Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a day with a lot of chaos. As for my musings …

-Yesterday was filled with technical problems. Some of it can be attributed to it being the first Sunday since my Assistant Pastor moved on, he directed our technical stuff. Some people are returning to roles they haven’t done in a while or they are trying something new. We made it through, and it probably bothered those of us up front and in the sound booth a lot more than the congregation.

-The technical chaos was not limited to our Worship service. At our small group last night, which meets in a home, we could not get our online video segment to work. We still had good discussion.

-To add to the chaos, I was terrible in delivering my message yesterday. I was scattered in my thoughts and my words. Hoping that my prayers before the service for God to speak beyond my words were answered.

-Not everything was bad, but the chaos that took place was where my thinking went last night.

-On a more positive note, we had a couple of new people attend and one person who returned for the second time.

-We had a lot of children and youth in attendance yesterday. 3 years ago, we had 4 or 5 children and youth attending. Yesterday I believe we had 25.

-Another good thing from yesterday was that more people committed to helping with a significant children’s outreach that we will be doing in 3 weeks.

-I am very much looking forward to getting a day off to spend with my wife this week. It has been 2 or 3 weeks since that has been possible.

-My Cubs won their first series in the playoffs, so that made me happy. It doesn’t look good for the current series.

-A fun element in my message yesterday is that I used my bow for an illustration. Any time I can carry a bow around while I preach it is a fun thing.

-My mid-week study is going well. The issues we are digging into are so relevant and many people need healing in these areas. The first week only 3 came, the past couple of weeks we have had 5 and yesterday 2 additional people told me they plan to attend this week.

-The small group that meets on Monday evenings is called Inside Out. They are looking to get healthy spiritually and physically. Part of the focus is accountability. Part of the focus is learning about what God’s Word says and part of the focus is hearing from people in the health and fitness profession share. Good things are coming from that group.

-My fantasy football team lost for the first time this week. Let’s all pause for a moment of sadness.

-This morning I am experiencing a mix of joy and sadness as I reflect on having family scattered around the country and the world. I am missing times with all of us together. I am rejoicing as they are serving the Lord and that they are all doing well.

Here’s hoping you find joy as you serve this week.

 

Dennis

 

Advertisements

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was an outstanding day with a lot of emotion. As for my musings …

-We said good-bye to my Associate Pastor and his family yesterday morning. We had a special breakfast in their honor and during our worship time we gave them a few gifts to remember us by and had a special time of prayer surrounding them. A few tears were shed by many of us.

-It was great to be back with our church family yesterday. We enjoyed our time away and being with some family and we enjoyed being back with these people who call me pastor.

-On Friday I was honored to share the message at a very special man’s funeral. He was a retired pastor. He served this church at one time and is the longest tenured pastor this church as ever had. He was a member and regular attender of this church in his retirement. He was a great encourager to me and many others. He will be greatly missed.

-Last evening our church was host site for a discipleship training that will last until Wednesday morning. Hal Perkins and his wife Debbi are leading these sessions. There will be 2 more evening sessions and 3 morning sessions beginning this morning. I am always for things that help with discipleship.

-Yesterday morning I resumed the sermon series “Dream”. The focus was on what we expect. Because what we expect greatly impacts what we do and what we do determines our results. We looked at David versus Goliath and how David’s expectations of what God would do were different than everyone else at that scene. We have 2 more Sundays of this series, or maybe 3.

-I have had a few nights recently when I could not turn my mind off and sleep. It culminated on Saturday night when I slept for an hour total. I am hoping that trend is over.

-Our mid-week ministries had another good week last week. The number of children attending has stayed up in a range above what we anticipated. Our teen number is growing. The adult studies are going very well, though with lower numbers than we hoped. However, the main reason our adult study numbers are down a bit is because we have a lot of adults serving with our children and teens. Our mid-week ministries have become a source encouragement for our whole church.

-Saturday was my wife and oldest granddaughter’s birthday. My wife says that our granddaughter’s birth was her greatest birthday present ever. That present came 13 years ago. We now have 4 grandchildren who are teenagers. Wow!

-My fantasy football team appears to have squeaked out another victory, since neither of us have anyone playing tonight.

-I am struggling getting a handle on my Christmas sermon series. I like to have a direction for it by now.

-My Cubs split their first two games of the playoffs, since those games were on the road, I am good with that outcome. But I am very nervous for the rest of the series.

