Monday Evening Musings …

Yesterday morning went very well. This morning however, did not go as planned, that is why these are Monday evening musings…

 

-Our Worship service was very good yesterday. The music went well, and the congregation seemed to be engaged and participating well. We honored a young lady in our church who just graduated from college. It was encouraging to see how she is maturing and growing in her faith and life. She graduated from high school just a few months after I came here to pastor. We had a great time of prayer. Even the offering seemed to be a moment of worship.

-The message was on repairing relationships as part of a series of messages entitled “The Hope of Relationships”. I received word from 2 people yesterday afternoon how God spoke to them and how they needed that message.

-Attendance was reasonable and has been up slightly for the past 3 months.

-We had 9 youth in our worship service yesterday!

-There is a growing sense of God’s moving in our fellowship, and in our community. Doors are opening for relationships and opportunities. A few more people seem to be burdened to pray intensely. There is obvious spiritual growth in some people. There is a renewed excitement. Some of the excitement stems from seeing children and youth growing in their walk with Christ.

-My wife continues to do well in her recovery. On Wednesday it will be 6 weeks since her surgery.

-My oldest grandson is having to come back to the states for a few weeks to clear up some of his student visa issues. While I am excited to see him and spend some time with him. I hurt for him as he is losing his summer with his parents and siblings and they are losing that precious time with him. Just another example of sacrifices that missionaries and their families make.

-I feel the need to set aside some time to make sure that I am doing what God desires of me right now. Recently, I have had a lot of opportunities come toward me. All these opportunities are intriguing and interesting. All of them are good things. I just want to be sure that I am spending my time on the best things that are available. That may mean saying no to some good things. I want to make sure that I am not chasing after so many things that I am fail at doing my best. I am not good at stepping aside for this type of evaluation. I love to evaluate, but I love to evaluate after I am doing. I need to get better at some evaluation before I even begin. Now to make the time to do this evaluation.

-My message this coming Sunday is on restoring relationships. It is one thing to repair broken parts of a relationship, but it is another thing to restore a relationship that appears to be dead. Prayer are appreciated as I try to get this important message across to the people of my church.

-I did some Facebook live with our service yesterday. I would like to do this every week. But I need to figure out some better logistics for the recording.

Here’s hoping you are seeing reason to hope in your relationships.

 

Dennis

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Monday Morning Musings …

Posted on Monday May 21, 2018

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was an awesome day of ministry. God moved in many ways. As for my musings …

-Due to some unforeseen circumstances I will have to finish this post later in the day.

Thanks for checking in.

 

Dennis

 

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a very good Mother’s Day for many, a difficult day for some and just another day for a few. As for my musings …

-We began a new sermon series yesterday. The series will run from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day and is entitled “The Hope of Relationships”. We will be looking at celebrating, renewing, repairing, multiplying, recognizing and restoring our relationships. We were created to be in relationships. Our relationships matter, and they have a major impact on all areas of our lives.

-We had a couple of areas set up for people to have a picture taken with Mom yesterday. This is the second year we have done this, and it has been well received both years.

-Our attendance was okay, but we did not get a bump because of it being Mother’s Day.

-My wife continues to do well in her recovery from double knee replacement and has begun a more rigorous level of therapy.

-We were able to introduce a new baby to the congregation yesterday. He was 5 days old on Sunday and Mom, Dad and his 2 siblings were beaming as they walked into worship.

-I believe this Mother’s Day was the 30th since my Mom’s passing.

-I had several people in my congregation were going through their first Mother’s Day without their Mom. That can be a very difficult day.

-I believe that even tougher than Mother’s Day without your Mom is Mother’s Day without your child. No matter why you are without a child (death, conflict or have not been able to have a child) it is a very difficult day.

-The planning, and work, for our Vacation Bible School is about to ramp up. Our VBS is at the end of July, but we do VBS big, so the work is already underway.

-Our venture into doing a mid-week ministry for children and youth has gone very well. We are taking a break for a couple of months. We originally were going to do just do it for 6 or 8 weeks last fall and then consider doing another few weeks in the spring. The beginning went so well that the children’s workers just kept going. The first week there was 1 teen who attended. Last week there were 10!!! Our children have gone for about dozen to a stretch where they averaged 20+. The bigger praise is that we are seeing some significant spiritual growth in our children and some of the teens have begun attending on Sundays as well.

-I am getting ready for a church board meeting tonight. I love my church board. They are always seeking to try things that could make a difference in our community. They are not stuck on any specific method of ministry. They are generous toward anything that could help reach more people for Christ.

