unfortunate episode occurred involving personal control and a small area of carpeting here in our home. While I feel it will serve no productive benefit to assign blame for this episode I would like to say that I regret any role I may have played in this inopportune situation. I am, further, saddened and embarrassed to discover that this matter involved what some people would describe as a number two incident. I join with all reasonable citizens in recognizing that this type of occurrence is unacceptable.
While I am still investigating how and why such an accident may have happened, it is important for us to keep in mind that no one is perfect and all of us can, no doubt, recall our own involvement in these kinds of soiled carpeting incidents which can easily happen in the confusing give and take of life.
Please know it is my intention to seek help for my possible misunderstanding regarding what is to happen indoors and what is to happen outdoors. I look forward to putting this matter behind us and moving ahead in the many important matters in which I have been called to serve the people of this home, such as, chewing up important documents; looking out the window and barking at people who walk by on the sidewalk; and sleeping 19 to 20 hours per day.
My family and I thank you as you give us privacy during this time of healing and reflection.
Your humble servant,
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Earlier today Rachel said, “We’re having lobster tonight.”
I laughed and said, “I know, I’m the one who went swimming last night and caught them.”
I thought she was kidding and that was one of my typical witty responses. (You probably wish you could be around this kind of side-splitting humor every day, huh?)
After work today, however, I noticed that Nadia began preparing a meal. I was surprised because I assumed we would go out and get something. When she completed the preparation I saw that not only did our delicious Valentine’s Day dinner include lobster but it included steak, as well!
It was both the surf! …And the turf!
Some of you are probably thinking, “Wow! Dan do you realize how blessed you are?”
The answer is: Yes, I do.
By the way have I mentioned, lately, that I bought Nadia a puppy last year for Valentine’s Day?
Okay. I just wanted to put that out there.
Happy Valentine's Day to my beautiful, gracious, generous, patient, loving wife!
The alternative to love—and the vulnerability that comes with it—is to allow our hearts to become hard, calloused and cynical. This is a path we can choose, however, it will diminish who we are as people, it will diminish our capacity to be caring human beings, and it will diminish God’s authentic work in us.
To have a tender, caring, loving heart is an important part of what it means to be alive. To have a cold, hard heart is the onset of death.
I believe it is better to suffer some pain and some heart ache—even though it can be incredibly difficult—yet still have a heart that is open, tender, soft and caring; a heart that is capable of love. That means we will have to be ready to experience the pain and keep moving forward, anyhow.
We were created for life. We were created for love.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends!
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
I feel bad for Brian Williams. I know he blatantly lied and is now dealing with the consequences of that error and I understand people should be held accountable for their behaviors. But when I think of a person being embarrassed by his own wrong-doing I can’t help it. It saddens me. Maybe it’s because I know full well the reality of this truth: There but for the grace of God go I.
But there is another issue that occurs to me, as I think about this story: One of the most important aspects of life has to do with who we are becoming. This may sound incredibly simplistic, however, what we bring to our families, our jobs, our relationships—for that matter—what we bring to every experience of our lives is the person we have become. In fact, a key part of our purpose in life has to do with who we are becoming.
For followers of Jesus one of the main objectives of life has to do with who we are becoming. Specifically, we are in an on-going process of becoming more like Christ.
I bring this up because this episode in Brian Williams’ life, though obviously painful, is an opportunity when it comes to the matter of who he is becoming. Mistakes of this magnitude can seem earth-shattering when we are going through them, however, they can often be some of the most powerful and effective catalysts for growth. Mistakes can be powerful and effective catalysts for becoming better, wiser, more mature, more compassionate, more humble, more honest about ourselves.
You might be thinking: “You must be kidding me, Dan! Are you really offering up this pathetic ‘who you become’ stuff in light of the kinds of problems Brian Williams is dealing with?”
Here are a few brief excerpts from a book titled “Why Jesus Matters,” by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz:
“…Jesus matters in the realm of health and medicine because he inspired compassion in people to attend to the sick and dying. The love of Christ…has prompted scientists, physicians, nurses, and missionaries to bring medical help to people around the globe.”
“Under the auspices of the Christian church (through the Council of Nicaea), the first organized establishment of hospitals began in 325 A.D. In the United States, the forerunners of hospitals were ‘almshouses’ started by the Quakers. The leading historian on the creation of hospitals in America is Professor Charles E. Rosenberg of the University of Pennsylvania, who has said early hospitals in the U.S. were ‘framed and motivated by the responsibilities of Christian stewardship.’”
“The predecessors of modern nurses were women who joined convents specifically to attend to the sick and dying. Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing was a devout Christian woman. She began her work in a Christian commune in Germany…”
It is true that Christians do not always behave in a way which is consistent with the teachings of Jesus. I have been in the church my whole life and have been a pastor for over 20 years and I don’t think I have ever met a Christian who would deny this reality. However, it is also true that in response to the authentic presence of Jesus in their lives, countless Christians over the past 2000 years have reached out with compassion, mercy, hope, and very practical help that has resulted in profound, widespread, life-changing good in our world.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Last night a friend sent me an article which explained George Washington’s policy regarding chaplain’s pay in the American army. (This goes back to the 1770’s.) It was a fairly lengthy article that I will not attempt to summarize here but the bottom line was that for reasons having to do with the importance of faith and with matters of religious liberty Washington felt that chaplains were important to the army.
The info described in the article provides a helpful indication of the way in which one of our nation’s key founders, George Washington, viewed the importance of faith in God and the role it should play in life.
One of the ways the concept of separation between church and state has been misunderstood is that people have come to believe the idea means a person’s faith in God should be completely private and not play any role in the public sphere of life. Actually, the original intent of the concept was meant to prevent the state (government) from mandating or coercing any particular practice of faith.