Friday, January 30, 2015

E-Flash From Dan, January 30, 2015

Dear E-Flash Friends:

What’s the best way to spend Super Bowl Sunday?  That’s an easy question to answer.

First, you get up and come to a thrilling and inspiring church service!  Then you go watch the game.

You thought I might say that, huh? 

I know a lot of people are excited about the Super Bowl but I’m excited because we are starting a new 4-week series this Sunday, February 1st.  The title of the series is, “Putting First Things First” and it will deal with getting some of the foundational issues in our lives in place.

The first week of the series we will look at something very important Jesus spoke about which is found in Matthew chapter 6, vv. 31 & 32. The title of the message is, “Seek First The Kingdom.”

The worship team is planning some terrific music that will point us to the One who is worthy of our praise. God will be glorified and I believe you will connect with Him if you come.

Also, I’ve had a fairly interesting week and I’ll share a little bit of my experience with you.

You won’t want to miss it!

Looking forward to seeing you this Sunday.

Love and blessings,

Dan


P.S. You can be assured that nothing at the church has been deflated.  Everything is being maintained according to official church league rules.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Urologist Visit

I went to see a urologist today regarding the kidney stone adventure that I’ve been enjoying this week.

(See how I’m trying to approach all of this with a happy, optimistic attitude?)

He came into the room where I was seated and said, “What can I do for you?”

I said, “I’m hoping you can help me never to experience something like I experienced last Monday night.”

He said, “Are you talking about the pain?”

I said, “Yes, I am.”

He nodded and said, “Well, we will try.” 

He had observed the CAT scan disc which I brought with me from the hospital in Decatur, Illinois.  He told me, “You have two very small kidney stones, one in each kidney.  And then you have the third larger kidney stone—that’s the 6 millimeter stone.”  He went on, “The larger stone has already traveled to your bladder.”

I cringed and with fear and trembling said, “Okay...”

He said, “Now that the larger stone has reached the bladder passing it becomes much easier.  It has already traveled through the most difficult parts of its journey.” He added, “Since it’s in the bladder passing it will probably not be very painful.”

I perked up, but still feeling some caution said, “But it still has to take a… um… a… you know… a certain… uh… path to get completely out. Won’t that last part of the journey be the worst part?”

He said, “No, actually that probably won’t be too bad.”

We talked about that further in some detail but I won’t describe that part of the conversation in this post because I’m a sensitive and discreet kind of guy.

A huge wave of relief came over me. “So, I’ve probably already experienced the worst of the pain?”

He said, “Yes.”

With a big smile on my face I said, “You’ve just made me a very happy man.”

He smiled back and said, “Well, I do my best.”

I left his office with a grin on my face, a spring in my step and a stone in my bladder.

I now have a strainer so we can determine if the stone is passed. 
I have my pain medications in case they are needed. 
I have a virtually unlimited supply of water—which I am supposed to drink in voluminous amounts. 
And I have the hope that the worst part of the pain of my kidney stone adventure is over.

I’m feeling pretty good!

By the way, thank you to everyone for your prayers. It has really meant a lot to me to have your love and support.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Being A High Integrity Person

For those of us who would like to be involved in high integrity relationships it is helpful to ask ourselves this question: Am I a high integrity person?

Unfortunately, we happen to live in a culture that encourages us to blame others for our own faults and shortcomings. Instead of taking responsibility, we are encouraged to see ourselves as victims… and look for ways to lay the blame on someone else. So, if we are not involved in high integrity relationships we are tempted to think: What the heck is wrong with all these people? How do I manage to always find these losers?

We will serve ourselves better by asking questions like these:
What do I need to do to grow in my relationships?
How can I be a trustworthy, honest, loyal, helpful, friend to others?
How can I be the person of integrity God has called me to be?

We have to be high integrity people in order to have high integrity relationships.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Kidney Stone Adventure

Yesterday morning, as I was driving to Decatur, IL (central IL) for a pastor’s retreat, I began to experience some discomfort that quickly turned into a significant amount of pain. Fortunately, though, after a while the pain passed and, basically, went away completely.

I thought, “Well, I don’t know what that was all about but it seems to be over.”

(This is the kind of brilliant thinking for which I am known far and wide.)

Last evening after the dinner provided at the retreat, sure enough, the pain returned and very quickly it became severe. It was a sharp pain in my lower abdomen and the right side of my lower back. I thought about trying to drive home but as the pain worsened I realized I would never make the 2 and a half to 3 hour drive home.

There is a couple at the retreat, Everett and Cindy, who are medical professionals and after speaking with them, we determined by the nature of the symptoms it was likely I had a kidney stone.

The pain became so severe—it was by far the worst pain I have ever experienced—that I was driven by my friend Eric (on very icy roads) from the back roads of the retreat center to the Emergency Room of St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur. Everett came along with us, as well.

