Pastor's Blog
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November 24, 2014, 1:00 PM

Time Flies.........PERIOD!

So it was one of those bitter cold mornings last week. I was on my way to the church and had stopped at the stop sign at the end of our street. As I looked both ways, a bird flying into a bush across the road caught my attention. Now I know birds fly in and out of bushes all the time, but on this particular frigid morning, I took more notice than usual. Why? Because the bird looked like a robin to me. Do you know what immediately went through my mind: spring is on the way!!!!! Mind you, this occurred in the third week of NOVEMBER. Winter has not even officially arrived. I didn't force myself to think about spring. I didn't choose that option from other possible responses, having weighed all of them carefully. It simply happened as I turned the corner. And I thought, "Wow. Time not only flies in real time - it flies in imaginary time too!"

Multiple times in the last few days I have heard something like, "I can't believe Thursday is Thanksgiving." It does seem that the years are passing a lot faster now that I'm in my 50's. (I can hear many of you saying, "wait till you're 60!") Soon it will be Christmas Eve. At what will seem like a blink of an eye everyone will be dressed in red for Valentines Day. With a few more ticks on the clock we'll be shouting "He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!" And those little orange breasted beasts will be prancing all around our yards once again.

To this warp speed life we can't seem to escape, the psalmist offers an interesting prayer: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12, NIV) A really good prayer, in and of itself for the light speed lives we tend to live. As the days fly by like freight train cars running on the track at full throttle, help us, God, to work hard at living the preciousness of each day we're given. Verse 12 takes on even more meaning when it's connected to verse 10: "The length of our days is seventy years - or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." (NIV) Life is - in fact - a temporary thing, whether we like it or not. Early in life our "days" seem too numerous to count, and then in what seems like the length of a breath, there's more of them behind us than there are ahead of us.

"Thanks, Pastor, for those wonderfully uplifting words..." Well, I don't share them to bring you down in any way. I share them because the Lord is graciouly helping me to celebrate every moment I am given. To celebrate the moments, we must first recognize how precious - and how fleeting - they really are. Only then can we be truly awed and blessed by the gift that another day really is.

Friends, this Thursday IS Thanksgiving!! A day that - by God's grace - we are given to pause and celebrate God's generous provision for each of us, our families, and our nation. LIVE this Thanksgiving, sisters and brothers - don't just endure it. Realize the gifts that the people you love, the freedom you enjoy, and the breath you draw really are. Do it NOW, not when you're not as busy or when you get around to it or the next time you see them. Why? Because before you know it, we'll be saying "I can't believe Thursday is Thanksgiving," only the year will have a five at the end instead of a four. "Teach us to number our days..." And remember...

Keep Lookin' Up!
Pastor D.



Comments

11-26-2014 at 6:19 AM
Kelli
I've been living through the same feelings. I've been appreciating walking everyday with Jesus and seeing His mighty hand in my life. I've been appreciating my precious children more and more realizing the short amount of time I will have with them before they're "all grown up". I've been appreciating my strong husband who works so many hours for us. Thanks again for the reminder to hold on to each moment God gives us here to be a witness for those around us, and to be thankful in everything! (Especially as I am preparing for "the morning rush".
11-24-2014 at 9:34 PM
Kelly Swatzler
you have such a way of describing things in such an "everyday way". Thank you for making the complicated understandable & put to use in our day to day lives
11-24-2014 at 3:23 PM
Pat Mann
Enjoying my Caf'e Mocha at McD's while having conversation with some acquaintances, the topic was how "time flied!" Later today as I began packing for our trip to VA to be with family for Thanksgiving, I was sure to add a book Jane Allen lent me by Billy Graham, "Nearing Home" (on life, faith & finishing well). Turning to chapter 1, was the title, "Running Toward Home." with the scripture verse: Psalm 90:12 - teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Hmmm? Were both of these a coincidence, or a GOD-incident. Definitely, the latter. I'm always encouraged by your writings, Pastor. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Blessings, too.
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November 17, 2014, 12:00 AM

Performance Based Living

It is Sunday evening. I am sitting in our living room thinking about the morning worship times, specifically the sermon part of those experiences. I often do this on Sunday evenings - review what I said and how I said it before I turn the corner and begin work on the next message. Usually there are some smiles, and prayers of thanks for a few things that went well. But the reflections are often dominated by thoughts like, "I could have said that better." or "Did I really say THAT?" or "Darn it - I left that illustration out." or "That point could have been a little clearer." or "The whole thing was too long." I know - I can hear some of you saying, "Don't be so hard on yourself." And sometimes I hear myself saying that. But as one who is constantly trying to improve, trying to give his absolute best to the Master, critical self-evaluation is extremely important for improvement. 

