Monday Morning Musings …

Around here, school begins on Wednesday. That means that yesterday was the last day, of the last weekend before school begins. The bad news is that as might be expected attendance was down. The good news is that God still showed up and moved in our worship. As for my musings …

-In my 10:30 church we had a special time of prayer over our students and school personnel who were in attendance. It made an impression on me that we have someone represented in so many grades and so many schools.

-My wife is gone for a couple of days on a personal prayer retreat.

-This past week saw me head out of town on 3 different days to visit 3 different people in the hospital. We have several people who are awaiting tests, having procedures or important appointments this week as well.

-I am very excited for some of our fall plans. There are a few new groups and classes that will begin in September. I am also pumped about the next sermon series that will begin the second Sunday in September. This one is going to make a difference in the lives of many people and in the life of our church.

-Heading out to see my Dad next week and will be meeting my brother there. Haven’t seen my brother since January.

-Still praying for my son and daughter in law to receive their government clearance and visas for their current missionary assignment.

-Heartbroken over the violence and hate that was on display in Charlottesville over the weekend. Racism and any form of elevating any group over another is wrong.

-I received word over the weekend that a dear relative, a cousin of my mom’s, passed away. This lady and her husband held a very special place in my heart and life. They helped me, and housed, me one summer while I was taking some masters classes. Years later my son was an Assistant Pastor in their church and we continued to have contact with them.

-I am headed back out of town to the hospital again today. I love the opportunity to serve and hopefully encourage people when they are going through difficult and uncertain times. Serving as a pastor is a privilege and joy.

-My Cubs are still in first place, but I feel that they do not have a good hold on that position at all.

-I have a church board meeting tonight. I love the leaders I get to serve alongside.

Here’s hoping you find someone to encourage today.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Not sure what was going on with our weather yesterday. I am so confused. The calendar said August 6, but the temperature never got above 70. I think the weather messed with a lot of people because our attendance was down at both churches. As for my musings …

-In the afternoon yesterday, my churches participated in a community Backpack Giveaway. It was an effort among several churches and the police department to get backpacks and school supplies to elementary and middle school students whose families could use some help with back to school expenses. It has been a very good cause. The weather messed with the event. It was supposed to be a pool party and backpack giveaway. However, the cool weather and the forecast of rain closed the pool. We were still able to give the backpacks away and help a lot of students and families.

-At my 10:30 church there was a family who attended for the 3rd Sunday in a row since our VBS. That was a very encouraging sign.

-This week there is a party/reception for a husband and wife who are celebrating their 90th birthdays. It is being called a “9th Decade” celebration. They are special people. He is a retired minister and prays over me every Sunday before our worship service.

-School begins in 9 days, so the aisles in many of the stores are crowded with parents and students who appear to be both anxious and excited.

-At my 9:00 church I informed them that my ministry with them would finish at the end of the month. I had already informed the District and church leaders a while ago that I felt it was the right time to leave. When I began that ministry and we agreed to evaluate it after 1 year. It has now been a year and a half. I will still be at my 10:30 church.

-Last week my wife and I attended another funeral. It was for the brother of a lady in our church. It was her only sibling and they had been very close. I feel so bad for her. I have attended, or participated in, too many funerals this year.

-This week my wife and I will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary. I am more in love with her today than I was 42 years ago. I couldn’t imagine doing life without her. We are both very busy on the actual day of our anniversary, but I am sure we will find some moments to remember and celebrate. Our 10:30 church blessed us with a card and a love offering. They are so kind and generous to us. We are blessed.

-I have been working on a sermon series that will begin the Sunday after Labor Day. I am really excited for this series and the possibilities that I believe could result from it.

-I am preparing for a wedding next month. It is for a young lady who was a part of my previous church. It will be good to see some special people and participate in a very special day. This morning, during my personal time with God I came up with the challenge for this couple and their wedding.

-Still praying for my son and his family for the government clearance and visas for the new country in which they are ministering.

