Thursday, September 18, 2014

Finding The Motivation For Exercise

When I woke up this morning I did not feel like exercising. Did you ever have one of those days? The energy was not there. The desire, definitely, was not there. It wasn’t intentional but I found that I was gradually talking myself out of it, grasping at every little excuse.

But then I went outside, took a deep breath and got started, anyhow. I put one foot in front of the other. And within a few minutes, you know what?  I felt better. In fact, the next thing you know I was zipping along with vigor, intensity and stamina!

I think you can tell I learned a valuable lesson, in the process, about grit, determination and commitment!

…And that’s the story of how I completed a 7 ½ minute walk today.

A Time For Action And A Time For Rest

There is a time for action, being productive and getting things done. These achievements are important. But there is also a time for rest. In fact without the appropriate times of rest the productivity tends to plateau, we lose effectiveness, and fewer things actually get done.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Selfie During The Procedure? Really?

CNN is reporting that Joan Rivers’ doctor took a selfie during the procedure in which she died.

When I encountered this information my initial thought was, “Really?”  That thought was quickly followed up by this one, “This is hard to believe.”  But that thought was very quickly followed by this one, “Sadly, I’m not surprised.”  This story is a reflection of some of the current troubles of our culture, i.e.:

We are obsessed with celebrity.
We seem to be increasingly more irresponsible.  (And this includes people in positions of great responsibility.)
We are extraordinarily self-centered.
We are losing a sense of what it means to behave with dignity.

None of the troubling matters which are mentioned above are new to the human race, of course, but it really does seem like these issues are continuing to increase in ways that are not healthy for a society.  It seems we are no longer ashamed of behaviors and attitudes that genuinely are shameful.  (I know that even using the word “shame” will seem ridiculous to some. It would be sort of amusing if someone read this and thought I should be ashamed of myself for using the word shame, huh?)

I understand doctors are human.  But I really want to believe that during a medical procedure a doctor is intensely and seriously focused on the task at hand not, “How am I going to get a fantastic selfie to share?”

There are people who are on the look-out for signs of moral decay within our culture. This story qualifies.

It's Important To Be Encouragers To Each Other

There are all kinds of circumstances in life which can be discouraging. 

You’ve discovered that, already, haven’t you?  Yeah, me too.

Events may occur in which we are tempted to think, “Oh well, what’s the point?”  Or, “why do I bother?”  Or, “nothing I do will make a difference, anyhow.”  Or, “I’m tired of trying anymore.”  Or, “Even when I try to do the right thing it, somehow, becomes an ugly mess.”

So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that over and over again in the Bible we are instructed to encourage each other.  Here’s an example, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

We all, from time to time, need encouragement.

The encouragement that is urged in the Scriptures often has to do, specifically, with encouraging each other in matters that have to do with our faith in God.  But encouraging one another in many different ways, areas of life, and pursuits is good, helpful, important and right.

God understands that we live in a fallen world and, therefore, discouragement will come our way.  We have all been in need of that word of encouragement.  So, He calls us to make an effort to be encouragers to each other. One of the nicest, most helpful, most meaningful things we can do is to be the one who gives encouragement to that person who really needed it today!  The act of encouragement really can be one of those small gestures that becomes a big deal for someone.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Being Discerning When It Comes To Polling Data

Every now and then I see “man-on-the-street” interviews in which random people at a mall or random people on a busy street are asked relatively simple, basic questions, about political issues or matters of American history.  These interviews reveal that many people are woefully uninformed when it comes to these matters.

So, when I see polls which tell how the American public feels about some slightly more complex issue I must admit I am skeptical regarding the value of such information.

If many average people cannot identify a picture of the Vice President of the United States or provide his name, what are we supposed to think when we encounter the results of a poll which tells us the opinion of the public regarding some type of policy initiative?  Are these poll results reflecting the opinions of, basically, the same folks who are unable to tell us whether or not Lincoln finished out his final term in office?

If some group seeks to influence us by reporting the results of a poll which claims to provide insight into the public opinion about a matter it would probably be wise for us to be careful and discerning when it comes to our interpretation of those poll results and their usefulness.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Making Christianity Burdensome?

