Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a very different day. It was the week after a huge day of celebrating our VBS, which is often a difficult Sunday. As for my musings …

-We continued to celebrate as we studied scripture, Ephesians 4:11-16, and rejoiced that we have been chosen. Chosen to be a child of God, chosen to serve, chosen for a purpose, chosen to grow and to love and support others. We have much to celebrate and be encouraged by each, and every day.

-Our building looks bare now that all the VBS decorations have been taken down.

-Yesterday was the last Sunday before kids go back to school and many people were gone.

-We have many people who are currently recovering from illness, surgery or procedures and many who are awaiting test results. Praying for all of them.

-Last week my wife and I were able to get away for a few days. This time was spent with our daughters, son in laws and 5 of our grandkids. It was a wonderful time. We also missed my son, daughter in law and their 5 kids. We all rented a house on a lake. It was a great set-up and one that we will likely go to again.

-Because of vacation for a few days last week, my preparation time was shorter than normal, but it felt like I was able to focus more quickly with the time I had. Thanks to those who were praying for my shorter than normal prep time.

-Last Thursday was our 43rd wedding anniversary. Like many of them through the years we had other stuff going on that day. Good stuff, but other stuff. I had to some back home for a volleyball practice, so we didn’t see each other until almost 8:00 pm. We celebrated by playing some games with our kids. (We always play games when we get together.) It was a good celebration. Between coaching, church camps and church stuff we have had very few anniversaries where it was just the two of us. But we love our life, so it was all good.

-Yesterday our church honored our anniversary by giving us a card signed by most of the congregation with cash in the card. My church is great at making us feel special. In fact, they spoil us.

-Yesterday I acknowledged all the people who serve in any capacity in our ministries. I wanted the church to realize, and be encouraged by, how many people serve every week. I wanted those who serve to know that what they do helps us fulfill our purpose.

-This week volleyball season kicks into a more regular schedule of afternoon practices and very soon matches will take place every week. I am excited and looking forward to it, but I am certain I will have an adjustment period.

-This week another group of men will finish the Fatherhood course I help teach at the prison. This has been a great group and I will miss them when they finish. I will continue to pray for them and their children.

-In September I will lead a men’s group here at my church about Fatherhood. Not because I have it all figured out, but because it is too important to ignore. Much of the material will be the same as what we use at the prison. I am excited about this and praying that many men will participate. This will be for current fathers, future fathers and even grandfathers. This is a great opportunity to learn from, and build some support with other fathers.

-Here’s hoping that you will be encouraged today as you remember that you have been chosen by God to be in His family. It is your choice to accept or reject, but you have been chosen. Let that truth encourage you.

 

Dennis

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Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was an awesome day! So many great things took place and I don’t believe I have heard about all of them yet. As for my musings …

-Yesterday we celebrated our outstanding week of Vacation Bible School in several ways. In the morning during our worship the kids sang 5 or 6 songs that they loved from the week of VBS. There was a skit from 2 characters who were with us at VBS, the skit was a great summary of the week. My wife recapped the lesson where the gospel was presented, and several kids made the decision to receive Christ. We showed a video highlight of the week. I shared for 2 or 3 minutes and we gave each family a DVD that showed highlights from each night of VBS. It was a great morning. And, it was a great time of worship and celebration.

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-VBS went very well last week. It was one of the smoothest I have ever seen. We averaged 50 kids and had 61 different kids attend. We had plenty of workers and our volunteers did an awesome job.

-Yesterday, during one of the children’s Sunday School classes, 4 children prayed to receive Christ as their Savior. On top of that, 2 children who are already following Christ prayed for the other children as they accepted Christ!!! They are already participating in discipleship.

 

-We had over 145 in attendance for worship the past 2 Sundays.

-Last evening, we rented the city pool for an hour and a half for another time of celebration, and fellowship, for VBS. It was a blast. There were parents and siblings who do not normally attend who were part of the celebration last night. The weather was perfect as well.

-During VBS, the kids gave $969 in offerings. All this money is being given away to help kids and families in other countries, or communities. Seeing the joy on the kids faces, and hearing their cheers, as they heard how much they were giving away was inspiring.