-My Cubs are still in first place, but I am comfortable with it. They have too inconsistent all season. But, they are still the World Series Champs. It feels great to be able to say those words.

Here’s hoping that you find some time this week to reflect and celebrate something that is significant in your life.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a wonderful day of worship, outreach and fellowship. I am still smiling as I reflect on the day. As for my musings …

-The Sunday after VBS is often a down Sunday. My 10:30 church had their VBS celebration last Sunday with incredible energy and high attendance. Yesterday was a very good day of worship with good energy. The attendance was lower than last Sunday but not much below our average. A family that had not attended our church before our VBS were back again yesterday!

-Last evening, we had a VBS follow-up celebration. We rented out our public city pool for our church and targeted all the kids and families we reached in VBS. It was a huge success. The attendance was outstanding. Everyone had a great time. Most of our VBS kids were there and some brought friends. The kids brought parents and some grandparents. There were several adults there who have not been to our church. Our people mixed well with the new people. The weather was almost perfect. Every family of a VBS kid got a DVD with highlights of the week of VBS. I had some great conversations with parents I had never met before. It was an outstanding event.

-Our worship time at my 9:00 church was good and our attendance was good as well. Our VBS for that church begins this evening.

-On Friday, I took a stress test and everything looked fine. Nice to get confirmation that I am okay. At least physically.

-On Friday evening my wife and I sat with my Associate Pastor and his wife and brainstormed about some classes and groups for this fall. I am very excited about the ministry opportunities and the involvement of other people. God is up to something good around here.

-A good friend, fellow pastor and prayer partner is moving out of the area today. It was difficult to say good-bye. He is retiring and I am happy for he and his wife. I am really going to miss them. Technology will allow us to stay in touch. One of our connecting points is that we both have a child and family serving as a missionary in Africa.

-I am very encouraged by the number of people who are sharing with me that their prayer life is increasing and how they are touching others as a result.

-I will finish my current sermon series within the next 2 weeks. It has been a good study and challenge. I am even more excited about the next series of messages. As the Lord guided me toward this next series it was a definite “God moment”. Within a few minutes, the whole 6 week series was laid out with scripture and some illustrations. I believe this series, if I share it as God intends, can make a huge impact in many people’s lives.

-This summer has been the busiest summer of ministry that I can remember.

-My son, and his family, now know where they will be ministering for the next year. We have been praying fervently for them to know where they will serve. Now the prayers are for the government clearance and visas for that country.

-I am very appreciative for the leadership of my District Superintendent. It is encouraging to know that your leader is a quality person who has leadership skills, a compassionate heart and seeks what is best for the pastor and the church.

-Next week my wife and I will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary. I am more in love with her today than I was 42 years ago.

-The school year begins in 16 days around here. I see a mix of excitement and dread. Who do you think is excited and who is dreading the beginning of a new school year?

-My Cubs are finally back in first place!

Here’s hoping that you are finding something to be excited about, and that you will share that excitement with someone else.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings (brief) …

Yesterday was an outstanding day. So many good things taking place right now. As for my musings …

-My 10:30 church finished VBS with an outstanding time of worship and sharing in our worship service. Many of the 54 kids who attended VBS showed up for the service, and brought some family with them. We shared that at least a dozen kids accepted Jesus as their Savior. They kids sang their hearts out. I loved the energy. The theme for the week was shared and I shared with the congregation that the kids brought in over $1,600 for 2 different mission projects. They provided the cost for schooling for a girl in Kenya for the next year and they purchased 2 large tents for churches who are meeting outside in the Philippines. When the adults heard how much the kids had brought in for others, they added to the total and made so that we will be purchasing 3 tents for churches. I am rejoicing this morning as I reflect on the week and the day.

-My wife and I had 3 of our grandkids with us last week and they attended our VBS. They loved it so much they were asking their Mom and Dad if they could stay a few more days to be a part of the Sunday morning celebration. That is a great testimonial for our VBS workers.

