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

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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

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#4) …

Getting to 43 years of marriage, and to have it still be loving and growing takes a lot of work. There is no magic formula and no one secret, but there are some keys and it seems many people are not aware of them. This is my effort to share some key factors, or secrets if you prefer, that have brought my wife and I to where we will be celebrating our 43rd anniversary next month.

Laughter is said to be good medicine, it is also a secret to get to 43. Where there is laughter there are happy and joyful people. Laughter is critical to get to 43, and beyond. There will be plenty of serious and difficult stuff to deal with, so laugh when you can. It could save your marriage.

I am not talking about laughing to hurt someone. I am not talking about one-sided laughter. I am talking about shared and generous laughter. I am talking about laughing and at yourself, laughing with your spouse and being okay with being laughed at on occasion.

Laughter lightens the mood in most situations. It makes you feel better. Laughter is usually contagious. When someone laughs it quite often prompts laughter from those around them. Sometimes the laughter that is created is simply laughing at the way the other person laughs. Which in turn brings more laughter.

Laughing at your spouse’s groaner of a joke, might be something that must be learned, but it can be positive. My wife has a lot of experience at responding to lame jokes and since I am a preacher, she has heard some of them many, many times.

Laughing together draws people together. Laughing together opens you up and creates an environment where it is safe to share thoughts, dreams, fears and hurts with that person. My wife often says when she is leading a group of ladies that she wants to have them share laughter and tears. When that happens, it has been a good group. But the laughter comes first.

If you want to have a marriage that get to 43, and even beyond, then you must laugh. When two people spend as much time together as it requires to have a lasting marriage, there are a lot of reasons to laugh. We do silly things we do dumb things, we get our words twisted, we forget things, and much more. All of these should produce some laughter.

The couple who laughs together seems to last together. There has been a lot of laughter in our 43 years. When our kids and grandkids gather the laughter is amped up several degrees. Each of our three kids by marriage (our in-law kids) learned very early that if they were going to join this family laughter would be required.

So, laugh a little today, or better yet, laugh a lot today. It could add years to your marriage.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#2) …

A major secret/factor to get your marriage to 43 is Forgiveness. No relationship can last, let alone grow, without forgiveness. Forgiveness is much easier to write about, or talk about, than it is to live.

 

In a marriage there are many opportunities for forgiveness. There are also many opportunities for bitterness or withholding forgiveness. When we live together, spend a lot of time together and share life together there are a lot of situations that arise that can allow for being offended or hurt. Being offended or hurt demonstrates why forgiveness is critical to a lasting, loving marriage.

Forgiveness is misunderstood. It is not pretending something didn’t happen. It is admitting it happened and that is was harmful, but you are choosing to forgive. It is not saying that what happened is okay. Forgiveness says it wasn’t okay, but my love for you is greater than the hurt. Forgiveness is not the same as trust. Depending on the depth of the hurt it may take some time for trust to be restored. Forgiveness is choosing love. Forgiveness is also choosing your relationship over everything else.

We must understand that the need for forgiveness goes both directions. Both of you will need to be forgiven and both of you will need to forgive. Forgiveness is not just for the benefit of the one who caused the hurt. It is also for the one doing the forgiving. If forgiveness is not given, then the one who was hurt will become bitter. Bitterness crushes relationships and will destroy the one who is bitter.

A lasting relationship requires forgiveness.

In our 43 years there has been much forgiveness needed and much forgiveness given. If that were not true we never would have made this long.

I have heard people state that someone who have been forgiven often will begin to take advantage of the forgiving partner. I have found just the opposite to be true. When you love someone, and are committed to them and the marriage, you are devastated when you realize you have hurt them. When they forgive you, you become determined to not do things that need to be forgiven. You remember the look of hurt in your spouse’s eyes and you sense the devastation they feel in their heart and you do not want to cause that again.

Forgiveness is best understood by looking at Jesus Christ and how he forgave.

Forgiveness is something that we must continue to learn as we continue to forgive.

Many people mistakenly think that if they can still remember the hurt then they have not forgiven the other person. We remember hurts and we often have evidence of them in our life. But we must take a cue from physical hurts. I have some scars on my body. I can tell you how I got them and about the hurt when the incident occurred. But now, the scars remind me more of the healing than of the hurt. It is like that with forgiveness. As we continue to heal, as we learn more about forgiveness, our relational scars will begin to remind us of the healing more than the hurt.