-We collected school supplies in the month of July. Our people gave enough to fill 40 backpacks to help elementary students who might not have had supplies otherwise. These were handed out yesterday as part of backpack giveaway with several churches in our community.

-Another encouraging thing during VBS was that we had several teens who helped. That is significant because we haven’t had teens in the past. Now we have several, and they are serving.

-Yesterday we added a class for 5th and 6th graders. This is because our children’s workers have been doing such a great job in reaching children, and retaining them, that we now have enough of them for a class. They will begin a 5th and 6th grade group on Wednesday nights when our new semester kicks off in September. Last fall my people began mid-week ministries for children and youth. This was a new thing for us. They began with 1 children’s group and 1 youth group. In September we will have a preschool group, an elementary group, a 5th and 6th grade group and a teen group. My people are awesome.

-I am looking forward to teaching a class on Fatherhood this fall on Wednesday evenings.

-This morning my wife and I will head out to spend a few days with our daughters, sons in law, and 5 of our grandkids. It will be a great time. We will miss my son, daughter in law and the other 5 grandkids.

-Later this week will mark the 43rd wedding anniversary for my wife and myself.

-I enjoyed watching several people lead during our VBS. My role was basically one of cheerleader, and I loved my role.

Here’s hoping you find someone to encourage this week by cheering them on and that someone will cheer you on as well.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years – Let’s Celebrate …

Next week my wife and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary. We generally do not have a big celebration on our anniversaries. On our 25th there was a reception that our kids and some friends did for us. On our 30th, our kids and grandkids (we had 4 at that time, now we have 10) surprised us with a special day of activity and then a renewing of our vows with just the family present. At the renewal each of our kids and kids in law wrote something for us and read it to us. That was a memorable celebration for sure.

There have been other times when the church we were serving did some type of celebration for us. But, most of our anniversaries have found us involved in other activities. For a few years we helped direct a teen camp and it always fell on our anniversary which meant we celebrate in the camp cafeteria. This year will be the 17th in which I have coached a fall sport, which means that many years part of our anniversary was spent at some type of practice. This year will have some of the same. I will have volleyball practice and then we will be with our stateside kids and grandkids as part of a few days together. Maybe we don’t do big celebrations on our anniversaries because we celebrate our relationship often. There are times of cards, flowers, special little gifts, or love notes several times a year.

I think that celebrating is a key to a lasting relationship. Look for things to celebrate and create some things to celebrate. I have always done this, not only in our marriage but also as a pastor, as a coach and as a parent. I love the little celebrations along the way. I am not opposed to a big celebration, but I think too many people only do big celebrations and they miss the joy of the little celebrations all year long.

So here is an early shout out to my wife, Happy 43rd Anniversary (a week early) honey! I love you and I love doing life with you. Here’s to several more years of celebrating together.

Here’s hoping that all of you find something to celebrate today.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a very good day at our church and it kicked off what I anticipate will be an outstanding week. As for my musings …

-All our Vacation Bible School decorations and props are in place and the church looks amazing. There wasn’t much room for me to move around while I preached yesterday. We have a large wrecked ship, a large Tiki hut and several other items on our platform. It is awesome. The hallways are all decorated and there is even a tunnel to get into the story room. Makes me wish I was a kid again.

-We remembered, and paid tribute to, 3 of our members who passed away in this past year. It was a perfect day to do that because all 3 of them loved kids and loved seeing children at church.

-We had a special time of prayer specifically for all the VBS workers.

-We have over 40 people helping in some capacity this week. That is a phenomenal response from the adults and teens in our church.

-The theme of VBS is Shipwrecked and the purpose is to teach the children that God is a rescuer. My message yesterday was on the Promises of Rescue we have.

-There was good energy yesterday when the service began. It started with the theme song of VBS, then a skit that introduced what the children will be learning this week and it was great. We had some congregational singing and people were engaged. Our time of honoring our members who have passed was very special and the time of prayer was great. Our children were the greeters at all the doors today and they were the ushers during the offering.

