Some things I am wrestling with …

It is a fact that things are different in our culture today than they were 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. Many of these differences are simply progress and some of them could easily be classified as a regress of some sort. With all of the differences in our world, many methods of reaching people and making a difference in their lives are no longer as effective as they once were. This leads me to wrestle with things such as …

-How to communicate more effectively to the world I live in so that people are drawn to the life-changing message of Christ’s love? This is always something I have strived to do in my life and ministry. Recently, I feel that I am spinning my wheels without getting much traction with people.

-How to live in my community without being viewed as someone who really isn’t part of the community? It seems that many people no longer view me as a “true member” of the community when they discover that I am a pastor. I am working on it, such as coaching at the local middle school and have been invited to help at the high school next year and I am teaching a class at the prison.

-How to lead without dictating what should happen? This involves finding the balance of doing, teaching, encouraging, empowering, discipling and releasing. If there is a balance to be found in those things. Seeking to do much better at the team building aspect of ministry.

-How to confront sinful attitudes, and actions, in those who claim to be following Christ and seem to be blind to their own issues? I am referring to those who likely attend a church and make a claim of faith, but they do things that are in direct contradiction to the words of Jesus. Not just what they do, but their attitudes about what others do as well. The attitude issue seems much more difficult than the actions.

-How do know when I am no longer being effective? I do not want to be one of those “he should have sat down a while ago” pastors. I know how easy it is to fool oneself and not see our true effectiveness, or ineffectiveness.

-How to expand the ministries without losing the value of gathering together? I desire for us to “be” the church all over the community, not just “do” church in our building. However, I believe in the value of gathering as a body to encourage, unify and be accountable.

These are just a few of the things I am wrestling with currently. These are things that often dominate my thoughts and prayers recently. What are you wrestling with? What thoughts do you have for me these areas I have shared?

 

Dennis

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If I could, I would …

This unfinished statement has recently been rolling around in my mind. Granted there is a lot of open space in there, but I keep coming back to it. Then it turns into a question, “If I could what would I do?” That leaves a lot of space for fill in the blanks.

I am in the process of trying to fill in the blanks got myself. It is an exciting and scary process. I am confident that this is going to find its way into a sermon very soon.

How would you finish the statement “If I could, I would ____________________________________________”?

I would love to hear your story on filling in the blank of that statement. You can leave me a comment if you would like, but in some way I would love to hear from you.

I will write more on this very soon.

In the meantime, have some fun and ask people how they would finish that statement. It just might provide some very interesting conversation.

Dennis

Confused, Burdened, Tired or Depressed?

Have you ever been confused? Have you ever been confused about things you are feeling? Have you ever been confused about whether you are depressed, or maybe just tired or are you just carrying some heavy burdens? If the answer is yes, then you and I have something in common.

There is no doubt that I could use some time off, but what I am feeling is more than fatigue. I have begun to use the phrase “my heart hurts”. I am not talking about any physical issues with my heart muscle. It is my attempt to give a word picture of what is going on with me.

There have been moments recently when I have certainly felt down about things happening in the lives of people around me. So I guess on some level there is depression. But there is much more going on.

I know that I am carrying some burdens and am burdened for some people and situations.
Can you relate to any of this?

Maybe we need to create a new category or description of how we feel during times like this? How about CBTD syndrome?

It is beginning to dawn on me that the burdens I feel, the things that make “my heart hurt” are wearing on me and creating some serious fatigue. I am recognizing that delays in seeing improvement in the things that are burdening me it certainly brings me down. I am beginning to understand the relationships that exist between burdens, the resulting fatigue and the depression that chases you during these times. All of which leaves me confused many times.

In my self-analysis I believe that I am suffering from CBTD. Are you suffering from this?
Tomorrow I will get into a little more detail on the causes of CBTD syndrome. Then we will look at what, if anything, can be done to overcome or improve the symptoms of CBTD.

Here’s hoping that you are feeling the presence of God no matter what you are facing or feeling. Here’s hoping that matter how you are feeling you will look to encourage someone today.

Dennis

Facing the Fears …

How do you answer the question, “What are you afraid of?” Most of can quickly list a few acceptable things, such as … spiders, heights, snakes, public speaking, death, mice, little people (you know who you are), dogs, the dark, noises in the dark, spiders, snakes and mice making noises in the dark… you get the idea. But what about some of those fears that we don’t talk about over the dinner table? Some of those fears that we have trouble even admitting to ourselves? What about those fears?

I have been thinking of, and processing, the idea of fears often recently. Part of the reason is some of the things I have been studying and a larger part of it is attempting to face some of my own fears.

If you were completely vulnerable with me, what would you confess are your greatest fears right now? What are some of the fears that you are well aware of but just avoid? What are some of the fears that you are not sure what others would still like you if you told them? Maybe it is a fear of what others think of you.

How do you face your fears? I must confess that the fears I have been wrestling with recently are ones that I have avoided facing for a while. Part of my goal-setting for this year had to do with facing some of these fears. One way of facing fears is to ignore them. How is that working for you? It has not been working well for me at all. Another method of dealing with fears is to declare that you have already overcome them. The old “fake it till you make it” method. That works until you are actually face to face with the fear. Or you could just give up and let the fear win. That is tempting at times.

I have tried all of the above methods and I am not satisfied with the results. How about you? Have any of the above methods of dealing with your fears worked for you?
What other methods have you tried?

I am planning to share some more about my fears and what I am attempting to do about them in some upcoming posts. That is, if I don’t chicken out.

Until next time, here’s hoping you are finding some great ways to face your fears and to encourage someone else as they deal with their fears as well.

Dennis

What are you seeing? What are you hearing? …

I took a lot of pictures on my recent trip to Kenya and I posted several of them on my Facebook page. After a few days of posting pictures one of my daughters commented “We need more pics of the kids”. The main purpose of the trip to Kenya was to see and spend time with my son, daughter in law and 5 of my grandkids where they are serving as missionaries. Up until that time in the trip I had posted more pictures of the scenery than anything else. I was spending hours each day with my grandkids and I wanted everyone back home to see how beautiful it was in Kenya. My daughter however, was desperate to see pictures of her nephews and niece.

I have thought a lot about my daughter’s comment since arriving back home. As I have been doing some planning for preaching in this next year I have been asking if I am going to be communicating what matters most to the people who will be listening? My daughter wasn’t opposed to pictures of the beauty of Kenya, but what mattered most to her was pictures of her nieces, her nephews, her brother and her sister in law.

I have spent a lot of time today asking if I am seeing and hearing what matters most to the people around me.
You can help me plan for this next year. What do you most need answers to this next year? What do you most desire to know? What about the people you work with? How about your friends? What about your family, what do they need to hear?

I am not looking to compromise the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am looking to present the truth of his love and forgiveness and the power of the gospel in ways that matter and in ways that will be heard.

Will you help me? Just leave a comment for me on this blog. If you don’t want others to see the comment or question you leave for me just say so in your comments and I won’t allow it to seen by everyone.
Here’s hoping you are listening. Listening to the presence of God and to the needs of those around you.

Dennis