Keep forgiving if you want your marriage, and your relationships to last and to grow, it is not optional.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a wonderful, and exhausting, day. God showed up and worked where I failed, and many people helped by filling in for those who were not able to be in attendance. As for my musings …

-I am sitting at my kitchen table this morning as I type this post. I am my wife’s caretaker for a few days. She had double knee replacement surgery last Wednesday. She came home on Saturday and is doing fantastic. She is getting up and down from her recliner by herself (I am standing by her, just in case.) She walks around the house with her walker and I am just her back-up. I am keeping track of the medicine she is taking and getting food to her when she feels like eating. The pain medicine is messing with her stomach a little. I am in awe of how well she is doing. She is a rock star!

-Yesterday one of my sons in law came and led worship for us. My wife normally leads and given her current situation (see above paragraph), she is unable to do that for a little while. He came last minute because the person I thought was coming to help let me know on Friday afternoon that they would not be able to help. So, he, my daughter and 3 of our grandkids, rearranged their schedules and made the 3 ½ hour trip from Iowa to help. It was a special blessing to have all of them here. Plus, my son in law is really good at leading worship.

-Our daughter from Michigan made the over 4-hour trip on Saturday to be here when we got home from the hospital. She stayed beside my wife on Saturday night so that I could get some sleep before Sunday morning. She stayed with her while I was at church. She prepared a few meals for us to heat up before she left Sunday afternoon.

-I am blessed with a great family. With the help of technology, I was able to keep our son, and his family (they are serving in Africa), informed of my wife’s progress all week. They couldn’t come to help, but they have been praying and sending support.

-We had a few other people who had unexpected circumstances yesterday and were unable to attend and serve in their normal places. Our people adjusted, and others stepped in and did well. I love our congregation and our community.

-I did a terrible job of presenting the message yesterday. The Holy Spirit did a fantastic job of speaking to people’s minds and hearts. We had several people respond at the end of the service. God is good.

-My wife and I are so blessed to have such a caring and generous congregation. They have filled in for us this past week. They have lifted us in prayer. They have provided food, care and compassion.

-I had a funeral on Friday last week. That makes either 9 or 10 funerals I have participated in since January 1. Just like the snow that came overnight, I am ready for that to change.

-We are waiting for the home health care to come and set up my wife’s home therapy schedule.

-Burdened this morning for a couple of ministry friends who are in difficult situations. Praying that they will be assured of God’s presence and guidance. Praying that they have people come alongside them to encourage them. Praying that they will know God’s will. Praying that I can be the friend and support that they need.

-I am really being challenged by a book my District Superintendent gave to all the pastors on our District. The book is “Hero Maker”, by Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird. I began reading it while my wife was in surgery. I am about half way through the book and have marked it up and written notes in the margins. I will write more about what the book is stirring in me when I finish the book.

Here’s hoping you find someone to encourage today and that you will be encouraged by something today.

 

Dennis

Well Done Dad …

If you are talking about a steak, well done means no pink and some crust on the meat. If you are giving a compliment to someone, well done means that what you accomplished was done with excellence. But if you are talking about the evaluation of a life, well done means a life lived to the fullest in obedience of service for Jesus Christ. It means a life of impact and influence. It means a life that made other people’s lives better. It means hearing the words “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Well done describes my Dad’s life.

If a mischievous smile and a twinkle in the eye were an Olympic sport my Dad would have won a gold medal. When it came to teasing people, and still making them feel good, my Dad was a master. When it came to encouraging you to keep going and not give up, my Dad may have been the best. When it came to making you feel better just with his presence, there may have been no one better than my Dad. Well done, Dad, well done.

When it came to motivating a group of people to grow as followers of Christ and become a church that makes a difference, my Dad excelled. When it came to giving a challenge, one that you remembered, he always came through. When it came to being the pastor that you wanted for your church, it was my Dad. Well done, Dad.

When it came to living what he preached, my Dad did it better than anyone I have ever known. A person who worked with him at factory when Dad was a bi-vocational pastor said of Dad, “The direction of his walk always matched his talk.” Well done Dad.

