Sunday, February 7, 2016
It is helpful to know that Jesus is always talking about real life. When we read or hear about the ideas He expressed; the challenges He issued; the truths He spoke understand that He means for these things to be lived. He is never, ever, talking about empty religious theories. He is always talking about being alive in God’s kingdom right here and right now!
Friday, February 5, 2016
Dear E-Flash Friends;
I just saw the results of a large nationwide survey which indicated that a significant majority of Americans said the best way to start the day, on Super Bowl Sunday, was to go to church. In fact, many of them expressed a strong desire to hear a sermon in order to really get the day rolling properly.
What a fantastic finding, huh? That information makes me feel terrific!
Wait a minute…
…Okay, I admit I just made up those survey results. I’m sorry. There was no such study conducted. This is just another example of my wishful thinking hard at work. But hey, can you blame a guy for trying to be optimistic and hopeful?
The truth is I’m hoping you will be at church this Sunday, Feb. 7th, because we are going to have some terrific services. I have been preparing diligently and am excited to be talking about the truth that God provides for us. Our awareness of this important reality can genuinely make a difference in our lives.
And the worship team has some wonderful music planned.
I was talking with a friend today who told me that when the worship team leads us in the services it is a time of joy! I agree.
You won’t want to miss this great chance to be joyful!
By the way, in all seriousness, the Super Bowl has a later start time this year. It starts at 5:30 p.m., Central time. So you could come to either the 9am or 11am service and still watch the game; the pre-game programming; the pre-pre game programing; and have plenty of time to eat tons of chicken wings. (Just trying to offer some helpful info.)
Hope to see you this Sunday!
Love and blessings
P.S. Coming to the services this Sunday will not result in any conflict if you are planning to watch Downton Abbey either.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
A few months ago someone shook my hand after one of our church services and I felt something other than her hand in my hand. When I looked down at my palm I saw that the paper substance which she had transferred to my hand was money. The amount of money was more than just 20 or 30 dollars. In fact, it was more than just 100 dollars.
The person who shook my hand said, “Give this to someone who is in need.”
I said, “Alright. Thank you, I will do that.”
This kind person was not looking for applause. She wasn’t looking to have her name mentioned in a service or an online post. In fact, it is clear her desire was to remain invisible. She was responding to God’s leading in her heart.
About a week later I became aware of a need and I gave this money to the person in need.
This person was extremely grateful for the help. She was simply telling me about some struggles, she was not expecting this form of assistance.
At first she said, “Oh no Dan, I couldn’t accept this much money from you.”
I said, “It’s not from me. I’m not the source of this money, someone else is.”
The woman said, “Who? Who is giving me this money?”
I thought about it for a moment and then I told her the truth: “God is.”
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Monday, February 1, 2016
It is possible to grow in love. In other words, we can grow in our ability to give and receive love. We can grow in our ability to express love honestly, graciously and practically.
Because God is love, growing in love would mean an increasing manifestation of the truth of God in our lives.
Friday, January 29, 2016
I went to visit Stan Kruszelnicki today. Stan is one of the legendary workers in our church. Stan is not able to get out and around too much these days but he’s doing pretty good for 90 years of age.
During my visit with Stan I was impressed when he told me this about his life: “If I could do it all over again I wouldn’t change one thing.”
I said, “Wow, that’s remarkable. That’s a wonderful thing to hear, Stan.”
Stan’s daughter Janet took this picture and I told him I wanted to post it online because, “Everybody loves Stan!”
He said, “They do?”
I said, “Yes. When I post this online even people who don’t know you will hit ‘like.’”
He said, “Even with you in it?”
Thursday, January 28, 2016
I’ve had several conversations over the past couple of weeks in which the discussion very naturally turned to gratitude. I didn’t suggest the topic or force the topic it simply came up on its own.
When the topic arose, my friends communicated this basic message to me: “I’m grateful for certain things in my life.”
I recognize this to be a very good attitude on the part of my friends. In fact, in recent years there has been serious academic research on the subject of happiness and it is now known that being grateful increases a person’s happiness.
Want to be happier? Be grateful for the good things you already have in your life.
Gratitude improves happiness because gratitude involves intentionally noticing and acknowledging good, positive, beneficial things in our lives. It makes sense that noticing good things in our lives would increase our happiness, doesn’t it? Some of the books on the subject of happiness even recommend keeping a gratitude journal as a specific action a person could take to increase happiness.
Even when I have difficulties and challenges going on in my life, I do not have to think too hard to come up with many legitimate reasons for being grateful. I suspect that is true for you, too.