Sometimes when I listen to preachers, I start to feel like the life which is being presented to me is

This doesn't happen all the time, by the way, but it does occur once in a while.

It happened today. I heard a portion of a sermon on the radio this morning which actually made me feel weary. I thought, "Oh brother, here we go!" I almost pulled to the side of the road to take a nap. (Perhaps this is one of the results of having access to too much information.)

Then this thought occurred to me, "Don't be too quick to exempt yourself, Dan, you've probably done this in your teaching, too!" I apologize for my errors in this regard.

Living the life to which God has called us is not without challenges. Jesus never promised, "Follow me and life will be a cakewalk."

(In fact I just double-checked and the phrase "cake walk" does not even appear in the New Testament. Crazy, huh?)

However, Jesus does not intend for us to carry unnecessary burdens and it is not His desire to make life miserable and oppressive. In fact, Jesus gives life He does not rob us of it.

"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." Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30
intentionally designed to be unpleasant and burdensome. Or it feels like no matter what I'm doing to try to serve God they are pointing out how there's some sense in which I'm doing it wrong.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Got My Cookies After All

Last night I posted a story about going to the new Mariano’s by my house.  In the story, I mentioned that I was going to buy a box of oatmeal raisin cookies but the check-out lines were very long so I put the cookies back on the shelf and left.

Many people told me they felt deeply saddened and spent a couple of hours crying when they heard I did not get my cookies.  It’s an understandable reaction since it is incredibly heartbreaking to discover that a slightly overweight man did not get his box of cookies.  Even now I suspect some of you are wiping tears from your eyes.

So you can understand my surprise when I walked into my office after the second service today and saw a box on my desk.  “What is this all about?” I wondered.

As I got close enough to see clearly a huge smile broke out on my face.  It was a box of oatmeal raisin cookies from Mariano’s!  I began laughing.  These words were written on the box:  “Pastor Dan.  Enjoy!”  It was from my friends Voe, Karen and Matt Zintak.

What a great surprise!  And the cookies are REALLY REALLY good, I might add.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift Voe, Karen and Matt!

Love and blessings, Dan.

I Really Am Thrilled When People Go To Church... No Kidding!

This past week a friend said to me, “I’m thinking of going to church this Sunday.”

I said, “I would be THRILLED if you did that.”

My use of the word “thrilled” was not, in any way, an exaggeration.  I really would be thrilled by my friend’s attendance at church.  I would be thrilled because I care so deeply for this person.  And I would be thrilled because a church (which is technically people, not buildings) is blessed whenever new people come to share in the experience of worship.

Perhaps this goes without saying, but I will say it, anyhow.  I would be thrilled if any of you who live in the Chicagoland area would come to our services today, as well!  We have been planning and praying and we are already believing God has a terrific blessing in store for us!

First Church of God
4600 W. 111th Street
Oak Lawn, IL
Services at 9am and 11am

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Checking Out The New Mariano's

A new Mariano’s store opened this week about 4 blocks from my home and I’ve been hearing so much about it that I decided to go take a look.  I went to the store at 7:45 on a Saturday evening because I didn’t want to go when the place would be extremely crowded.

When I arrived I discovered that the place was extremely crowded.  (I’ve never been good at predicting how people will spend their Saturday evenings.)

I will admit it is a nice looking store and it smelled really good in the area where they cook things.

There were lots of free samples of food being offered.  At one point, a young woman approached me with a tray and said, “Would you like to try a sample of turkey, cranberry, walnut salad?”

I said, “Sure.”  And took the little cup.

She said, “It’s good, isn’t it?”

With a little grin I said, “It’s hard to tell from that small sample.  I may have to have another one.”  Then I chuckled.

She laughed and said, “No.”  And walked away.  I’m pretty sure she was joking around.

I wasn’t actually doing any shopping, I was just there to see what all the buzz was about.  However, I did pick up a container of oatmeal raisin cookies from the bakery.  When I got to the cashier area I did a double-take.  Every one of the lines were very, very long.  At least five shopping carts long.

“Oh no.  I don’t think so.” I thought.  “I’m not waiting in any of those lines just to get some cookies.” So, I put the container back and left.