-Last evening, my 9:00 church hosted a Missions rally for the all 7 churches in our Zone. We had good attendance and they missionaries shared an enlightening and challenging message. I was especially interested in hearing these missionaries. They are from Ethiopia and I have a grandson who was adopted there. They have been serving in Kenya which is where my son, daughter in law and family have served.

-Today I will drive the missionaries a couple of hours up the road to get them to their next event.

-A week from today my 9:00 church begins their VBS.

-A real answer to prayer is how well our air conditioning units held up during VBS given the extreme heat we had all week.

-The volunteers who served during VBS were incredible. We had at least 40 people who helped some throughout the week and most them helped every night. It was awesome to watch them care for the kids, connect with other volunteers and share the love of Jesus. Some of the volunteers used vacation time to serve.

I am going to have to cut this post a little short since I have a couple of errands to run before I head out with the missionaries. Here’s hoping you have a week of encouragement.

 

Dennis

Monday (not quite morning) Musings …

Got a late start on this today, therefore I can’t call it Monday Morning Musings this time. The reason for the late start was that we have 3 of our grandchildren with us for a few days. They will be participating in our VBS and we get the joy of having them transform our house for a while. So, it is a win, win. As for my musings …

-Yesterday was a good day. In my 10:30 church 20+ children shared a song in worship. We had a special time of prayer for VBS and especially praying a blessing over the workers. We had good attendance and the building is decorated and ready for the beginning of VBS this evening.

-One of the impressive things about yesterday was seeing that our VBS workers stretched beyond the width of the platform and not everyone was in the sanctuary when we had this time of prayer. I love seeing so many people coming together to make a difference in the lives of kids.

-As seems to be the norm for our VBS times, the weather will be very hot this week. We have asked for prayer for our air conditioning system.

-I spent the night in the hospital on Friday. I had had a few times of feeling very flushed on Thursday and Friday. I just didn’t feel right and had some slight discomfort in my chest and when I checked my blood pressure at home it was very high. Sooooo, we headed to the Emergency Room near midnight on Friday. They kept me overnight to observe and run multiple ekg’s and blood tests. Everything came back fine and within 3 or 4 hours my blood pressure dropped back into the very good status. I am awaiting a call to schedule a stress test sometime this week. I got out Saturday afternoon and I preached on Sunday at both churches and have felt fine.

-I am praying for several children to be impacted by Jesus this week. Praying to see some children accept Jesus as their personal Savior. Praying that some children will feel the call of God to pursue Christ in ministry. Praying for some parents to be drawn to Christ because of the testimonies of their children.

-I am in awe as I walk around my building and see all the work and creativity in the decorations that have transformed our building for VBS. As my wife posted online last week, “our people rock”. Many people have already given dozens of hours just in preparation for the kids.

-We lost another dear saint last week. She and her husband served as evangelists for many years all around the world. He passed a few years ago. When I first arrived here, she still played the piano a little in our times of worship in her late eighties. She was in failing health before I arrived and has been unable to attend church for almost 3 years. She was a sweetheart. Even at the end, whenever I visited her, she was so encouraging and sweet toward me.

-On Friday evening, I participated in a Celebration of Life event for a young man from the community who died way too soon. I am praying for his parents and siblings as they adjust to this new reality.

-I am spending a lot of time planning for this fall. Looking at small groups, special studies, prayer groups and sermons. I am excited about what will be taking place.

Here’s hoping you recognize the joy of serving and that you encourage someone else with your service this week.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a very uplifting day and we experienced a powerful time of prayer at both of my churches. God is obviously ready to do more through us in our community, if we will take the next right steps. As a bonus, we received some much needed rain overnight. As for my musings …

-I anointed, and prayed for the healing of 13 people in total from both of my churches. The sight of people surrounding and laying hands on their friends as we all prayed for each person was a powerful experience. I loved the support from those who came forward and prayed with those who came forward for healing. Last Sunday I preached on using our freedom in Christ to pray in all situations. Yesterday we stepped out in obedience to James 5:14.