At the hospital blood work was analyzed and a CAT scan was performed. It turns out I do have a fairly large kidney stone.

(By the way, if a person tells you kidney stones are incredibly painful, believe it.)

Since we now had a diagnosis of the problem, the ER doctor came into my room and said, “You cannot stay at the hospital.”

I said, “Huh?”

He said, “We are going to be releasing you.”

“But I still have the kidney stone,” I said.

He said, “I know but that’s how it works, these days. We will release you with some super-duper fun pain meds and you will need to make an appointment with a urologist to deal with this further. Because of the size of your kidney stone it is not likely you will be able to pass it without having it broken down into smaller pieces.”

Sounds like a blast, huh?

Fortunately Everett, who is a Physician’s Assistant, was in the room with me and was able to be my advocate.

So at approximately 1a.m. I was discharged from the hospital and driven by Eric to a 24 hour Walgreens to get my prescriptions.

This morning Eric insinuated I may have been a bit loopy on that drive back to the retreat center.  (That probably explains why I was wearing my underwear over my head when I awoke this morning.)

I was able to get some pain-free sleep last night. But this particular adventure is not over yet because I cannot drive due to the super-duper fun pain meds so we are working on how I will get home. If you know someone who could give me a lift with a helicopter that would be much appreciated. (My helicopter needs a new sparkplug.)

What occurred last night reminded me, again, what a blessing it is to have friends who will look out for you and help you. God gave me three helpful guardian angels last night who made my very painful situation much more bearable: Everett Shaw, Cindy Shaw and Eric Livingston.  I am grateful, to put it mildly, for their kindness and love.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Could Have Had A Crown

One of the young women who works at the Burger King in this photo approached me when I was standing near the beverage counter. She picked up some empty food wrappers and a cardboard crown that had been carelessly left on the counter. 

Then she said, “I know who left this stuff here.”

I didn’t even know for sure whether she was talking to me, or not.  She was not looking in my direction.  But I went ahead and responded to her, “You do?”

I was concerned she was going to accuse me of making a mess for her to clean up.

She said, “Yeah, it was that group of teenagers who just left.”

Somewhat relieved, I said, “Oh.”

She said, “And they don’t even need crowns.”

I said, “Yeah, I guess that’s true.”

She said, “Do you want a crown?”

It’s been such a long time since I’ve been asked whether or not I want a crown that I was flattered. But I said, “No. I’m alright. I’ll pass.”

She shrugged her shoulders, said “okay,” and tossed it in the trash.

Now, I’m regretting that decision. I sort of wish I had a snappy looking crown to wear.


We Can Choose Hope And Optimism

How we respond to the events of life matters. We can choose to respond with negativity and pessimism or we can choose to respond with hope and optimism. I understand there are certain sad and difficult events that will make a hopeful and optimistic response seem almost impossible. But even in these kinds of difficult situations it’s important for us to know that we still have a choice.

Our lives will be significantly impacted by these choices.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:35


Friday, January 23, 2015

In Christianity Reason And Faith Are Both Important

There is compelling evidence for the existence of God.  And there is compelling evidence for the truth and authenticity of Christianity.  I have read the stories of intelligent, educated men and women who have come to faith in Christ, in part, because they made an intentional effort to examine the evidence and found it to be compelling and persuasive.  For example, Lee Strobel, Holly Ordway, Greg Viehman, Rosaria Butterfield, Francis Collins, Josh McDowell, J. Warner Wallace… and there are many others.  (Most of the people I just mentioned have PhD.s. One is a medical doctor. One, Francis Collins, was the head of the Human Genome Project.)

I understand it was not just factual evidence and cold hard reasoning that brought these people to faith. There was also a supernatural act of God’s Holy Spirit. However according to their own writings intellect, evidence and reasoning played a significant role in their faith journeys.

So it should not be surprising that we are instructed in the Bible to be prepared to defend our faith from the standpoint of reason. Check out this verse from 1Peter chapter 3:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

Nevertheless, it is still true that Christianity is rooted in faith.  It is a reasonable faith, not a blind faith.  But it is God’s desire that we come to Him in faith.  “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” Hebrews 11:6

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Understanding What Courage Is

Sometimes people take a bold, emphatic, public stance regarding a matter and act as if they are being courageous. And yet the position for which they are taking their stance is actually a fairly popular position. If this is the case, their bold, emphatic, public stance is not a genuine act of courage.

Yes, the person is standing up for his/her beliefs and that may be commendable. I’m simply pointing out that if the belief is fairly popular then the stance does not represent a great act of courage. Doing popular things and supporting popular issues is not an example of courage.

When a person takes a bold, emphatic, public stance on a position which is unpopular, however, that is different. Now, we are talking courage. Please understand, I’m not even suggesting that this unpopular stance means the person is correct. It depends on what the person is standing for. I’m simply pointing out a distinction regarding our understanding of courage that doesn’t always seem to be recognized, these days.