Here’s hoping you are expecting God to do great things in your life this week.

 

Dennis

My not so Monday Morning Musings …

Obviously, this is not Monday morning. My wife and I were out of town. We were at our oldest daughter and son in law’s house out of state. We went that direction for a wedding that I was doing over the weekend. We took an extra couple of days of vacation and spent it with them and our two youngest grandkids. It was a very good time with all of them. As for my musings …

-We attended the church that our daughter, son in law and their girls attend. The pastor is someone that I have known since he was in Bible College and I was on staff at that college. It is a good church that continues to grow. Being a parishioner is always a different feeling. I love being able to worship in another church sometimes. It gives me new perspective on things we do or don’t do at home. It was an enjoyable experience.

-The wedding went well. It was an outdoor event and the weather was perfect, which is a real bonus for the last day of September. I have known the bride, and her family, for about 12 years. To see her so happy was a real joy. This couple is in love with each other and everyone who sees them knows it.

-At the reception we got to see, and talk with, some good friends. That was a wonderful bonus for the trip.

-While we were gone I have learned of 3 deaths. One is a retired minister in my congregation. I will be doing that funeral in a couple of days. What an honor it will be to celebrate this man’s life and legacy. As for our church, it will be a great loss. He attended every Sunday and was a great supporter and prayer warrior for me and many others. Another of the deaths was the grandmother of someone connected to our church and they asked if I could do the funeral, but it took place before I returned home. The third was someone who attended the wedding that I did on Saturday. A young man that is related to the bride. He was involved in an accident on the way home from the event. A lot of emotions on learning of each of these events.

-Next week I will begin a new round of the fatherhood class at the prison in our area. The first group went so well. I teach this with another friend who is also a pastor. He and I are really looking forward to getting started with a new group.

-This week is my Assistant Pastor’s last one with us. He and his wife and kids have been a real blessing to me and to our church. They will be greatly missed. I am encouraged by the number of people who are stepping forward to help do some of things he has been doing.

-My Cubs finished the task and won their division. Now the playoffs begin. This will not be easy.

-It was great to be away for a few days with my wife. We needed this time and are very appreciative for it.

-Our new small groups, children’s mid-week ministry and youth group have gotten off to great beginnings. I am looking forward to being back for Wednesday evening and the great energy that is in the building when all those groups are meeting.

-My fantasy football team won again this week. So far, I am loving this fantasy season. However, I am not loving the real football season for my Colts.

Here’s hoping you have many opportunities this week to encourage someone.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Thanks for the kind responses to my post on Thursday. Yesterday was a good day. There were a lot of positives, it wasn’t perfect, but it was a good one. As for my musings …

-We began a new small group for young adult parents of young children last night. It was a good beginning. We had 15 in attendance and had some good discussion as we set the stage for the study.

-We had 7 or 8 people come to the altar to repent following the message yesterday. That is always an encouragement to a pastor.

-We had a couple of visitors in worship yesterday and some who were back for the second the time.

-On Saturday I was part of a minister’s choir as we participated in the funeral service of a retired minister. He pastored for 37 years as a bi-vocational pastor. Then he served as an interim, and pulpit supply pastor for several years. I never met him, he no longer was able to get out to district functions by the time I arrived in this area. But I was honored to help pay tribute to one who went before me and was so faithful.

-I am still having trouble with these 90-degree temperatures at the end of September. We have had 4 or 5 days in a row in that range. I don’t think we had this many in August.

-Our new mid-week children’s ministry kicked off last week with a bang. It was a great night with very good attendance and a lot of energy. Our light meal, before the mid-week ministries, was a big success as well. I loved seeing so many people investing in our children.

-I will be seeing my two youngest grandkids in a few days. That makes me very happy.

-Attendance was down a little.

-The feeling in the room was very good throughout our time of worship yesterday.

-My Cubs are still in first place, but they are not making it look easy.

-I had some good conversations this week with fellow pastors and with some of the people in my church. God is doing good things around here.

-My fantasy football team pulled out the surprising win last week and it appears that I won again this week. None of them looked probable until the end. But I will still take them.

-Reading a good book by Louie Giglio entitled “The Comeback”.

-I need to cut this a bit short this week.