-We start a new round of teaching a Fatherhood class at the prison this week. I am anxious to meet this group and build relationships.

-I have been praying fervently for some musicians to begin attending our church, or for some people who have musical abilities in our congregation but have been hiding it to step up and minister. Maybe we will grow them up among our growing children and youth ministries.

-I need to get going and finish some reports for the board meeting.

Here’s hoping you will take time to celebrate some of your relationships this week.

 

Dennis

Yesterday was a very good Mother’s Day for many, a difficult day for some and just another day for a few. As for my musings …

-We began a new sermon series yesterday. The series will run from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day and is entitled “The Hope of Relationships”. We will be looking at celebrating, renewing, repairing, multiplying, recognizing and restoring our relationships. We were created to be in relationships. Our relationships matter, and they have a major impact on all areas of our lives.

-We had a couple of areas set up for people to have a picture taken with Mom yesterday. This is the second year we have done this, and it has been well received both years.

-Our attendance was okay, but we did not get a bump because of it being Mother’s Day.

-My wife continues to do well in her recovery from double knee replacement and has begun a more rigorous level of therapy.

-We were able to introduce a new baby to the congregation yesterday. He was 5 days old on Sunday and Mom, Dad and his 2 siblings were beaming as they walked into worship.

-I believe this Mother’s Day was the 30th since my Mom’s passing.

-I had several people in my congregation were going through their first Mother’s Day without their Mom. That can be a very difficult day.

-I believe that even tougher than Mother’s Day without your Mom is Mother’s Day without your child. No matter why you are without a child (death, conflict or have not been able to have a child) it is a very difficult day.

-The planning, and work, for our Vacation Bible School is about to ramp up. Our VBS is at the end of July, but we do VBS big, so the work is already underway.

-Our venture into doing a mid-week ministry for children and youth has gone very well. We are taking a break for a couple of months. We originally were going to do just do it for 6 or 8 weeks last fall and then consider doing another few weeks in the spring. The beginning went so well that the children’s workers just kept going. The first week there was 1 teen who attended. Last week there were 10!!! Our children have gone for about dozen to a stretch where they averaged 20+. The bigger praise is that we are seeing some significant spiritual growth in our children and some of the teens have begun attending on Sundays as well.

-I am getting ready for a church board meeting tonight. I love my church board. They are always seeking to try things that could make a difference in our community. They are not stuck on any specific method of ministry. They are generous toward anything that could help reach more people for Christ.

-We start a new round of teaching a Fatherhood class at the prison this week. I am anxious to meet this group and build relationships.

-I have been praying fervently for some musicians to begin attending our church, or for some people who have musical abilities in our congregation but have been hiding it to step up and minister. Maybe we will grow them up among our growing children and youth ministries.

-I need to get going and finish some reports for the board meeting.

Here’s hoping you will take time to celebrate some of your relationships this week.

 

Dennis

Sometimes I’m Listening …

For some time, my wife has been after me to have my hearing evaluated. She is convinced that my hearing has suffered, and I may need something to help me hear better. We don’t agree on this issue. Therefore, I have been reluctant, some might call it stubborn, to go down this path of having my hearing evaluated. I have two major reasons for not wanting to get evaluated.

One reason is that I fear she is correct and I don’t want to admit to this phenomenon.

The other reason is that I fear she is wrong and my hearing is just fine. Then how do I explain what I didn’t hear?

Does that sound confusing? Let me attempt to explain. I have a friend who was having a similar dispute with his wife. (Do all married couples have this discussion after a certain age?) He finally gave in and went to have his hearing evaluated. He went through the testing and waited for the results and evaluation. He was sure that his hearing was fine. He was correct!

The audiologist told him that according to all the testing that there was nothing wrong with his hearing. At this point my friend gave his wife one of those “I told you so” looks. (I don’t advise using this look very often, but he went for it anyway.) Then the expert said, “There is nothing wrong with your hearing, however you do need to work on your listening.” At that point this conversation took place in my friend’s head; “What? Ouch! Can I take that look back? Is there anyway that my wife didn’t hear that?”

Do you understand my reasons better now?

If my wife is correct I will have to not only admit I was wrong, but I will have to make some major changes. If, however, my hearing is okay then I will likely be confronted with the truth that I am just not listening very well. I am struggling to know which scenario is worse.

As I was wrestling with this today I had a growing sense that God was attempting to have the same conversation with me about my spiritual hearing.