-There was a wonderful spirit in our worship times yesterday. I believe the anticipation of our prayer time contributed to the sweet spirit. Why don’t we come to worship with that same type of anticipation, that God is going to show up in a powerful way, each time we gather together to worship?

-The building of my 10:30 church is being transformed in preparation for our Vacation Bible School which begins next Monday. The platform has been transformed to look like an inventor’s workshop. We have tools, rockets, robots and even giant Lego pieces.

-I am excited for my son, and his family, because tomorrow their kids will all be with them at the same time for the first time in about 11 months. They had 1 in college and 2 in a missionary boarding school since last August. I imagine there will be some rejoicing and storytelling going on. There might even be some moisture in the eyes of the parents.

-Yesterday we looked at the freedom to serve others that we have as followers of Christ. I am excited to see people seeking more ways to serve the people around them.

 

-We had a good number of children in attendance yesterday at my 10:30 church. That is awesome!

-One of the greatest things that takes place through our Vacation Bible School is the dozens of adults, and youth, who serve the children. The relationships that come from serving together are often very meaningful. We also communicate to the children, and their families, that kids are important to us.

-I am praying fervently for the spiritual impact on the lives of children during VBS. Will you join me in this prayer?

-I am looking forward to the chaos and energy that will be a part of VBS.

-We have been in a bit of drought the past couple of months. The rain that came during the night and this morning was very refreshing. Even if some winds came with the rain and knocked down part of a privacy fence around our deck.

Here’s hoping you find a new way to serve this week.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was wonderful and unfortunately, it also felt like a lot of holiday weekend Sundays feel. Attendance down, not a lot of energy and people looking around at empty spaces. I still give the day thumbs up, not big thumbs up, but still positive in many ways.

As for my musings …

-My sermon yesterday was intended to be a “stand alone” message. That is a message that is not part of a series of messages. However, while I was finishing it up on Saturday and even as I ran through it on Sunday morning, I knew that it was really the beginning of a series. It deals with the freedom we have in Christ. Each week we will look at one aspect of our freedom in following Christ. We are Free To _______ and on that Sunday, we will look at what scripture tells us to do with that part of our freedom. Yesterday we looked at prayer. I got kind of fired up about it, especially at my 10:30 church.

-People seemed very engaged in the message yesterday at both of my churches.

-My wife was out of town yesterday. She was visiting some of our grandkids and she attended worship with them. An added bonus, was our son in law leading worship for their church.

-I preach better when she is here, however I am glad that she could get away and spend time with part of our family.

-After lunch, I went to the hospital to be the Chaplain. I was filling in for another pastor who is on a trip to Israel. Part of my time was spent visiting briefly with a lady who will probably not be here much longer. Those are special, and difficult, moments.

-After the hospital, I met a family at a cemetery for a ceremony to bury the ashes of a man whose funeral I did in February. I still miss him, especially when I look at the spot where he always sat on Sundays.

-Then I went and visited with a couple in their home. He is having a procedure done this morning. I wanted to be able to pray with him before he left for that procedure.

-We have an invasion of beetles, I believe they are Japanese beetles, in a couple of our trees and bushes. Thursday evening, I put up a beetle trap. It attracts the beetles and then they fall in a bag from which they cannot escape. I changed the bag 8 times in 72 hours. The bags were full, to overflowing each time. Hopefully, that starts slowing down. It is both gross and cool, at the same time. My wife only sees the gross part and doesn’t understand how any of it is cool. I guess I haven’t completely outgrown my little boy fascination with bugs.

-Last Sunday my wife and I left for the General Assembly of our Denomination. This is an event that people from all over the world attend to share, report and do the business of our denomination. It was wonderful and inspiring. The business aspect began with 1 hour of prayer! No wonder the Assembly went so well.