Here’s hoping you are free to pursue the dream God is giving you.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday had some great moments, some things that were very encouraging and just to balance things out it had some things that I wouldn’t describe as great or encouraging. Did your mind immediately go to negative possibilities? I didn’t say there were negative things, just that some things were not great nor encouraging. That means they could be just routine, or they could be negative. As for my musings …

-On Saturday, our church had a float in our community’s annual festival’s parade. It is a big deal around here with more than 100 entrants in the parade and thousands watching. The people who worked on the float did a great job. We had 15 or more children riding on the float or walking the parade route and 10 adults. We handed out frozen popsicle type products (I can’t remember what they are called). We had 1,400 of them and ran out before the end of the parade route. We also handed out some cards to families that had info about our upcoming children’s ministries on them. It was a warm sunny day in the 80’s with a little breeze. The kids were awesome through the waiting to start the parade and all the way to the end of the route.

-We celebrated that our Assistant Pastor and wife’s baby that was born 5 weeks early who was at church yesterday.

-Yesterday was the 2nd of 6 messages in our “Dream” series. This one was about daring to be courageous in taking the next step to pursue the dream God is giving. There were some illustrations from the movie “Christmas Story”. I was so excited about this series leading up to it, without realizing how much God was going to work on me through this whole series. Wow, I have a lot to work on in following God’s dream.

-My Dad was in the hospital for a couple of days again this week and a couple of days in skilled nursing before getting back to his apartment at the assisted living facility. He was very excited to be back in his apartment. It was encouraging to talk with him last evening. I know that each setback takes a little away and I cherish each conversation or visit.

-My son and daughter in law received their work permits from the country where they are serving in Africa. We have been praying fervently for this as their visas were due to expire at the end of the month.

-The lack of response to offering another disciple group on Sunday mornings was disappointing. I didn’t communicate well about the beginning date, but it was still disappointing. On a positive note, we have several people who are already in our disciple training. This was to a be new group.

-We had some new people in attendance yesterday.

-We have a new mid-week children’s ministry beginning this week. We will also be trying to offer a meal before our mid-week groups for a few weeks beginning this Wednesday.

-My wife began a weight loss accountability group last Monday with 13 in attendance!

-My fantasy football team was terrible last week and I still squeezed out a win. The only person I would have beaten in our league was the person I played. This week my team is playing much better and I will likely lose unless a miracle happens tonight.

-Our attendance was better yesterday.

-We are beginning a new small group next week for young adults with young children.

-Praying for a pastor friend who is preaching a funeral today and tomorrow.

-Praying for the recovery, and restoration, efforts in Texas, Florida and Mexico.

-My Cubs are still in first place, but the lead is slim. Good news, there are only 13 games left.

Here’s hoping you will accept the dare to be courageous in your faith and in following the dream this week.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

This one is a struggle, just like many things were yesterday. As for my musings …

-Announced the resignation of my Assistant Pastor in worship service yesterday. He is taking a position with a larger church about 40 minutes away. He is going to be able to be full-time in ministry. He was part-time with us and had to work another job. He, and his family, are going to be missed. We wish them the best. Now we pray and trust that God has someone else in mind for us.

-I began a new sermon series yesterday entitled “Dream”.

-I found it a struggle to preach yesterday. It may have been the swirling emotions of announcing my Assistant’s resignation. It could have been that I had promoted this series and the beginning of some new fall groups and then the attendance was not good. It may have been that many people seemed distracted during the service. It may have been a lot of things. Whatever the reasons, the struggle was real.

-We are beginning some exciting new groups and ministries within the next two weeks. A new mid-week children’s ministry. We are going to try doing a mid-week meal for a few weeks. We have a parenting of young children group that will start in a couple of weeks. There is a weight loss and health accountability group that is starting tonight. A new discipleship group will start next Sunday. A 6-week Ladies Bible Study and a Bible study to bring healing to damaged emotions will start in another week. A lot is beginning, maybe too much. Some of this was planned, some of it is happening organically and all of it has great potential.

-Praying often for family and friends in the southeast that have, or are about to, deal with hurricane Irma. So far, the ones I have heard from are all safe. Some have damage to property, but are physically safe. In Houston and Florida, the recovery is going to be difficult and long.

-The American football fans in my family had a mixed bag of results over the weekend. At least 3 of us were happy with our college team, but none of us were happy with the results from the NFL. I specified “American football” because I have several family members who live where the subject of “football” means something different than a pigskin, 100 yards and goal posts.