If we’re going to talk about courage, let’s at least understand what it is. Making a big show by standing for something popular does not require courage. Standing for something which is unpopular is what requires courage.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Our Best Role Model Will Always Be Jesus

There is a very human tendency to look to certain people as examples, as encouragers, as role models, and as leaders. This is normal and, sometimes, it can be helpful. There can be great value in observing and learning from others who are more skillful, experienced, advanced and/ or knowledgeable than we are.

Our inclination to look to others is definitely not foolproof, however, because people are flawed, we make mistakes, we are imperfect, we don’t always get it right, we sometimes drop the ball and disappoint each other.

This is particularly true when it comes to living the Christian faith. It is important for us to ultimately look to Jesus. Jesus is our best example. He is the only flawless role model. He is the only one who can guide us perfectly.

Again, it is not that other people will be of no value. But when we look to others as our role models it is possible we will be laying an expectation on them they can never meet. This will occasionally result in frustration for them and disappointment for us.

It is wise for us to fix our eyes on Jesus.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1&2(a)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Church Triumphant - A Great Song That Still Moves Me

When I was a kid my dad would play gospel music albums. (Often he played them very loud on Sunday mornings to wake everyone up for church.) This song, “The Church Triumphant,” for which I am providing a link, is one of the recordings from his many albums. The artists are the Bill Gaither Trio.


Bill Gaither was—and still is—one of the most prolific, successful and influential of all gospel music artists. (He makes those “Homecoming” videos that can frequently be seen on various cable channels. In addition to writing many classic gospel songs, he’s an incredibly savvy businessman.)

The original album on which this was recorded was released in 1973. I haven’t listened to this song in probably 35+ years. But as I was listening to it again today two things struck me:

1. The bluesy piano playing is outstanding. If you take a moment to listen to the recording listen to the piano player, particularly at the very beginning and at the ending. The stuff he plays is truly awesome. (There’s some pretty nice guitar work, too, although most of the time it is fairly low in the mix.)

2. There are two spoken word moments during the song. One is delivered by Gloria Gaither (Bill’s wife) and the other is delivered toward the end by Bill.

What they say about the church during these spoken moments is so relevant that it could easily have been written yesterday.

In 1973, when my dad purchased this album and began playing it I was 15 years old. Approximately 6 years later I had the privilege of playing in Danny Gaither’s band, Danny is Bill’s brother and he was the third member of the Bill Gaither Trio. Life can be pretty cool sometimes, huh?

I remember telling Danny how much I liked this song.  And I mentioned the piano playing. Danny laughed and told me that when they were in the studio recording the song they were, initially, thrown by the piano work at the beginning. The studio player (I believe it may have been a Nashville session legend named Lari Goss) was laying down such fancy riffs that they didn’t know where to actually begin singing.

Despite my dad’s influence, I never became a huge fan of the old gospel style of music. But I will admit that I cried today when I listened to this song. Even after all these years, it still moves me powerfully.


We Were Created To Take On Life Despite The Troubles

Most of the trouble, struggles, headaches and sadness I’ve experienced in life have been brought on by my own words and actions. If you know me, this is not too difficult to imagine. I think this is probably true for most of us.

With that thought in mind, the safest thing for us would be to withdraw and to say and do as little as possible. Right?  (I realize this can be a tempting option for some of us, by the way.)

But that is not the fullest, most purposeful, most effective way to live. God created us to engage with life. We were created to get in there and mix it up. We were created to live! So, it is inevitable that we will cause ourselves some more trouble, struggles, headaches and sadness. Sorry, but this is just one of those realities we need to acknowledge. And then we need to get out there and continue to speak and act, anyhow. We need to take on this life God has given us.

And when we fall down and get hurt—with God’s help—we will just have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, put one foot in front of the other, trust that He is with us, and get going again.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

This Is A Lucky Day?

I hopped in the van this morning, turned the key, and was greeted with complete silence. Nothing happened. It didn’t whine. It didn’t sort of turnover a little bit. It didn’t look at me, roll its eyes and chuckle. The van was totally dead.

When Nadia got home we took out the cables, jumped the van and drove it to our mechanic. He quickly determined that we needed a new battery. Our current battery wasn’t really very old. But if a battery no longer works then it no longer works so, even though it wasn’t very old, we needed a new battery.

(You can tell I know a lot about mechanics from that kind of sophisticated analysis, can’t you?)

When the job was completed our mechanic walked into his waiting area and said to me, “It’s your lucky day, this is only going to cost $100!”

I laughed and said, “You and I have a different definition of what makes a lucky day.”

Then we both laughed, I paid the bill and he laughed a little bit more.

When it comes to the vehicles at our house, someone else always gets the last laugh.