-Our attendance was very good.

-We are rejoicing that we now have a new roof on the church and the parsonage. The timing was great because we finally got some rain yesterday.

-The weather has been very mild the past few days, which allowed my wife and I turn off the A/C and have the windows open for 3 days. That is unheard of at the end of July.

-We are still raising the money to finish paying for our new roof. The faithful giving of our people, and the wise stewardship by our church board, allowed us to have a major portion of it on hand before the project started. Now we have a few weeks to raise the rest.

-Missing my kids and grandkids who are serving in Africa a lot right now.

-Looking forward to spending some time with our kids and grandkids who are stateside next week.

-Praying a lot for some of the ministries, and groups, that we plan to begin after school begins.

-Last week was the finish of summer conditioning and open gyms for volleyball. This week is a dead week as far as contact with the players. In 9 or 10 days we begin tryouts and then regular practices. I am excited for that to begin.

-Praying that many children will come to faith in Christ this week. Praying some children will sense a special call from God for ministry. Praying that many families will be drawn to Christ by what they see and hear from their children this week. Praying for adequate energy for the adults who are serving in VBS this week.

Here’s hoping that you have some special times of prayer this week and that you sense you are being prayed for by others.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years #7 …

If you are going to make it to 43 years together you better learn to like each other and to like being with each other. This might not sound like much of a secret, or key factor, in getting to 43, but it is a big deal. You love, and choose to love, each other to get to 43, but you must also like each other. Liking each other, and liking to be with each other, is not automatic.

Liking each other has to do with enjoying them and enjoying being with them. To enjoy your spouse, you need to know your spouse. What do they enjoy doing? What makes them laugh? What makes them cry? What are their fears? What is their dream vacation (even if you can’t provide it)? What annoys them?

You need to be a student of your spouse. The beauty of this is that after 43 years I am still learning. We are in a different season of our life than we were 20 years ago, and even 5 years ago. This means that some things change, but the changes are easier to adjust to because of how much we know about each other.

Liking your spouse and liking to spend time with your spouse, does not mean you pretend there is nothing that annoys you, it is recognizing that we both do annoying things and choosing to not let those things disrupt the relationship.

Liking to spend time with your spouse means that being with them matters more than what you are doing when you are with them. Yesterday afternoon, on my day off, we went to a local park and sat by a lake for a couple of hours. We took lawn chairs, a cooler and we each had a book to read. Most of the time was spent reading and some of it was spent talking. What mattered most was that we were with each other. It was a very enjoyable time. At other times we have fished together, or gone shopping, or played a game together. The activity is secondary, being with each other is primary.

Liking each other is a choice. Liking to spend time together requires you to be together and that often requires some planning. Look for what your spouse enjoys and seek for ways to help make this happen. Then seek to join them in what they enjoy. You will notice that you may begin to enjoy it as well. Even if you don’t enjoy the activity, you will enjoy being with your spouse as they do something that they enjoy. This will definitely raise your likeability factor as well.

Being with each other will happen naturally because you are married and living in the same spaces. Being near each other is not the same as enjoying time together. Enjoying spending time together must be a choice. You will spend time together, so enjoy it. Make that choice. Plan to spend time together. There are a lot of things that interrupt and interfere with your schedules, make sure that you choose to spend time together and realize that you like each other and let your spouse know that you like being with them.

Here’s hoping that you enjoy being with your spouse and that this week you create time together.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a good day for many reasons, the top one being that I was back home after a few busy days away. As for my musings …

-Our church is being totally transformed as the Vacation Bible School decorating has now spread to the hallways and is moving into many of the classrooms. The platform in the Worship Center is now completely taken over by VBS decorations. I love it. I had to adjust as I preached yesterday, but I love it.

-Our worship service went well yesterday, and the congregation was engaged in all parts of the service.

-The attendance was good.

-Yesterday evening my wife and I went out to one of the town’s beautiful parks and had a nice walk. It was great to be together with no appointments. The weather was perfect. We made this walk about 3 weeks ago and my wife couldn’t quite make it all. Last evening, she walked the whole thing and felt good when we finished. Fourteen weeks after double knee replacement and she is going strong.

