Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a good day and one with a wide variety of experiences. As for my musings …
-I preached at both churches, ate a quick lunch, took a brief nap and then my wife and I went to a high school graduation open house and then to an out of town funeral visitation. It was a full day.
-In my 10:30 church we honored the memory of 3 of our members who recently passed away. We had members of the families come forward and a person from each family shared something about the one who passed. Then we gave them certificates recognizing that they are now a part of the Memorial Roll of our church. It was a special time of remembering and honoring 3 special people.
-We had a visitor in my 9:00 church. It is someone who lives in town and had received a personal invitation from someone in the church. People rarely attend for the first time from an advertisement, they attend because of a personal invitation.
-Tonight, will be the first of our volunteer gatherings for those who desire to serve in our Vacation Bible School that will begin in 6 weeks at my 10:30 church. VBS is kind of a big deal around here and we have many people who invest many, many hours to prepare for it.
-Yesterday’s worship services went well, but we had some technical glitches are both churches.
-There was a very good spirit during our time of singing and prayer in my 10:30 church.
-Attendance was a little down at both churches. The good news, there were visitors at both churches.
-My Dad celebrated his 89th birthday on Friday.
-Continued our series on relationships yesterday. It was a message with a lot of practical applications, in fact I had 2 people reference something from the sermon yesterday afternoon and evening.
-Thinking of a friend of mine, who happens to be a pastor in our community, who is retiring soon and will be moving a couple of states away. I am really going to miss him and his infectious laugh and our times of praying together.
-Looking at pictures of kids who are graduating High School and College from previous places we pastored is making me feel old. When you move away you tend to think of everyone as staying the same age as when you left. Obviously, they don’t, but it is still a bit of a shock to the system to see pictures of some of them graduating.
-Very burdened for the message I will be sharing this Sunday.
-I need to stop talking about getting in better shape and losing some weight and start doing something about it. Ouch! Part of my message yesterday on building relationships was on the importance of spending time together. I said, “Planning on spending time with someone does not equal spending time with them.” I need to apply the same truth to shaping up physically.

-Been working on some small group, or seminar type, teaching recently. Laying out some of the fall teaching and preaching schedule.
-I am praying for several people who are awaiting results from recent medical tests. All of them are the kind of tests that waiting for the results makes you nervous.
Here’s hoping you get some great news this week and that you will reach out and encourage someone else.

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

This morning I sit here typing while looking out over the waves as they come rolling into shore. I could get used to this, or at least get used to doing this a couple of times each year. Our vacation is not over yet and it will be one that will give us great memories for years to come. As for my musings …

-Vacation Sundays are always very different. Not preaching and not being at my home churches always makes for an odd feeling for me. We are without transportation of our own on this vacation and there was not church within walking distance that we discovered. We chose to worship with some great friends through the live streaming of their worship service. It was a great service and fun to see some familiar faces. Pastor Dave Engbrecht, thanks for the message. Keep the fire hot and preach it brother. After all, “our greatest days are just ahead”.
-I also spent time praying for Pastor Matt and our churches back home. It sounds like things went well and it just goes to show that I can be gone, Pastor Matt cannot. Last time he was gone we had some disastrous technical problems.
-This vacation has been so relaxing. Seeing the ocean from our balcony and hearing the waves whenever we sit out on the balcony has been awesome. Spending time sitting on the beach while reading, sleeping and people watching has been refreshing and enlightening.
-It appears that we may get some stormy weather today. That could be interesting.
-We were told that just a few minutes after we got of the ocean yesterday some dolphins were spotted swimming just beyond where we had been jumping the waves. Seeing that would have been incredible.
-The timing of our vacation and my message for this coming Sunday is perfect. It is almost like someone a lot smarter than me was planning it all. Come Sunday and you will understand.
-I am reading a lot while on vacation. That is the norm for my wife and I when we vacation by ourselves. I am reading a mix of Christian books, fiction mysteries and a lot of scripture.
-I have typed several notes into my phone while I have been here. When I get away, get out of routine and read a variety of material my mind refreshes and creativity begins to surface. I love when that is happening.
-Talked with my Dad last evening. He sounded good. He will turn 89 on Friday.
-We have enjoyed 5 straight days of sunshine here. I think we had 5 days of sunshine in the past month at home. Hopefully we can direct some toward home before we leave.
-I am not sure but I may have caught a glimpse of some lightening a moment ago. We certainly don’t have sunshine yet today. Looks like we will be reading inside today. Gotta go, this should be interesting to watch.
Here’s hoping that you find something to refresh your mind today.