My fears in this regard are a bit different than my fears with my wife and my declining hearing ability.

Experience has taught me that the wrong party in this is not likely to be the Lord. My struggle about my spiritual hearing is that I have been hearing a lot of things from the Lord much clearer recently. That is a good thing. Those things are rocking my world as I begin to formulate what they mean for my life. If what I am hearing, with some definite hearing issues, is rocking my world this much then what will happen if I really adjust and listen more closely to the Lord? Can anyone out there relate to this?

I want to hear, and listen, better. I want to know what the Lord wants from me and for me. I want to hear every syllable he sends my way. With a trembling voice in my spirit I am saying. Could you speak a little slower Lord? I don’t want to miss any of what you are saying and how you are directing me. I am seeking to listen better.

How about you? What are you hearing? Are you listening?

In the meantime, I better go I think my wife was asking me something.

 

Dennis

I’ve Had the Wrong Motivation …

My focus has been fine, but my motivation has been off. I was burdened for a good thing, but the reason for my burden was blurred. I think I have had the wrong motivation.

In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus said “…The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

I have focused on “the workers are few”. So, I have prayed as Jesus instructed “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers”. That is the appropriate prayer and I am going to keep on praying it. But, I now believe that my motivation for this prayer has been wrong. My motivation has been that we don’t have enough people working (serving). We don’t have enough people, but I have been stuck on that fact. I have been praying about that fact and my motivation has been to get more people to work/serve. That is a good thing to get more to serve/work. So what is wrong with my motivation?

Look at Jesus’ words from Matthew 9:37 again. “…The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” What jumped out to you?

For me, the thing that jumped out was that “the workers are few”. That is true. But I was skipping over why we need more workers and it is not just because we don’t have enough workers. The reason we don’t have enough workers is because “the harvest is plentiful”!!!

We need more workers because there so many people who need to be reached and so many people who will respond to Christ if only someone would show them and share with them.

I need to keep praying for more workers, but I need to pray because I am brokenhearted over how many are lost. My prayer needs to be more passionate, praying for more workers because of the people who are in need. My motivation can’t just be to drag more workers out and about. My motivation needs to be for the souls who are, as Jesus said in Matthew 9:36, “…harassed and helpless”. I need to have compassion for them as Jesus did and plead for more people to serve/work on their behalf. Not because I want to be able to report that I have more people working/serving. But because I care so much for the harvest and the people who are in need and will likely respond to the good news if someone who cares will simply come alongside them and love them into the kingdom.

I want to keep praying and pleading for more servers/workers. But I want to always do it with the motivation of the harvest, not to fill spots on an organizational chart.

Are you praying for more servers/workers? What is your motivation?

 

Dennis

Monday Afternoon Musings …

Yesterday was a day full of highlights. Some as a church. Some because of God taking over worship. Some of a personal nature. As for my musings …

-I got caught up in several things this morning and this afternoon and nearly forget to put my musings out there today.

-Yesterday a youth worship team from another church in our denomination came and led worship for us. They were helping us out while my wife is recovering. This group of high school students were outstanding. They were very good musically. But what was outstanding was their spirit. They worshiped, and they led us in worship. Our congregation responded in a great way. They were a great blessing to us.

-There was a great spirit of anticipation as the service began. Then the atmosphere shifted into a time of intimate and impactful worship. Then it moved into a time of listening to the spirit. Finally, it moved to a spirit of response to God’s leading. Wow, God did great things in this place yesterday.

-A dozen or more people stood as a statement of commitment to take the next right step in their difficult circumstances. They made that commitment with the understanding that they were saying yes to God’s direction even if it doesn’t go the way they hope.

-My wife came to worship today, 11 days after double knee replacement surgery! She ditched her walker a couple of days ago, walking with either a cane or nothing. She is doing incredible.

-Our attendance was better, but of course the visiting worship team helped that number.

-We had snow on Wednesday and the grass was mowed on Saturday. That is crazy. The last 3 days have been great weather.

-I have been communicating with several people this week who going through some very, very difficult circumstances. My prayers have been full of pleading for these friends. I count it a privilege to pray for them and try to encourage them. At the same time, it is agonizing lifting up people you know who are going through such tough stuff.

-I have learned a lot while helping to care for my wife over the past 12 days. She is tough. We have an incredible support system with our church and family. Prayer really matters. Nurses are superheroes. It can be frustrating not being able to do more for someone who is recovering. I am not as good when my wife is out of commission.