-Thursday, Friday and Saturday I was out of town to help assess some prospective church planters. I went through training to be an assessor and then participated as one of the assessors. It was an intense and wonderful experience. There were five prospective planters and their spouses involved in this event. They were great people and I believe all of them will do well. I loved getting to know them and look forward to seeing what happens with their plants over the next couple of years.

-My 9th grade volleyball team finished their summer league with a .500 record. That is significant because we were playing in a league where the other teams were junior varsity teams with all, or mostly, sophomores on the teams. With summer schedules of vacations and camps, I only had my whole team for one of the weeks. It is great to be coaching again.

-Our grandson who is studying in South Africa this semester, finally got his luggage. When he arrived in South Africa his luggage did not. A few days later it arrived, but he had to begin with only what he was wearing on the flight and a little in his carry-on.

-This morning a roofing crew will be arriving to replace the roof on both the church and parsonage.

-Next Sunday we will introduce the theme of our Vacation Bible School and let the adults get a glimpse of what the children will be learning. We will also be honoring the memory of a couple of people from our congregation who passed away recently. It will be a great time of worship that will highlight how we finish life and the joy of life.

-The past two weeks have been very busy for me. I am looking forward to a week where I will not be traveling. I have many scheduled appointments, but it pales in comparison to the past couple of weeks.

-I purchased a barbecue/smoker 2 weeks ago and haven’t been able to use it yet. I am going to use it this week for sure, anyone hungry?

-One of the best things of being a part of the church planter assessment last week was seeing 2 or 3 of them gain confidence and discover something in themselves they didn’t know was there. It was exhausting, and it was exhilarating.

Here’s hoping that you will look to help someone discover something about themselves this week that will give them confidence.

 

Dennis

The Secret to get to 43 Years (#6) …

Whenever my wife and I have had big decisions to make in our marriage we always came up with what we called our “non-negotiables”. These were items that needed to be present for us to go ahead with a decision. Sometimes these non-negotiables helped us not stress over a big decision because one of our non-negotiables was not available in what was being considered. As soon as we realized that then we stopped processing the possibilities and said no. We knew it wasn’t for us. A secret to our lasting 43 years and still growing and loving each other is our number one non-negotiable, that our marriage would be Christ-centered.

No matter what your belief system is you must decide what matters most to you and your spouse. You need to work on your own non-negotiables. Take some time and talk about it together. Some things on your list will be fluid. Some things will change as circumstances in your life change. One dynamic example of things changing is if you have children. Major changes will impact some things on your non-negotiable list. But there should be some things on that list don’t change no matter what. For us the top of the list not changed.

The top of our non-negotiable list is that our marriage will be Christ-centered, that divorce is not an option and that we would be a team. Without these non-negotiable items I am not sure where we would be today. Non-negotiables are not a magic formula, but that are a great foundation. This foundation is what we have built our marriage on and continue to build it today.

What are your non-negotiables?

For us, because the top of our list was that our marriage would be Christ-centered we filter our decisions through the Bible and prayer. This keeps us centered on Christ and keeps our decisions in line with Christ in action and thought. This has made all the difference for us. I would encourage you to consider following this course for your marriage.

We declared from the beginning that divorce would not be an option for us. I realize that making that declaration does not guarantee there will not be a divorce, but because this was one of our non-negotiables we never spent time contemplating it. We both agreed with this declaration. We both had examples of parents who were in it for the long haul. This laid a foundation for us that when there were problems in our relationship we did not consider divorce, instead we worked to resolve our issues.

The other top item on our list was to work as a team. At first, we didn’t really talk about this we just did because it seemed natural and it seemed like the smart way to live. We have been doing it for 43 years and it is still working. This has been true for my time as a teacher and it continues to this day as a pastor. For all the years I have coached, and the three years that she coached, we have worked together. We were a team while raising our children and at each stage of our 43 years we have been a team.

What are your non-negotiables?