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a fun day. As for my musings …
-We honored our high school and college graduates at both churches yesterday. We have 11 who have graduated from high school or college this year. 5 of them from high school and 6 from college. It is also fun to recognize and honor those connected to our church when they reach these milestones. The church body has played a part in them getting to this point in their educational career so this is always meaningful to the individual and the church.
-Our attendances were right at our averages in both churches.
-My wife and I leave for our vacation in a few days. We might be just a wee bit excited. My wife started packing a few days ago, that means I have started as well.
-Last week I made a brief trip to visit with my Dad and stepmom. I was gone for 37 hours and 12 of those hours were spent driving. My dad is doing much better than he was just a few weeks ago. I was encouraged by the visit and am always blessed when I spend time with my Dad and my stepmom.
-Yesterday was #2 in our sermon series on restoring relationships. I am encouraged by how well these messages are being received.
-We had a problem yesterday and did not get the message recorded. That is a bummer.
-I think my mind is quickly slipping into vacation mode. I must power through this day before I can let that happen.
-Our weather has been strange this month. We have been in the 80’s a few days and the past couple of mornings have been in the 40’s. That is not fun.
-One of the things I am looking forward to on vacation, besides spending quality time with my wife, is doing a lot of reading. I am still gathering my reading material for vacation. I think we will have our clothes in one suitcase and our reading material will fill most of the other one. Plus, we have several books available that have been downloaded onto a couple of our electronic devices.
-We had an exciting announcement at church yesterday. My Assistant Pastor announced that he and his wife are expecting child #2 to arrive in October. They have a 2 year old girl and will be welcoming a boy in October. Church growth, I love it!
-I was encouraged by my discipleship group when we met this week. They are really digging into the Word and seeking to apply it to their everyday lives.
-My prayer time this morning was great.
-In reading through the book of Nehemiah in my personal time with the Lord, I am once again impacted by how involved everyone was with the vision of rebuilding.
Here’s hoping you see God moving in your life this week.

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a fun Mother’s Day with many positive moments throughout the day. As for my musings …

-Our oldest daughter, son in law and 2 youngest grandkids came to visit for the weekend. My wife couldn’t have asked for a better Mother’s Day, unless all our kids and grandkids were here. Our two youngest grandkids are 2 ½ years old and 16 months old. They are a couple of the most expressive girls you will ever meet. There was time at a couple of parks, a visit to a zoo, a cook-out, a lot of bubble blowing and many stories. We loved it. The bonus, was that they attended our 10:30 church and worshiped with us.

-At our 9:00 church the moms received a gift of a handmade small purse of their choice.

-At our 10:30 church there were a couple of photo booths set up so that moms could have a family picture taken. There was a breakfast made and served by the men before worship and there were carnations for the moms. I forgot to mention the carnations so one of the men was sprinting around the building after worship trying to catch all the moms before they left.

-My stomach decided to rebel early Sunday morning. The result was that I missed my normal extended walking prayer time around the building and it kept me from practicing my sermon. I also, felt like I was living on the edge throughout both worship services. During the 10:30 service I had to leave the worship center during part of the music time. Just as the 10:30 service finished my stomach settled down. That is an experience I would rather not repeat. (Sorry if that was too much information, just keeping it real.)

-Yesterday we began a new sermon series, “Restoring Relationships: 6 Keys to Building Fantastic Relationships”. Each week we are examining one specific thing that we can do to restore and/or build our relationships. These keys apply to all relationships, friendships, family, marriage, and more. I felt like I did not do the message justice in my presentation but as always, I am counting on the Holy Spirit to have covered my failings.

-We have had a week of nice weather and no rain. It is really feeling like we are approaching summer.