The danger in this process is that there is a hair-thin line between self evaluation and self abuse. We can beat ourselves up at times about the should-haves and the wish-I-would-haves to the point where our self identity gets wrapped up in whether or not we have performed well - even perfectly. And how we feel about ourselves - postive or negative - spills over into all other areas of our lives - families, friendships, careers, attitudes towards life in general. The fickleness of performance based self image can lead to a host of challenges for us ranging from deep depression and hopelessness on one end, to downright arrogance on the other.

I am grateful for a God who constantly finds creative ways to remind me of who I really am, not who I feel I am based on whether or not I have performed well. Texts like these are bedrock for a healthy Biblical self image: 

"Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1Peter 2:10)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1)

You and I are accepted by God because God says so, not because we have performed or not performed well enough. That's not to say self reflection has no place in our lives. It's where we start the reflection that matters: as a child of God seeking to deepen one's experience of God's grace, or as a man or woman that hopes to qualify for grace somewhere, somehow, sometime before its to late.

I imagine my Sunday evening sermonic reflection times will continue into the foreseeable future.....but God, help me remember I am your child, whether I get it right or not. That's my prayer for you, too: remember you are a child of God not based on getting it right or wrong, but because God in Christ claims you as one. 

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

12-16-2014 at 2:42 PM
Dawn Anderson
I love the way you say "through me or in spite of me." God already has it figured out!
11-18-2014 at 8:42 PM
Sue Dreves
Love it...it reminds me of the recent sermon you preached on living from the "Inside Out." I put this up in my office to remind me that the one whose opinion matters most has already made up His mind if I am worthy enough, smart enough, talented enough, good enough,...etc. Thanks for sharing!
11-17-2014 at 9:43 AM
Beth Stanish
Thank you
11-17-2014 at 8:08 AM
Pat Mann
Wow! Coincidence, I don't think so. My BFF and I had some conversation about this same thing in the parking lot of an incident I experienced on Friday. (self examination - self abuse) Lo and behold, her words to me - comforting ,encouraging and building me up. I thank God for this series of messages the Lord has laid upon your heart, and, for those God is using in my journey with Him. As iron sharpens iron. (Prov 27:17)
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November 4, 2014, 9:00 PM

Tripping...........II

So I returned to the scene of the "Tripping Incident" this afternoon (see the blog entry dated 10/19). I had two goals for this trip: to "flag" my path from the logging road to the deer stand I will be using, and to scout some sites for my brother Tom to sit the first day of the season. I planned to place some flagging (plastic, stretchy tape like "stuff" in VERY visible colors) at a few spots that have easy access because Tom cannot walk long distances. 

I parked the car along the road, pulled on my boots, grabbed my spool of flagging, and headed into the woods. I traveled a few hundred yards and came to the first potential place for Tom. Looking it over, I decided to flag a tree to mark the spot. I tore off a long piece and wrapped it tightly around a sapling easily seen from the road. Walking on from there I marked several more places, made my way back to my stand, and a couple hours later walked back past the first tree I marked just in time to see the flagging release from the sapling and sail away in the breeze.

Now I'll be the first to say I have not flagged many trees in my life, but I am pretty sure it doesn't require an advanced degree to perform the task. Wrap it, cross it, tie it, pull it tight - not rocket science. And yet there went the bright orange plastic, floating away as though it had never been tied. As I watched it disappear, I realized that what I had thought was simply a breeze was, in fact, a pretty stiff and steady wind. I had actually tied the flagging correctly, but leaving it unattended and exposed to the wind caused the knots to loosen and eventually come apart. 