It is difficult for me to separate these top items on our non-negotiables. Because we have made our marriage Christ-centered, that has empowered us to not consider divorce and to work as a team. The beauty of our non-negotiables is they have saved us a lot time and worry. There are many things that come to us as options, and most of them we don’t spend time considering because they don’t match our non-negotiables. For each option we start with our non-negotiables, does this line up with our list? If not, then we are done considering it. If it appears to line up with our top items, then we consider it and see it if it matches our other needs. Either way it makes our decisions much easier and less stressful.

What are your non-negotiables?

Here’s hoping that your foundation is solid and that you will be in your relationship for the long haul.

 

Dennis

Monday Evening Musings …

It is now 5:00 PM as sit down to type this post. Yesterday was a very different day, because I was not at our church. It was a vacation Sunday, but not a day without responsibilities. As for my musings …

-I took a vacation weekend to spend time with our volleyball teams at a summer tournament. It was a fun experience, but it made for a confusing day for me. Not being at church always feels strange and being in a gym added to the strangeness. We had a good day and I am seeing some of the girls make great strides this summer.

-I was gone from church but my wife was there and gave me a great summary of the day.

-The lady who preached for me did a good job. She shared about her new ministry in a nearby town that is reaching a difficult area of that city. I am a big fan of hers and our children will be giving some of their VBS offerings to support her and this new ministry.

-My grandson made it to South Africa over the weekend, but as of this moment his luggage has not made it. That is going to make beginning his college semester a real adventure. Appreciate prayers of this situation.

-It was nice to be out of town for 3 days and my wife was able to be with me for most of it. She came back to where the tournament took place yesterday afternoon and we stayed an extra night. We needed some away time in a different setting. I love this woman. We headed home this afternoon, but for a little while it was just us.

-Our church building is being taken over by decorations for VBS and I love it.

-Last evening, I received an update about a recent prayer request that had me rejoicing and smiling with great joy. I love when people come together and agree in prayer.

 

-This afternoon I went to visit a man from our church that had some setbacks after a recent surgery. It was good to see him, spend some time talking with him and to pray for him. I came away from the visit encouraged.

-We are in the process of lining things up to have the roof on the church and the parsonage replaced very soon. Watching the weather forecast to line up 4 or 5 good days in a row.

-I will be heading to three days of training later this week. I will be learning how to assess church planters and how to encourage them in the process. I am looking forward to this even though I expect it to be an intense time of training.

-Though I wasn’t at church yesterday I did receive the prayer requests that were handed in on our connection cards. I keep them in my Bible and do my best to pray over them each day.

-This past week I took some time to marvel at the opportunities God is giving me to make an impact and have some influence with many people in our community. I am thrilled and humbled as I reflect on these opportunities. I am also filled with an overwhelming realization that I need God to be in control or my impact will have no meaning and my influence will be of no value. This is another reason that I know I need to pray more.

-I have received some encouraging words this past week. Some of them from people who have encouraged me in the past and one of them from someone who stepped out of their comfort zone to encourage me. Just another reminder of how powerful encouraging words can be for all of us.

Here’s hoping you seek to encourage someone this week and that in so doing you will be encouraged yourself.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#5) …

Another secret/factor to getting to 43 years of marriage is wearing the right kind of glasses. Seriously, what kind of glasses you wear has a big impact on your marriage. Think about it, what is the purpose of wearing glasses? To improve your vision. I realize that it is now trendy to wear glasses that have no power to impact your vision. But I am talking about glasses that impact, influence and even change your vision.

Several years ago, my wife and I were in a store and my wife was searching for something. While she was searching I was finding ways to entertain myself and anyone else near me. (For some reason my wife doesn’t always like for me to go shopping with her.) I saw one of those stands holding reader glasses. Those five-dollar type glasses that come in a variety of magnifications. I put on a few pair and was laughing at how goofy I looked. I put on a pair and went to find my wife to show her and get a laugh from her. After the laughs I turned to go put the glasses back and then it happened. I looked at some signs in the store. I took the glasses off and looked at the same signs. I put them back on and realized I could see letters and numbers much clearer with the glasses on. Shortly after this incident I went to an eye doctor and I have been wearing glasses ever since.