I have a feeling Mariano’s is going to be just fine even though they missed out on the vast profits to be gained from my $3.59 in cookie sales.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bland Homogeneity, Sameness and Political Correctness

I think it may be possible that political correctness and the attempted thought control that goes with it has contributed significantly to a kind of bland homogeneity in thinking and communicating.  There is a bored sameness I am often encountering these days with books, movies, TV, radio, blog posts, magazines, talk shows and other forms of communication.  In fact, I think, in some ways, political correctness is contributing to our culture losing some of its creative edge.

I listened to a podcast a while ago in which it was suggested that stand-up comedians and radio shock jocks are more cautious about what they say nowadays.  I know this might be an odd point for a minister to be making but hang with me for a minute while I try to explain this a little further.

I’m not trying to defend all the things stand-up comedians and shock jocks say.  I’m quite certain people in both of those fields say lots of things I would find to be rude, offensive, inappropriate and just plain wrong.  However, it was interesting for me to hear people who have been involved for a long time in both of those fields talking about being in a cultural climate in which they understand they must censor some of the things they would say.  We’re talking about people who have historically been precisely the ones who would say all the things people know we’re not supposed to say.  They were the rebels who didn’t give a rip.  They were daring.  They were intentionally outlandish and outrageous.

These are the very people who push the boundaries.  These are the people who say what other people may secretly be thinking but would never in a million years speak out loud.  They find the odd things to poke fun at in all the various areas of life.

Please understand, I am not suggesting that if we simply allow stand-up comics and radio shock jocks to be even more vile, ugly, insulting, demeaning and outlandish the bland homogeneity in thinking and communicating will end and creativity will flourish.  In fact, I wrote this essay several months ago and have been hesitant to post it because I’m concerned I will be misunderstood.  I simply refer to that podcast discussion as an illustration.  It is an illustration of the stifling power of political correctness in our culture.  The point is that even for the people who were among the most likely to push boundaries the thought and speech police are having some effectiveness at shutting down free expression.

Think of it this way, if stand-up comics and shock jocks have some hesitation when it comes to speaking their minds what about the average guy who may have an opinion that doesn’t fall within the carefully defined parameters of the cultural watchdogs?

We talk a lot about being tolerant of different opinions and viewpoints but in some ways it really seems like we are becoming less tolerant.  Certain ideas and positions are correct and other ideas and positions are not correct. If your ideas are not the correct ones, we all know you better keep your mouth shut and be careful.

And my theory (it is just a theory, I’ve been wrong before) is that this has an effect.  I realize this is not the only factor, however, this politically correct censorship is a contributing factor to a bland homogeneity of thinking and expression.  I think it is possible that years and years of political correctness is even having an effect on creativity.

Fortunately, there are still some voices that are fresh, creative, interesting, unique, courageous, authentic and surprising.  Freedom of thinking and freedom of expression still exist.  I find myself searching for those voices, even when I disagree with them.  They challenge my thinking.  And at least, they’re not dull.  They are still out there.  I am more and more thankful for those brave voices.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

E-Flash From Dan, September 11, 2014

Dear E-Flash Friends;

I’m excited about the Fall Kick-Off this Sunday, September 14th.  We’ll be starting a new preaching series titled: Powerful Prayers.  In this series we’ll be looking at some helpful, effective and important prayers we find in the Bible and learn the truths they reveal, as well as, how they apply to our lives.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

The worship team has been planning, practicing and preparing.  They have a terrific time planned for us.  I can already picture us on our feet singing and making a beautiful expression of praise to the Lord!  I might even throw in a couple of dance moves.  You never know!

I truly hope you will be joining us.  And there is still time to invite a friend.  Would you pray about that possibility and take the risk of inviting someone?

You won’t want to miss this start to a new ministry season!

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!

Love and blessings,


It Is Important That We Do Not Forget

As the years go by it becomes easier and easier to forget…

The tragedy of that day.
The shock of that day.
The sadness of that day,
The courage of the first responders that day.
The feelings of unity that we experienced with our fellow citizens that day.

It is important that we do not forget.

September 11, 2001