Most of us are very blessed. Have you noticed?
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Monday, January 25, 2016
A group of us were eating lunch at Culver’s after church, yesterday afternoon.
Suddenly, we heard a commotion coming from the check-out counter. An irate customer was yelling and making a scene. The yelling continued. It was loud enough and angry enough that many of us customers in the seating area of the restaurant were looking around, whispering and wondering if this was possibly going to escalate into something more than just a verbal tirade.
Before long a police car pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant and then another police car arrived, as well.
At a certain point the uncomfortable incident seemed to be over. Although I could not see the entire check-out counter area from my seat I’m fairly certain the tense encounter never advanced to any type of physical level. And, fortunately, the irate customer left without the police having to intervene.
A few moments later a very sweet young woman who works for the restaurant came around to our table with a handful of blue tokens.
She was smiling but she also seemed concerned and a bit unnerved. She said, “We are so sorry for the disturbance that happened. Please accept these tokens for a free scoop of ice cream with our apologies for the disruption in your dining experience.”
The folks from our group very quickly responded saying, “No, that’s alright. We understand things can happen. We’re fine.”
A couple of my friends attempted to put her at ease. We understood she was in no way at fault.
I said, “I’m not upset but I will take one of those tokens for the free ice cream, however.”
And everyone laughed. That broke the slight tension of the moment. And then a bunch of other folks took the tokens for free ice cream, too.
Hey, this is a pretty good rule of thumb: Even in a tense situation you should not turn down free ice cream.
We sang a song in our services yesterday titled “I Am A Friend of God.”
I am familiar with the song. We have sung it in our services in the past and I have heard it on the radio a number of times. It’s a nice song and I’ve always liked it.
Yesterday, however, the truth which this song conveys gripped my heart in a way which has not occurred before. It’s sort of weird because I am a Christian pastor. The idea that God thinks of me as His friend is a biblical concept with which I am familiar. This is not a new idea to me.
But sometimes a truth we know becomes conscious to us and relevant to us in a profound new way and we come to “know” it in a manner we have not previously known it. I sat playing this song over and over on my computer last night and my heart was rejoicing.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
I like reading or hearing stories about people who are not religious—people who were not looking for a spiritual experience—but they have an encounter with God. Believe it or not, God is capable of surprising people in this way. Sometimes He shows up in our lives when we never expected such a meeting.
He is not concerned with the religious trappings many people value. He’s more concerned that we recognize Him honestly in love, humility and repentance acknowledging the truth of who He is.
It’s cool to hear of people coming to God and finding that unexpectedly, it is actually more of a relief than they realized.
“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
Friday, January 22, 2016
As I was approaching the “15 Items Or Less” aisle at Jewel, this morning, the cashier saw me counting the items in my basket and she said, “Aw come on in over here. I won’t throw you out of my line if you are one or two items over the limit.”
It probably helped that there was no one in her line at the time. And for the record, I had 13 items so I was under the limit.
I laughed and said, “That’s nice of you to give me assurance that you won’t be kicking me out of the line if I’m over the limit.”
She was in a great mood smiling and laughing. She said, “Hey life’s too short to be mean. I prefer being nice.”
I said, “That's a pretty good policy to operate with.”
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Yesterday I was at a nursing home visiting someone. As I was leaving, an elderly woman was shuffling into the elevator in her wheel chair. I could tell she was determined to get somewhere.
I said, “You get around pretty good in that chair.” And we both entered the elevator.
She said, “Yeah,” shaking her head, “I can still walk but they want me to use this wheel chair because I’ve fallen a few times.” She continued, “I’m doing alright for 94.”
I said, “You’re 94 years old?!?”
With a big smile she said, “Well, I’ll be 95 on Friday.”
I said, “It’s great to see you moving around and being active.”
There was a twinkle in her eye and I could tell her mind was sharp. She said, “You have to get out and do things in life. If you don’t that’s when you start to lose it. And I don’t want to lose it.”
So there are some words of wisdom for today from someone who has a lot of years under her belt and yet is still going strong.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
When I was young I wanted to be cool.
Then I got a little older and for a while I actually thought I was cool.
Then a little more time went by and I was surprised and a little stung to find out I never was cool in the first place. I thought I was, but I wasn’t. It’s quite an embarrassing reality to discover because everyone knew it except me.
Now I’m at a place in life at which I don’t know who is cool and who is not cool—I don’t even know the criteria for being cool—but it doesn’t seem to matter to me all that much.
Does this mean what I think it means? I’m getting old and crotchety?