I discovered when I got my glasses that my vision had been impaired. Some things that had been blurry became clear and headaches I had learned to endure disappeared. All because I finally was wearing the right glasses.

Whether you physically wear glasses, or contacts, is not the issue to a lasting marriage. What is necessary is for you to have the right vision of your spouse and marriage. You must view your spouse accurately and I believe there should be a definite rose-colored tint to your vision. I don’t believe you should be blind to reality, but you must have a positive view of your spouse, and your marriage, to make it last.

I don’t mean that you should ignore serious issues. Issues of abuse, of anger, of abandonment and more must be addressed, change must take place and outside help is needed.

I am talking about seeing that your spouse is not perfect, focusing on the positive in them and working to improve your own issues. I am talking about not dwelling on what is irritating. Too often I see, and hear, couples complaining about things with their spouse that irritate them, which results in them missing the big picture. They complain about a toilet seat left up and ignore the faithfulness. They gripe about a less than pristine house and ignore the support they are given. They moan about all kinds of things and refuse to look at all the positives and the possibilities in their marriage.

We need to wear the right glasses in our marriage. We need to see clearly and accurately, but we must have a tint that brings our focus to the positives. We need to put on the glasses that remind us of why we were first attracted to our spouse, beyond just looks. Because looks change over time. My hair is much different than on our wedding day. I have much less of it and what I have left is a different color. My body has changed. If our marriage only lasted the length of time the looks stayed the same, we would not have come close to 43 years. For my wife, she must view me with a focus that takes many other things into consideration and I do the same.

My point of all this is that you must see your spouse clearly with focus on the positives. If you wear magnifying glasses that only see the flaws, you and your spouse will be miserable, and your marriage will not last.

What glasses are you wearing in your marriage?

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday had many elements of a typical summer Sunday, as for my musings …

-There was a great spirit during the music and prayer time of worship. Then it felt like it went a little flat early in my message. Fortunately, it seemed that by the end of the message the atmosphere had rebounded some and the finishing music went very well.

-We changed our worship service order slightly yesterday. Maybe that had some impact on the up and down feeling during the service. I like to have the order of our worship changed periodically so that people do not just go through the motions because they know what is coming next. The danger is that people get unsettled by changes, so you must find the right balance for your congregation.

-Our attendance, for what is considered a second consecutive holiday weekend, was reasonable. It was down, but it was reasonable.

-My wife and I went for a walk at one of our local parks that has some lakes and some nice paved walking paths on Saturday. That is significant because my wife was not able to do that last summer. Now, less than 3 months after double knee replacement, she was able to go there and walk. We didn’t measure it exactly, but I am certain that we walked a little over a mile. That is a huge praise.

-My oldest grandson will fly to South Africa later this week to begin his semester of college studies abroad. I admire his desire to serve others and his willingness to be stretched in his studies.

-We begin our Vacation Bible School three weeks from tonight.

-Our weather was much milder this past weekend. It was about 10 degrees cooler and we received some much-needed rain last week.

-Today is my 11th consecutive day of going to our local hospital to serve as chaplain. Normally I serve 1 day a week. But the other 3 chaplains were all gone at the same time for a 2-week period. I agreed to help as much as I could. I have enjoyed getting to minister to some patients for a few days in a row. That is something I don’t normally get to do. However, I am weary and ready for the others to get back. They will cover for me a couple of times in the upcoming weeks.

-This weekend was difficult for me. I heard difficult reports about several situations from around the world and in the lives some people I know personally. I am not sure why some of it hit me as hard as it did this weekend. I spent a lot of time in prayer over the weekend about these situations.

-I have been spending some time working on the message plans for this fall.

-I am enjoying writing the posts about Secrets to get to 43 Years. Each Wednesday for a few weeks I am sharing a key factor, or secret, about getting to 43 years of a growing and loving marriage. In a month my wife and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary.

Here’s hoping that you grow in your relationships and encourage someone else today.

 

Dennis