When it came to making the loudest finger snap known to mankind, Dad was the best. If I was not listening, or if I was beginning to misbehave in church he would drop that right hand outside the pulpit and SNAP his fingers. It was so loud the whole congregation would sit up straight. My head would pop up from wherever I was and then I got the look. This is etched in my memory because I heard it more times than I could count. All of this took place without Dad missing a word of his sermon. He kept me in line, he kept me listening and he kept me interested in Christ. Well done Dad, well done.

When it came to embracing people and making them a part of the family Dad was outstanding. He did this with all of us in the family, he did this with all who entered the family, he did it with all whose family he entered and everyone who was in his church family. He left no doubt that we were loved. Well done Dad.

Between my Mom and Marge, Dad was married for more than 69 years. Dad did it with excellence and set an incredible example of what it meant to be a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. Well done Dad.

Most of all, Dad took the admonition of John 10:10 to heart “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” You lived life to the full Dad. You showed us how to live life fully for Christ, for your family, your church and everyone you came across. Well done, Dad.

Enjoy your eternity. Enjoy reconnecting with so many who are in heaven because of your influence. Enjoy no more pain. Enjoy the return of a strong voice. Enjoy eating ice cream again without worrying about your blood sugar numbers. Enjoy running and jumping again. Enjoy hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Well done Dad, thanks for the example.

Dennis

Hurting, but Joyful, Smiling with Tears …

I have been wrestling for some time with this truth about myself. My heart hurts, but the reason my heart hurts also brings me joy. How can that be? Am I just fooling myself? It doesn’t seem to make sense, but it is true. I am sure that you don’t understand, at least not yet.

I have shared many times that my son, daughter (in-law) and their 5 children (my grandchildren) are serving as missionaries. They are serving in Africa. The country in which they were serving, Central Africa Republic (CAR), has been through tumultuous times in the past and is currently going through them again.

My kids, and the team on which they were serving, had to be evacuated on the Saturday before Easter. A day before the celebration of Christ’s resurrection that provides the Good News. It was called an emergency evacuation. They could only take a small bag with them as they were rushed away. They didn’t have time to say any proper goodbyes to neighbors and other friends or the community in which they were serving.

As a parent and grandparent, I am grateful that they were removed safely. But my heart hurts for them and the people they were reaching. Much of the town in which they lived is destroyed. Nearly everyone living in that town, a few thousand people, have fled. The reports are that the only people remaining are those who were physically unable to flee.

The people have scattered and not all of them know where members of their families are located, or if they are even alive. Some crossed the border into Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), some made it to other towns in CAR and others may have gone even further.

It is heartbreaking for my son, daughter in law and grandkids. The people who fled, and are now refugees through no fault of their own, were friends and neighbors. Some had come to faith in Christ. Many of them helped them to adapt and adjust to the town, the country and the culture. Those people are not just numbers in a news report, they have names and faces that my kids can still see in their prayers.

My joy is in knowing that God is still God and he is Lord. My heart hurts for my kids and for those people who loved my kids. My joy comes from knowing that my kids and grandkids know Jesus as their personal Savior and that they are physically safe. My heart hurts for the people who had to flee from their homes, their families, their friends, their work and their land because some others wanted to exert power over them.

My joy is knowing that no matter what my kids and grandkids are facing God is with them and that he loves them ferociously. My heart hurts knowing that I so often take for granted the ease with which I can minister and live for Jesus when so many live in daily danger.

Frequently, during the past 4+ years I have been asked by people “How can you let your kids and grandkids go so far away into dangerous situations?” My answer has been, and still is, that God is leading them. I either trust God or I don’t trust him. I am convinced that he is leading them, and that he was leading them when went to CAR. Therefore, I trust. That doesn’t mean I don’t hurt. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever have any fear. That doesn’t mean I don’t shed tears. That doesn’t mean that I don’t pray for their safety. But it does mean, that I also pray for their relationship with Christ. It means that I pray for their ministry. It means that I pray that I can what they need me to be as a supporter and prayer warrior on their behalf.

So today, with tears often escaping my eyes and landing dangerously near my keyboard, I pray and I trust. Today, I am joyful and have some pain as well.

Isn’t how it should be every day?

 

Dennis

3 years is a long time …

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Well, duh! Of course 3 years is a long time.” Or maybe you are taking a long view of things and thinking 3 years isn’t so long when compared to a lifetime or compared to eternity. 