-All the lights went out during our 10:30 service just as I got up to preach. Some people thought it was part of the message. Some kind of electrical surge blew the breakers for the worship center lights. The situation was resolved within a few minutes.

-We leave for vacation in 9 days. Yes, I am unashamedly counting the days until our vacation.

-I am very encouraged by my discipleship group that will finish our 3 Steps soon. They will continue their discipleship path by leading others through the same process they have just completed. I am excited for this move of discipleship in our church.

-Attendance was up a little in my 9:00 church and just below average in my 10:30 church.

-Looking forward to visiting my Dad later this week.

-I am already getting excited for our Vacation Bible School. Praying for children to accept Christ as their Savior. Praying for connections to families that do not attend a church. Praying for our volunteers. Praying for the celebration of VBS in a worship service after the week of VBS.

-I loved my early prayer time today and the direction God is moving in me.

Here’s praying that you sense God’s direction for you.

 

Dennis

 

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday included a couple of outstanding happenings, some great news, wonderful conversations and one frustrated preacher. As for my musings …

-The time of prayer at my 10:30 church turned into a very powerful time in our worship. At least 12 people came to the altar seeking healing. They were surrounded by others who lifted in them prayer and encouragement. It was one of the most moving times of prayer during a worship service that I have experienced in a long time.

-The sermon went much better at my 9:00 church than it did at my 10:30 church. I don’t know what was wrong with me the second time around but I was frustrated with myself.

-Last evening, we enjoyed a cook-out/potluck meal and fellowship time with several people from our 10:30 church. A couple who leads a small group and a Sunday School class invited their groups over and some who could be a part of their group. It was a very enjoyable time. It was great to see interaction and realize that some of them were getting to know each other much better. The food was outstanding.

-We received great news late yesterday afternoon. Our oldest grandson made it safely to Uganda. He has been in the States for his freshman year of college while his parents are serving as missionaries in Africa. They had not been together for nearly 9 months. I am guessing that it was a reunion with a lot of smiles and contented sighs.

-We began recording our messages a few weeks ago and I am encouraged by the number of people who say they are listening and passing the link to others. Praying for expanding reach, and impact, into our community and beyond.

-This Sunday we will begin a new sermon series on relationships. It will be 6 weeks, from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day. The title is “Restoring Relationships: 6 Keys to Building Fantastic Relationships”.

-For Mother’s Day, we are going to have a couple of photo booths available for moms to take a special picture with their family. Too often we think of getting a photo to commemorate a special occasion after the fact. So, we are going to help by providing the set up and even some props. We have never done this, but I love to try new things and I believe this will be fun.

-I was so encouraged yesterday when I took note that someone who visited on Easter Sunday and accepted Christ as their personal Savior that day, has attended each Sunday since Easter. Yesterday, I noticed that they were now carrying their own Bible. How awesome is that?!

-Our vacation begins in 16 days!!!

-I am excited to teach on Fatherhood at the prison this week. This will be the third session with them. I am growing quite fond of these men and am encouraged by their desire to be better fathers. Better when they get out and to even start working on it now.

-I cannot believe how much my furnace ran the first week of May. In looking at the forecast, this morning may be the last time it will run for several months.

-The Chicago Cubs are the defending World Series Champs! I just wanted to throw that out there.

-I am looking to do a lot of reading, along with relaxing, on our vacation. Any spiritual, or personal, growth books you recommend?

Here’s hoping that you notice God’s presence this week.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was very powerful, very wet, and in some ways very discouraging. As for my musings …

-We experienced another powerful time of worship in my 10:30 church. In the music, the prayers and through the Word. This series has spoken directly and clearly to many people and the spirit in the entire worship service has been outstanding for the past 3 weeks.

-We had a few inches of rain fall over the weekend. There was standing water all around and that includes inside many buildings. People were hovering around their sump pumps to make sure they kept functioning. Others were hauling water out of basements. Others were placing buckets in their attics to keep leaks from coming through their ceilings. The weather, and the threat of severe weather hurt the attendance at both churches.