-There is no doubt that the departure of my Assistant Pastor and family will be a setback for us. I am believing that if God moved him on to another place, then He has something in mind for us. In this moment, I am having trouble seeing it, but I am trusting Him.

-I was encouraged yesterday when a few people stated that they would be willing to step in and work in some of the areas that my Assistant Pastor has been leading.

-Praying for several people to become a part of the new discipleship group that will begin this Sunday.

-Praying that our church would be a place where people who have felt left out can, and will, come in and be welcomed, loved and able to embrace all that God has for them.

-My Cubs are still in first place, but they seem to be barely holding that position.

Here’s hoping that you can see some positive things in your path this week and that you can encourage someone else.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was my first Sunday back to preaching at just one church. It felt strange at first, because it felt like I had a lot of extra time on my hands. As for my musings …

-I enjoyed being able to have breakfast at church and talk with several people before our Sunday School/Small groups. I especially loved that they served biscuits and gravy, one of my all-time favorites.

-My wife and I made a quick trip to visit with my Dad, stepmom and other family on Friday. It was good to spend time with them, especially my Dad. He had been back in the hospital recently. I was glad to see him back in his apartment. Then we all went to their house so that he could go through a lot of stuff in his office. He was worn out by the time we got him back to his apartment in the Assisted Living center. We got back home Saturday late afternoon. It was tiring but worth it.

-Things felt kind of flat in worship yesterday. Maybe it was the holiday weekend. Maybe it was attendance being down a little. Maybe it was just me.

-We got word this week of a couple of different people who were diagnosed with cancer. Our hearts are hurting for these friends.

-Our church had a pleasant surprise last week. My Assistant Pastor’s wife had a baby. The surprise wasn’t that she had a baby, the surprise was that he came 5 weeks early! Mom is doing great and the baby is doing well. He is still in the hospital while many things get checked out and to give his lungs, and other parts of him, a little more time to develop. We are all rejoicing and praying.

-One of the most encouraging parts of the day yesterday was seeing a lot of children in attendance. I was reflecting to 3 ½ years ago and rejoicing over the number of children we have attending now. Even more encouraging, is the fact that this was on a holiday weekend when our attendance was down.

-One of our elementary kids did some sign language during a song yesterday. I loved watching her worship and lead us in worship.

-My message was titled “Getting Back Up from Being Down”. It was looking at scripture to guide when we are discouraged, in despair or depressed. My prayer is that it helped some people in the moment and that it will help some people in the future. Another outcome that I am praying for is that we can be a place where it is okay to talk about our difficult times and help one another.

-Next Sunday we begin a new sermon series entitled “Dream”. I am very excited for this one. The hope is that we will embrace God-given dreams for each of us and our church. Also, that we will courageously act on those dreams.

-We are kicking off some new classes and small groups in the next couple of weeks, including a brand new option for children during the week. I have been praying for months that this would be a tipping point for our church and that we would experience an outpouring of people coming to faith in Christ, growing in Christ and impacting our community in even greater ways.

-Still praying for my kids in Africa to get government clearance and visas for the new country in which they are ministering.

-My Cubs are still in first place, and even though they won most of their games last week I am still not comfortable with their lead.

Here’s hoping that you find something to get excited about this week. I am praying that you will sense God’s prompting to dream and pursue those dreams for Him.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a very good day. There were many positive things from yesterday. There were some difficult moments, such as talking to 2 families who recently lost a daughter or daughter in law unexpectedly. As for my musings …

-A huge praise from yesterday is that at least 3 people made the decision to accept Jesus as their personal Savior! What a joy to see people accept the forgiveness of Christ. The message was entitled “Salvation 101”. I did my best to lay out the Gospel in a clear and meaningful way. People seemed to be very engaged throughout the message. I am praying that many more will make decisions as they reflect on the message or listen to the recording on our website.

-My heart was breaking as I spoke with a family at each of my churches who have lost a daughter, or daughter in law suddenly and expectedly within the last 2 weeks. I was wishing I had some magic words to bring them comfort. I assured them of my prayers and thoughts.

-Yesterday was my last day at my 9:00 church. I am now back to pastoring just 1 church. I am looking forward to having time during the breakfast and as people come and go from Sunday School/Small groups to visit with them. I have missed those casual times of touching base with people. I am also looking forward to being able to eat some of the awesome food that is served during the breakfasts at church.