Let me put my statement of fact that 3 years is a long time into perspective. In the last 3 years I have moved 2 states away to become pastor of a different church. I have since added another church and am currently pastoring 2 churches. Also I have had the joy of welcoming 2 new grandkids, 2 bright, beautiful, lively girls were born into our family in the past 3 years. My daughters and their families have both moved, one of them 2 states away and one of them across town, all in the past 3 years. A lot can change in 3 years because 3 years is a long time.

Why am I bringing up the fact that 3 years is a long time? Yesterday I drove my son and 2 of my grandsons to the airport where they boarded a flight taking them to Kenya. Actually they are returning to Kenya. Just over 3 years ago my son, daughter in law and 5 of my grandkids headed to Kenya where they have been serving as missionaries. They have been back in the states for 5 weeks. All of them were with us for 10 days when they first arrived and my son and 2 of his boys were with us for 4 days again. My daughter in law will be taking my oldest grandson to college in a couple of days. Then next week my son flies back from Kenya and I will pick him up along with my daughter in law and their 2 youngest kids. They will be using our home as their base for 5 weeks while they speak at a few churches and see some friends and family. Then they will get on a plane and head back to Africa to begin serving in a brand new ministry in a different county. 

The greatest adjustments will be for my son, daughter in law and their kids. They will be scattered across 2 continents and 3 different countries. I have been praying for their adjustments to this new reality. In fact I began praying for their adjustments almost a year ago knowing it would be difficult for all of them.

Yesterday as my wife and I hugged our grandsons there were tears, at least there was in our eyes. As we walked back to our vehicle to begin the 3 hour drive home I said, “That was a lot harder than last time, because now we know how long 3 years is”. You see, I know that 3 years is a long time.

When we dedicated our son to the Lord we committed to raise him according to God’s Word and we agreed to embrace God’s will for his life. We still embrace that commitment. We didn’t know how long 3 years were back then, but we do now. I am thrilled that all of my kids are serving the Lord and I am excited that my son and his family are being obedient, even if it means that they (remember that includes grandkids) are more than 16 flying hours away. But there are moments that are not easy. Yesterday was one of those moments.

The key to all of this is to be obedient. To remember that a commitment to serve and follow Jesus sometimes means that many things change. But God is still God and He is still watching over my kids and grandkids. I comfort myself with the knowledge that God loves my kids and grandkids even more than I do. 

But for today the tears are spilling from my eyes even as I smile and I keep thinking, “3 years is a long time”. But I also remember how sweet the reunions are after 3 years.

Here’s hoping that you are following the one who loves you so much that He gave his life for you no matter where it takes you. God is still God and he is greater than 3 years, no matter where you are for those years.

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

I couldn’t do my musings this morning as we were saying goodbye to the 2nd of our 3 kids and family as they headed back home. What a glorious weekend and what an outstanding Sunday we experienced. I am overwhelmed today. As for my musings …

-They were all here. All 16 of them, which made 18 of us all together for the very first time. My wife and I, our 3 children, their wonderful spouses and our 10 awesome grandkids. On Wednesday we picked up my son and family as they returned to the states after serving as missionaries the last 3 years in Kenya. On Thursday afternoon our oldest daughter and family arrived to join the festivities. Then on Friday evening our youngest daughter and family arrived to complete the crew! It was awesome! The last time we were all together there were only 16 of us. Two of grandkids were born while our son and family were in Kenya. So there was a lot of catching up to do. There was a lot of hugging. There were more smiles than could be counted. There was raucous laughter erupting all over the house often. There were games to be played and stories to share. There were pictures to take and much food to be eaten. There were fierce hugs and some tears as we began to separate again. And it was amazing! 

-We experienced the hottest weather we have had since I moved here two and a half years ago. That limited the activities to the indoors.

-Both of my churches had good attendance and especially for late July in this type of heat.

-We had major technical problems at both churches. So frustrating.

-The spirit was good in my 9:00 church and it was outstanding in my 10:30 church.

-I preached with a shovel in my hand. (Maybe I will share why in another post. I like to keep them on their toes during the message.) 