-We had a workday at my 10:30 church on Saturday and the rain limited our activities to indoor projects and prevented some from attending. We got a lot of good things accomplished. Also, as is the case on many days like Saturday, the best part of the day was the interaction of people working together.

-Saturday afternoon my wife and I went to watch a couple of kids from our church wrestle in a local tournament. It was fun to watch them and to see the huge smiles on their faces when they saw us. It was great to interact with some of their family members.

-I am loving the discussions taking place in my discipleship group that meets on Wednesdays. This group is on what we call the Third Step and it is the final part of our formal training. From here, they will be leading others in this same process. Their desire to apply what they are discovering is very encouraging. I love that they prepare before we gather and that they are so open when they share. Leading this group is a highlight for me each week.

-Last week was the second of 12 classes on Fatherhood that I am helping lead at the prison located in our community. It is turning into something special. The desire of these men to learn and do better is humbling. To see, and hear, their appreciation is very moving.

-Looking at my calendar, and to do list for the next 3 weeks made me weary. This is a very full stretch of time for me.

-Attendance is not the goal for a pastor or church. However, when attendance plateaus it is discouraging. Both of my churches have plateaued, or even slipped a little, in the past 4 months. There are so many people around us that don’t know Jesus as their personal Savior and yet we are not reaching them. That hurts my heart. It increases my prayer burden and I am seeking answers to see that we reach more and more people for Christ. I am weary of the pat excuses of weather, illness, etc … for why people are not attending. At some point, I must look in the mirror and own my part.

-In just over 3 weeks my wife and I are getting away for a vacation. To say that we are looking forward to it would be a massive understatement. This one has been planned for a few months and now it is almost here.

-I just got word this past week that the church my Dad was pastoring when I was born has been torn down. Unfortunately, it was not because the church has grown and needed to expand or relocate. I had a moment of sadness when I got that news.

Here’s hoping that your list of tasks for this week include some time to refresh.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a day with many glitches and great encouragement in worship and a change of plans. As for my musings …

-It was powerful seeing 9 people come forward to invite Jesus to meet them at their hurt, sorrow, anger or loss and to begin healing. It was moving to see each of these people have others place hands on shoulders in prayer as comfort and support. This was very encouraging to experience.

-I had planned to be gone visiting my Dad for a couple of days, but was advised that this might not be the best week for that, so I changed my plans and will go another week very soon. That change of plans has created some unexpected time for me today. Now I just need to be sure and not blow that glorious opportunity of some extra time.

-My Assistant Pastor was gone yesterday preaching at another church so a pastor friend could get away. I am not sure we can allow him to miss another Sunday morning in the future. We had nothing but problems with our computers, projectors and most of our media stuff. It is now obvious that I can be gone and everything goes smoothly, but when he is gone we are in trouble.

-Last night I slept through the night. That is significant because for the past couple of weeks I have been waking up anywhere between 1:00 and 3:00 am burdened for one someone or something. On some of those nights I prayed briefly and went right back to sleep, but on many of those nights it was an hour or two before I was peaceful enough to go back to sleep.

-I received communication from my son and my daughter in law last week. They are still awaiting word on where their next ministry assignment will be. They are still in Africa and their next ministry location will be in Africa. They are safe and they are in a location where they can communicate more frequently. Thank you for your prayers. Continue to pray for them as their next assignment is determined.

-I tend to be a “piler” instead of a “filer” when it comes to paperwork in my office. I generally know where anything is in the piles and can retrieve an item in a moment or two. Looking at my desk this morning, it appears that it is time for some purging, a little filing and some “re-piling”. Everything but the “re-piling” will make my wife happy.

-My 9:00 church had 5 Easter attenders return yesterday. That was encouraging.

-I have been asking “Why not?” a lot recently. As I study scripture and history and see the great moves of the Holy Spirit in the past, I keep asking “Why not now? Why not here?” God is still God. God is still in the life-changing business. Revival is still possible. Transformation is still happening around the world. So, why not here and why not now? I am growing more and more desperate to see mighty move of God in my churches and community. The big conclusion I have come to is that the problem is not with God. He is able, willing and ready to bring revival. The problem must be with me. I am seeking revival in me first. Many years ago, Rodney “Gypsy” Smith, a preacher based in England, was asked what it took to see a mighty move of God. He answered, “Go home. Lock yourself in your room. Kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle around yourself. There, on your knees, pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival within that chalk circle.”