-I received a call late last Sunday evening that a lady in one of my churches was unresponsive and being life-flighted to another hospital. The next morning, I got the call that she had died. We ended up coming home a couple days early to be at the visitation and then for the funeral.

-Vacation Bible School for my 10:30 church begins 2 weeks from today. The building is beginning to show the signs of VBS as some decorations are going up all around the building. Excitement is building. My 9:00 church begins VBS in 4 weeks. Who says that summer is slow down time?

Here’s hoping that you are excited about something today and that you will share that with someone.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was an outstanding day in so many way, heartbreaking in one way and a disappointing day in couple of ways. As for my musings …

-I am currently in another state attending our denomination’s quadrennial General Assembly. Several thousand people from all over the world gather in one place every four years. We celebrate awesome stories of God working in mighty ways. We worship together in many languages. We fellowship with new friends and old ones as well. Church business is taken care of and we elect some of our highest denominational leadership. It is something that I look forward to attending whenever I am able.

-Just after getting back to our room last night I received a phone call about someone in my church who was rushed to the emergency room in bad condition and then life flighted to a larger hospital. I tracked down some more information after a few phone calls and connected with a leader back home who also made contact with some of the family. (My Assistant Pastor is also at General Assembly through today.) Praying fervently today for this precious lady.

-Yesterday we celebrated communion in both of my churches. Our attendance was down in both places but the Spirit of the Lord was evident and we rejoiced in remembering what Christ has done for us.

-There was an unexpected visitor early in the morning. A deer wondered out of the cornfield nearby and sauntered around the church yard and parking lot for several minutes. Then after deciding to try a different place of worship the deer bounded through the cornfield away from our church. It was quite a sight. I love visitors at church, don’t you?

-Minutes after the service ended at my 10:30 church my wife and I were in our van and headed to General Assembly. We were packed on Saturday night.  The van was loaded before leaving for my 9:00 church and less than 4 hours after pronouncing the benediction we pulled up to the convention center where General Assembly is in full swing. The drive was only 3 ½ hours. The real news is that we were out of the church so quickly. We normally are there for 30 minutes after the finish of worship. Talking with people and then shutting things down since we are the last to leave.

 

-I love sharing in communion. I love sharing what Christ has done for all of us. I love seeing the faces of my people as they remember their own faith journey when they partake of the elements of communion. Communion is always a special time of worship.

-I am hoping to see a few friends that I haven’t seen since the last General Assembly.

-Looking forward to hearing more about what God is doing around the world. It is one thing to read it in an email or on a website, it is more impactful to hear it in person.

-Praying that it rains back home and that it doesn’t rain here, or at least doesn’t rain during the day when we are walking back and forth to the convention center.

Here’s hoping that you recognize the presence of Christ today and that you share that with someone else.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a day of beautiful weather, a good time of worship, great fellowship, and fun moments of remembering and honoring. As for my musings …

-It was great to speak with my Dad for a few minutes and wish him a happy Father’s Day. He sounded pretty good. My step-sister sent a couple of pictures of him and my step-mom from their time together yesterday. It was great to see the pictures and see that they looked good.

-It was humbling and fun to hear from my kids on Father’s Day.

-Father’s Day, is often a low attendance Sunday, which has always frustrated me. However, yesterday my 9:00 church was up in attendance and my 10:30 church was right at their average.

-We had an outstanding spirit all through the worship service at my 10:30 church. We had a couple of times of meaningful prayer and even had some people who came to the altar during singing to unload some burdens. The service at my 9:00 church went well.

-My 10:30 church a huge Father’s Day breakfast. It was made, decorated and served by the ladies. (The men did the same for the ladies on Mother’s Day.) Many people enjoyed a delicious breakfast and good fellowship. At least that is what I was told and what pictures of the event revealed. It took place while I was at my 9:00 church. I was given a plate of food from the breakfast to have later.

-In the afternoon, I met a family at the cemetery to spread the ashes of a loved one whose funeral I did a couple of months ago.