-We had an awesome meeting on Wednesday with people who are serving in our children’s ministry, or who would like to begin serving. The attendance was much larger than we expected. The passion for kids and ministry was encouraging. Good things are in store for our children’s ministry.

-Last evening there was a youth gathering. That is a big deal because that is 2 times within the past month. We are growing a youth group. It has taken a long time to get this going again and I am so excited for the possibilities. They ran out of seating yesterday during Sunday School/Small groups in the youth class.

-This coming Sunday I will be preaching about how to get back up when you are down. We will be looking at what the Bible says about dealing with depression and discouragement.

-In 2 weeks, we will begin a 6-part message series entitled “Dream”. I am very excited for this series and have been working on it for a few weeks already. I believe it is going to trigger some great things in some people’s lives and in our ministry as a church.

-I don’t know what is going on with me, but I had 3 nights in the past week where I got less than 5 hours of sleep. The worst was Saturday night when I only got 2 ½ hours. Not good heading into a Sunday.

-My wife and I will be making a trip to see my Dad later this week. He was back in the hospital for a couple of nights recently. It will be great to see him, and my brother and sister-in-law will be there at the same time. It will be a brief visit, as we will only be gone about 36 hours. When you consider that the trip is about 6 hours long, that means we will not be there very long.

-My oldest grandson begins his second year of college this morning. Praying that he has another great year and that he can stay awake during his classes today. He just arrived from Africa last evening. International travel and a 10-hour time difference will likely take a toll on him.

-My Cubs are still in first place in their division. Still not comfortable with our lead or how inconsistent we are playing.

Here’s hoping that all your travels are safe this week.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

On the day of “the eclipse”, I am forcing myself not to allow a couple of negative moments to overshadow the many good things that took place yesterday. As for my musings …

-Last evening my wife and I went to another church to listen to a missionary speak. This missionary is serving in what we call a creative access country. It is not legal to enter the country as a missionary or minister. Therefore, you must be creative and enter to do some other type of work. However, the missionary then uses that work to meet people and seek opportunities to share Christ with them. It was humbling and inspiring to hear what is taking place in that country.

-My early morning run through of my sermon went horribly yesterday. Fortunately, the real thing went much better in both churches. One of my struggles was that I was trying to focus on too many things in one message. I know better. The good news is that people seemed to be engaged in the message and some conversations later in the day showed that some people grasped the key part of the message.

-In the afternoon, my wife and I attended an open house celebration for the 90th birthday of a sweet lady in my 10:30 church. She does not like cake, so they served pie. I loved it.

-We are getting some rain this morning. We desperately need rain.

-This past week saw a family in each of my churches who had someone in their late 50’s die suddenly and unexpectedly. On Saturday, I did the memorial service for one of them. My heart is broken for the husband, children, grandchildren and parents of these families. I heard a phrase from the parents that I have heard too many times “Pastor, I am not supposed to bury one of my children.” I am praying for these families every day.

-The new school year began this past week. The beginning of a new school seems to bring energy to the whole community.

-Once again, I made 3 trips out of town to visit people in hospitals, this was in addition to visits to the local hospital. The good news is that the people I visited are improving and in these cases the prognosis could have been very bad. We are rejoicing with them.

-Attendance was better in my 10:30 church yesterday, mainly because several who were in town for the funeral were still here and attended. Hopefully, we are past the summer slump.

-The people of my 10:30 church came through with flying colors with the funeral dinner on Saturday. There were many people who brought food and an awesome crew of 9 who set-up, served and cleaned up from the dinner. They served over 100 people at the dinner. I love seeing people serve with love.

-When I stepped up to preach yesterday I found a note from my wife laying on the podium. It said, “Praying for you. God has this!!” She is my greatest supporter and encourager. She knew that I had struggled all week and that my run though had not gone well.

-My Cubs are still in first place, but they are sure making things interesting. Yesterday’s improbable comeback win was just one example. At least it is never boring.

-Next month I am officiating a wedding. After doing 10 to 13 (I am losing track) funerals in the past 6 months, it will be nice to do a wedding.

-My son, and his family, have still not received their visas or government clearance for the new country in which they are ministering. Many prayers going up for this need.

-I just met with someone about some of the new things we are planning for our children’s ministry. I am very excited and we are getting a youth ministry up and running as well. Good things going on around here.

Here’s praying you realize how much Jesus loves you and that you will tell someone else about His love as well.

Dennis

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