-As part of my 10:30 church’s worship one of the kids from church presented a check to my son and daughter in law. The check was for a wonderful ministry called Kenya Kids Can. They feed 16,000 school children a day. My son and daughter in law worked in this ministry as one of their ministries in Kenya. The money came from the children during our Vacation Bible School. The check was for $540 and was just part of the offerings the children gave. The other part went to support a pastor’s child’s schooling in Kenya for the next year. It was a very special and moving moment in our worship. 

-Last week our church was broken into and someone damaged 3 doors and ruined our safe. The person was caught in the act by the local police while doing a routine patrol. The person did not get away with anything since they were caught in the act. Our safe held up, but it will need to be replaced. Last Monday was a very difficult day. My heart is breaking for the person who broke in and for their family. It made quite the splash in the news, not exactly the type of publicity we were looking for.

-Today is my 2nd grandson’s 16th birthday.

-Yesterday I shared some of what God has been pressing me on personally (see my post titled “My Monday Morning Wreck”) and how I believe He wants all of us to respond to the needs around us. We are seeking ways to go deeper (see the connection with the shovel) so that we can grow up and produce the fruit of changed lives and helping those most in need. God is really up to something special in our town.

Here’s hoping that you are seeing ways to make a difference in your community and that you are courageously stepping out to help people.

Dennis

Tuesday’s Thoughts …

Sunday was an outstanding day and this week is going to be epic. Yesterday was one of the most difficult days I have ever had in my ministry. I was awakened Monday morning at 1:30 am with a phone call. Since then a couple of other emergencies have arisen and my thoughts and emotions are exhausted. As for my thoughts (they can’t be musings because it is Tuesday not Monday) … 

-My 10:30 church had our Vacation Bible School last week and the kids shared a few songs, there was a lesson shared and I got to share that the 50+ kids who attended brought in $900. They gave enough to cover the school costs for the next year for a girl we support in Africa and they will be sending a good amount to help with a program that feeds 16,000 students a day in Kenya. Some of the kids brought in money they have been saving and one boy had been saving coins since last year’s VBS. He brought in gallons of coins. One day when I took the coins in to the bank’s coin counter, the machine was overwhelmed and stopped working!

-Many of the kids who attended VBS were here Sunday and we had a few parents who don’t normally attend our church here as well. Our attendance was good as was the energy and spirit in the service.

-My 9:00 church had a nasty rain storm arrive about 25 minutes before our worship began. It was dark as night and raining very hard as the service started. An hour later it had stopped and the sun peeked out. Our attendance was down but we worshiped with passion anyway.

-The reason this week is going to be epic is because my son, daughter in law and 5 of my grandkids are arriving back in the states tomorrow after serving the past 3 years in Kenya! My wife and I will pick them up at the airport tomorrow along with their 21 pieces of luggage. We are taking a vehicle just for the luggage and then a minivan that has been loaned to our kids as well. We are very excited. 

-The greatest part of this week is that all of our kids and grandkids will be at our house this weekend. That will be 18 of us. We have added 2 since the crew went to serve in Africa. Someone is allowing us to use their RV while everyone is here to give us some extra sleeping space.

-My heart is breaking over a couple of the emergencies that have come our way in the past 36 hours. I was already planning to begin a new sermon series this Sunday that focuses on going deeper, praying harder and living authentically.

-Prayers are appreciated as my planned study time has been destroyed yesterday and today.

-This morning my wife and I went out for breakfast and one of our kids who comes with someone other than his family came into the restaurant with some of his family. He came straight to us and gave each of us a big hug. We talked with him and his family a little and reminded the family members that they are always welcome to come to church with him. That was a nice little bright spot.

-With everything that has taken place the past 2 days here and the past few weeks around the world I have been reminded of the phrase my Dad continued to share in his 44 years of ministry. “No matter what is happening, God is still God”. I have been saying “God is still God” over and over to myself and to a few others. I am grateful for this truth and for a Dad who continues to live this out. 

-I recently wrote this during one of my prayer times “My inaction is an indication that my prayers are empty words. If I prayer with the desire to be surrendered to Christ and to see Him move in my life then I must follow Him. Following requires action on my part.” I pray that inaction will never again be descriptive of my life.

Here’s hoping that you find a bright spot today. I am praying that you will recognize and live with the truth that God is still God echoing in your life.

Dennis