-I am grateful for a couple of days of sunshine. We have been cloudy for a long stretch of time. However, our attendance would suggest that many people used the sunshine as a reason to be places other than church yesterday. I have always said that pastors usually hope for mediocre weather on Sunday mornings. Not so bad that people will use that as an excuse to stay home and not so good that people use that as a reason to go do other things. We pastors are a strange group.

-Now to figure out what to do on this unexpected time with no plans. Where are my fishing poles? Maybe under a pile of stuff on my desk.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was an outstanding day with many great moments. Yesterday was also an exhausting day. As for my musings …

-The best news of all is that at least 12 people said yes to Jesus as their Savior yesterday in my two churches. I say “at least”, because I am still hearing of people who made decisions but didn’t indicate it during the service. Praying for even more to step into a “new day” with Christ. 12 people changing their eternal address makes the effort and energy that goes into Easter worth it. Even 1 choosing Jesus would make it worth it, 12 just means a lot more celebrating.

-Children took part in the worship at both churches and they always add energy and cuteness to the service. My cuteness factor is certainly not what it used to be.

-In my 9:00 church I sat down with a few of the children, on the platform, and asked them some questions to begin my message. They were awesome and I think they enjoyed it. I know that one little girl enjoyed it because when I sent them back to their families she didn’t go. She stayed there with me on the platform as I began to preach.

-In my 10:30 church we showed a video that my Assistant Pastor produced of several people from our church giving cardboard testimonies. They held a piece of cardboard that had a message on each side. The first side shown was part of their story before Christ or of a significant struggle in their life. The other side was a testimony of God’s work in their life. It was powerful. I opened the message with the video.

-Friday night we had a Good Friday service. We shared communion as part of the service. It always moves me to share communion just after examining all that Jesus went through for us in going to the cross. We finished the service by joining with someone else and exchanging one significant prayer request to focus on between the service on Friday and Easter worship. It was moving to see people sharing and to hear some of the prayers being offered.

-Attendance at both churches was up significantly over the past several Easters. The best part of the attendance was that most of the visitors are from our area, so they are legitimate prospects for the future.

-At my 10:30 church we shared the message on Facebook live. We only had one brief glitch. We are hopeful that we will reach more people as we offer more options.

-I had no trouble falling asleep for an afternoon nap yesterday.

-There was a breakfast before my 10:30 service and a brunch after my 9:00 service and I couldn’t partake of either one. That just doesn’t seem fair.

-We had some parking issues at both churches. We are going to have to think through that before next Easter. It is a great problem to have, but it is a problem.

-We were just 8 short of the 200 mark at my 10:30 church and we went over 80 at my 9:00 church. Those are significant numbers for both churches.

-My wife and I went for a walk on one of the new trails in our city parks late Sunday afternoon. It was a great time to be outside, to enjoy the beautiful trail and to spend time together reviewing the day.

-On Saturday morning, our son and his family had to be evacuated from where they have been serving as missionaries. Some of the unrest that has been simmering erupted near them. Thankful for their safe evacuation and that of their entire team. Praying for the ministry seeds they planted and for the people of that area. Praying for clear direction for their ongoing service in Africa.

-Praying for some divine appointments in following up with some people who attended and some who made decisions yesterday.

-Seeking clear focus for this Sunday’s message. Sometimes the Sunday after Easter is difficult after all the planning and effort that goes into Easter.

Here’s hoping that you see many signs of God’s presence and grace this week.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a very emotional day for me. I was very invested in the message and carried a heavy burden to present it in a way that pierced people’s hearts and minds. I also am wrestling with heartbreak of hearing about the deaths of 5 people over the weekend. Each of these deaths were ones where I either knew the person who died or the family who was impacted. What makes it even more difficult is that the ages of the 5 were between a few weeks old up to 20 years old. As for my musings …

-God was moving in my heart all weekend.