And then the Spirit of God did what the Spirit has done numerous times in my life: stopped me and whispered, "pay attention." Like unattended flagging exposed to the wind, my God connection can loosen and even come apart if I leave it alone to face the winds that batter life - and so can yours. We worship once in a while, or catch a sermon on TV or on line every so often, maybe dust off  grandma's Bible and leaf through the pages wondering about the underlined or circled parts, or whisper a prayer when our back's against the wall, and then wonder why God seems distant and unconcerned about the storm that's battering our life. Investing in our God connection sporadically is like tying the flagging around a tree and leaving it to fend for itself against the wind - the connection can loosen and may eventually come apart. The result? Life that is driven by the winds of pain and heartache and human wisdom and...just like flagging caught in the breeze. 

"The Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." (Matthew 8:23-26) Power to rebuke the wind....now that's the One I want to stay tied too....how about you? Think on these things, and remember...

Keep Lookin' Up! 

Pastor D.

 



Comments

11-14-2014 at 1:37 PM
Pat Mong
Loved your analogy, Dave! Spot on!!
11-05-2014 at 3:16 PM
Darlene Finch
Had some wind lately. Thanks for the reminder to stay tied to the One who calms the wind. Keep blogging!
11-05-2014 at 11:50 AM
Pat Mann
Which reminds me of the "forces" within each believer, the flesh against the spirit. (Gal 5:16-18). We need to keep a tight rein on what we believe and the one who we believe in. One little "slip" one loose end, and the flesh is there to pull us away. None of us are alone in this journey. Stay connected. So blessed. Thank you for sharing.
11-05-2014 at 9:32 AM
Charlene Schroder
I am glad to be able to share some long distance moments with you. Your recent reflections have hit the mark with me. It's great when the Holy Spirit makes the connection. Peace and love.
11-04-2014 at 10:59 PM
Traci Z.
Thankful to have stumbled across your blog. Had to go back and read what I've missed!
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October 27, 2014, 6:00 PM

Calling Off...

In these 30 years of ministry, it's only happened one or two times. This past Sunday maybe made three...here's what I'm talking about...

My Sunday morning alarm went off at its usual time. I got up, poured a cup of coffee, sat down in my chair and prepared for my normal morning prayer time. I closed my eyes to begin praying, and it hit me....I am REALLY tired...and then the thought that has only visited me two or three times during this ministry journey: "Wonder if I could call off of work today......???"

Now let me be clear: I love what I do. It is a humble honor and joy to be a pastor - especially one of the pastors of Christ Church. My level of exhaustion has to be significant for me to NOT want to be present on a Sunday morning. To be sure, various health challenges make me a bit more predisposed to being chronically tired. But, upon refelction, I realized I have been running full speed pretty much since Labor Day, living by that constantly present lie that a busy schedule where every moment is filled with something means I must be making a difference. And I suppose to some degree a difference is made, somewhere. But the more common result of living by that lie? EXHAUSTION...

Why do we do that? Why do we think that we have to fill every moment with something? Why do we buy the lie that to be successful in and accepted by the society we live in, there cannot be a moment left in our day that isn't chained to some activity? Why do we look to every possible source except our life priority choices to explain our constant state of exhaustion? An exhaustion that, sooner or later, will lead us to want to withdraw from even the things we love to do: "Wonder if I could call off from..................?"

Interesting that God's design for responding to a busy schedule looks a little different:

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. " (Genesis 2:2-3) "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall do no work..." (Exodus 20:8-10a)

I wonder... if I paid more attention to God's design, would the thought of calling off from.......fade away? Hmmmmmmm............

As always...