-Tomorrow I will do a funeral, the 3rd one in 10 days. Only one of them has been someone in my churches. The other two are people in the community who did not have a pastor. After only doing 3 or 4 funerals my first 3 years here, the funeral on Tuesday will be my 7th this year.

-I was encouraged by the discussion, and interactions, that took place this past week in the Fatherhood Class I help teach at the prison. It is great to see growth in some of the men and to observe them prodding one another in their relationships with their children and families.

-I am looking forward to attending some time at our denomination’s General Assembly next week. This is an event that takes place every 4 years. Ministers, missionaries and lay people from all around the world gather for times of worship, celebrating and business. I am always encouraged whenever I can attend. It is a few hours away. We will have the vehicle loaded before church begins. Then we will leave as soon we can after the last amen.

-There are several people in my churches who are facing some very serious physical issues. This week, at least 3 of them, will be undergoing some very serious procedures. Lots of prayer and concern going on.

-Vacation Bible School is less than a month away in my 10:30 church. Decorations, and props, are being built and showing up in the building almost every day. The excitement is building. Praying for changed lives, among the students and the workers.

Here’s hoping you are excited for what God is doing in your life and that your excitement will influence someone else this week.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a very difficult day for me. In fact, it was a somewhat difficult week, but that is not what my musings are to be about on a Monday morning. As for my musings …

-My presentation of the sermon yesterday left much to be desired. I had a great early morning time of prayer and a good practice run of the sermon. But I allowed my mind to get twisted about some stuff and it spilled over into my presentation of the message. I am flawed. I, and others, are painfully aware of the fact that I am flawed. I hate when my flaws interfere with the message. The good news is that God is still God and He can speak clearly to people’s hearts when I don’t speak so clearly.
-Attendance was remarkably low in my 10:30 church. My 9:00 church ended up with about our average attendance, but they arrived very late.


-Saturday, I did a funeral for a local family that did not have a church connection. It may seem odd to some of you, but I like to do those. It gives me a chance to meet people I don’t know and to help them at a critical time. Those are opportunities to show the love and compassion of Christ.
-Also on Saturday, I received an early morning message that a person in my church passed away. We knew it was coming but it is still a loss for that family and her friends. We will have that service later this week.
-At my 10:30 church we had our first meeting for those who are interested in serving in our Vacation Bible School. It was a very encouraging meeting. It was encouraging because of the number who have committed to serve and by the enthusiasm and passion to serve the children that was evident. It is difficult not to be enthusiastic when you are talking about VBS with the lady who is our director. This will be her 3rd year of leading VBS and she absolutely loves doing it and loves the kids. She thinks about VBS most of the year. She takes vacation during VBS to give everything she can to the kids and volunteers. It is so much fun to serve with people who love what they do.


-Yesterday afternoon I had a board meeting with my 9:00 church and tonight I have board meeting with my 10:30 church.
-There has been some flu type bug going around recently. It seems weird to me for that to be happening in June. Hoping that it ends soon, too many people have been suffering from it.
-I had a scare on Thursday evening. We had trouble renewing our subscription to some of our office software recently. I thought we had resolved it. Then I got an email just before I went to bed Thursday that said due to complications we would no longer have access to all the office software that we use. That got my attention. I tried to get to some of the programs that we use and I could not use them. It took a few minutes, but I was able to resolve the issue. Then I went back to the program I use for all my writing and sermons. I could not fine my folder with my sermons and I just about finished the sermon for that week. Panic began to rise up within me. After another several minutes, I located the folder and everything was intact. However, I was now wide awake. I believe got about 3 ½ hours of sleep that night.


-This morning mind keeps going back to something in the verse Colosssians 3:12. That we are “dearly loved” by God. What a powerful truth. We, you and me, are “dearly loved” by the one who created us, but the one gave everything for us. It is even more remarkable when you realize that He knows all our flaws, and still we are “dearly loved” by Him.
Here’s hoping you live today with confidence because you are “dearly loved”. Pass it on.

Dennis