-Our Annual District Assembly was Friday night and Saturday. It was an outstanding time of vision casting, celebrating and personal challenge. It is a time when we gather to do business as well, but even while doing all of the necessary things of the Assembly God showed up and we really had church. On two occasions the altars were lined with people surrendering and seeking. That was my kind of Assembly.

-In the afternoon, I met with a family in preparation for preaching the funeral service for a special man who was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and brother. The funeral is later this morning. This will be my 4th funeral in 9 weeks.

-I have a question/statement that has been rolling around in my soul recently. Why not? The impetus has been a frustration in not seeing more happening in my churches and in me. Looking at all that God has done many times in many places and asking “Why not here? Why not now?”

-Attendance was down at both churches. This was the first weekend of Spring Break for our local schools.

-Weather yesterday was outstanding. Warm and sunny. It was so nice that my wife and I went out to one the city parks and took a leisurely walk in the late afternoon.

-I am really looking forward to Easter Sunday.

-This week I will join with another pastor and begin teaching a course on fatherhood at a prison located in our community. We will be working with men who are scheduled to be released within the year. I am excited to get started with this opportunity.

-I am enjoying watching some baseball and I am still adjusting to the fact that my Cubs are defending World Series Champs.

-I have really been missing my grandkids recently.

-I loved being a part of the ordination service for 5 great people at our District Assembly.

-Last week I began leading a group of 11 people in our 3rd level, we call them steps, of discipleship training. The plan is that they will begin to lead someone else in this same process that they are now finishing. We have another 15 people who have finished the 1st level and we are praying that they will continue the process. We are seeking to make disciples, not just stack up decisions.

-Yesterday my Assistant Pastor went live on Facebook for a few minutes during the message. This was a little test run. It went well and the reaction was good. With the positive results of that test on Easter Sunday we will be going live for most, or all, of the message. We already have the messaged recorded and available on our Facebook page and website.

Here’s hoping that you find some time this week to prepare yourself for Easter and to invite several people to join you on Sunday.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

-I had a rough start to my Sunday. As I attempted to go to sleep Saturday evening my mind would not shut down. I was overwhelmed by thoughts of things I wanted to do and with a lot of burdens for people and situations. The result was that I only slept 2 and a half hours.

-It could have been the somewhat dreary weather, it could have been the lingering sicknesses that have been going round and round or it could have been an attitude issue. Whatever was the cause it was tough to minister in my 9:00 church yesterday. Difficult for those leading us in music as well as preaching. Praying that yesterday’s atmosphere doesn’t show up again for a long time.

-My 10:30 church started in a similar fashion to my 9:00 church, but seemed to warm up as the worship service went along.

-I was struggling personally a little more yesterday because of getting word on Saturday that my Dad is back in the hospital. I so appreciate my stepmom and stepsister keeping us informed, it eases some of the pain of being 6 hours away. Awaiting word today on what the next course of action will be for Dad.

-I was very encouraged to see the large number of Easter invitations that people took with them yesterday at both churches. Praying for a great time of worship and changed lives on Easter Sunday.

-Baseball season opened yesterday and for the first time in my life my Cubs will be referred to as “Defending World Series Champs” all year long. I am loving that, the opening night loss not so much, but being defending champs has such a nice sound to it.

-There are many people around me who are going through major life issues. This keeps driving me to pray more.

-There seems to be a lot of ministry positions where we need more help at both of my churches. In my experience a church goes through seasons like this one periodically.

-I am reminded often of Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 9:37-38, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest.”

-This past week most of our newly formed Church Health Team met for the first time. A couple of them were not able to attend this introductory session. I was encouraged as we met and am excited to move forward with this group as we look at our current health and ways to improve the health of our church and its ministries.

-My wife and I were able to Facetime with our grandson over the weekend. He is finishing his freshman year of college and appears to be doing very well. It was great to see and hear him for a few minutes. He will be heading to Africa to be with his parents and siblings as soon he finishes with his finals.

-We have a group who will begin the third phase of our discipleship process on Wednesday of this week. This will be the first group who has gone through our steps of discipleship and they will then begin to lead others in this same process. This is very exciting.

Here’s hoping that you sense that you are being lifted in prayer this week.

 

Dennis