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

10-28-2014 at 8:49 AM
David smith
Brother Dave, thank you so much for sharing. Your blog really is what I needed at this time. Very thing you said is what I'm feeling at this time. Thank you again.
10-27-2014 at 10:17 PM
Lea A. Guiney
I can't imagine there are many pastors who haven't found themselves in the same place...for the same reasons. I know I have. Maybe if we were all a little more honest about admitting to it, we would do a better job of making sure we aren't so exhausted all the time.... Thanks for sharing Dave.
10-27-2014 at 9:53 PM
Robyn Ohmer
Man, my toes hurt! You keep stepping on them! I plan to get a copy of Sunday's message about servant evangelism to share at ABC's next staff meeting! Thanks for keeping it real!
10-27-2014 at 9:12 PM
Pat Mann
God didn't design us to "burn out" which makes me think of the quote by Vance Havner. "If we don't come apart, we will come apart!" Your serving, Pastor, is above & beyond. I don't know how you do "keep lookin' up" but, Praise God, you do.
10-27-2014 at 8:59 PM
Dick Shaner
6 days the Holy Spirit gives us inspiration with daily happenings so that on the 7th day, you can use those inspirations such as you did enthusiasticallly in the children's sermon on Sunday.
10-27-2014 at 7:29 PM
Anne Bakker
Not gonna lie....that thought hits me nearly every single Sunday, and often into Monday. The desire to serve (and the subsequent guilt that often follows) often becomes the "chain" of discontent for me personally. I so frequently feel that if I don't do this or that, then who will?? The answer is, if I sometimes DON'T STOP, then I won't be able to serve where He is calling me. I am learning slowly to say the word "no" to humans sometimes, and to answer "YES" to Him who calls me more frequently. Thanks for such an honest writing!
10-27-2014 at 7:23 PM
Candy Reina
Want to know how it feels to be "fed" by your pastor EVERY Sunday? Then top that off with a great blog? AWESOME!!!
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October 19, 2014, 8:00 PM

Tripping.......

So I tripped the other day. Now all you 60's and 70's kids, not THAT kind of tripping..... 

No I actually tripped and fell. I was walking through the woods with a friend. He had led the way along the trail in, and as we started to make our way out, I said something about not being sure I could find my way back to the road. He immediately said, "Then you lead and I'll follow." So I started back the way I believed to be right. We were making great progress, and I was actually quite proud of myself. We made our way across the creek without anyone falling in, and started up the bank on the other side. I was looking out ahead to see where the path was, not paying much attention to where I was walking, and it happened. I picked up my left foot and the toe of my boot caught on a stone I didn't see, and down I went.  Nothing injured, except maybe my pride. I got up quickly and we continued down the path and very soon arrived back at the road.

I've been thinking about that "tripping moment" a bit over the past few days. I tend to be a person that is always looking ahead - searching for the path forward, dreaming and envisioning where life could go in the days and months ahead. That means sometimes I am not as aware of current realities as I could (maybe should) be. Other people live life very aware of current realities, always very well grounded and in touch with the now, but find it hard to see beyond where they are and catch a glimpse of what could be. Which approach to life is the best one?

In our home we live by a particular beatitude. It's initial clause was authored by the greater part of the Janz partnership (that would be Betsy): "Blessed are the balanced..." and then I added part B: "for peace and contentment shall be theirs." I think it's a pretty good way to tackle life. We  need to be aware of BOTH where we're headed and where we are. At times, vision will play the dominant role in our circumstances, and at other times we'll need to stay grounded in the present so as not to jeopardize the future. How do we know when to operate from which place? Well that's where the gift of wisdom comes into play. Proverbs 2 says wisdom comes as a gift from God, given in response to seeking God in his Word. The more we seek God in his Word, the more tuned into God's presence always at work around us we'll be, and the easier it will become to know when to focus on the path ahead, and when to pay attention to the stones on the path in front of us. Balance is achieved as God's wisdom operates optimally in every moment of our days. 

Amazing what one can learn from falling flat on their face, huh? As always...

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

10-21-2014 at 5:06 AM
Sharon Chandler
Another great blog!! AND how I relate--one year ago I was "lost" in our woods when the CA "kids" were here--by myself when I left them to return home. NEVER again--stay with your guide--God will see us "home."
10-20-2014 at 5:12 PM
Shannon Hoffman
It's amazing how sometimes the simplest things can make the biggest impact. This was a very well - written reminder of that. Thank you!
10-20-2014 at 2:00 PM
Dick Shaner
Good observation. Wonder how many would not have fallen if they just kept track of where they were about to go. God bless.
10-20-2014 at 10:28 AM
Sandy Homer
Thank you,I needed to hear that.
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