-I think I have gained several pounds since my wife came home from the hospital. The people of our church planned to bring in some meals for us. The meals that came were more than one meal. People who were on the list to bring us food still brought us food. Our daughter made a few meals for us and froze them while she was here last weekend. We still have leftovers from a couple of meals. We have at least 3 more days of food in the freezer. Plus, some of them brought pies, candy and other sweets. Everything has been very good, and I have done my best to finish it all.

-We had a couple of new people in attendance yesterday.

-There is a stirring in our congregation. There has been visual evidence with people coming forward or standing in response to the messages. There have been some great conversations as people are sharing what they sense God is leading them toward. There has been a tangible feeling of the power, and presence, of the Holy Spirit in our services for the past month. I don’t know what is coming, but I am excited to be a part of God’s move.

Here’s hoping that you are sensing God’s presence and power in your life.

 

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

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

Quick Thoughts on an Easter Morning …

In less than 3 hours we will be worshipping, and I will be preaching the Good News of Christ’s resurrection. What an honor to be able to share this Good News with people. I am praying for a mighty move of God in our worship today. I am praying extra, because this week has been a wild ride.

On Monday morning I did the funeral for a great lady who fought a long battle with cancer and she eventually won that battle as she is rejoicing with Jesus this Easter morning. I taught the Fatherhood class at the prison with my good friend Rob on Wednesday and that evening led the final class for a small group study. Friday morning was my normal turn as Chaplain at our local hospital. Friday afternoon I did the funeral for a special man and he is now walking around without his walker as he explores heaven. Friday evening, we had our Good Friday service. It was a powerful service. Saturday afternoon I did the funeral for another special lady who was 5 days shy of her 92nd birthday when she stepped into heaven. After the service I drove 45 minutes to visit a lady from our church who has been in the hospital for a few weeks. Earlier this week we were very concerned about her and what was coming next. Yesterday she was smiling, talking and doing much better.

My early Sunday morning routine got interrupted as I was doing my normal Sunday preparation of prayer and running through my sermon. Therefore, I am praying fervently that God will step in a special way. I am not confident all about my part this morning. But I am very confident in God.

This week has been awesome. This week has been busy. This week has been humbling. This week has been emotional. This week has reminded me that my plans don’t matter, what matters is being obedient in serving others.

I am going to celebrate. I am going to share the Good News. I am going to leave the results up to Jesus.

Have a blessed Easter.

 

Dennis

Monday Evening Musings …

I had a funeral early this morning and am just now getting around to my Monday morning post. As for my later musings …

-I had a funeral this morning for a precious lady who had battled cancer for many years. She was funny, kind and was one who persevered through many trials. I was not her first choice for the funeral. She informed me a while back that I could do her funeral now that her first choice had died. I asked who her first choice was, and she answered “Don Rickles”. I loved her and her sense of humor. It was a joy and privilege to lead her funeral service.

-Yesterday was a long day. I only slept about 3 hours Saturday night, my mind was racing with many things. We had our regular schedule of Sunday activities. Then I was at the funeral home for a couple of hours during the visitation for the lady whose funeral I did this morning. Then my wife and I went to another town, about 45 minutes away, to visit a lady from our church. When we got home I attempted to do some studying and preparing for this week, but my mind would not engage for some reason. So I went to bed early in an attempt to make up for the short sleep time the night before.

-Some of the children in our church led the congregation in a song during worship yesterday. Another group of our younger children were moving through our sanctuary singing and waving their palm branches. The group of children was about half our normal size due to school being on Spring Break. The kids did great and our people sang well as they followed the kids.

-We had sleet and snow arrive on Saturday so the ground was covered with snow Sunday morning. Not fun for the last Sunday in March.

-Our people were very engaged during all parts of worship yesterday. There were even some “Amens” and other comments spoken out loud during the message!

-In our family Bracket Challenge for the NCAA tournament I will finish in 9th place among 12. Not a good showing at all. My bracket was shattered early in the tournament. But, I have loved watching this tournament. Some outstanding games and some fun stories about players, coaches and even a team chaplain. I picked Virginia to win it all. Since they lost their first game you get an idea about my bracket. How is your bracket doing?

-Preparations are being made for Easter Sunday and our Good Friday service. I always look forward to preaching these services.

-Have you thought about the fact that Easter Sunday is on April Fools Day this year?

-One reason I try to go to a funeral visitation, and hang around for a lengthy time, when I am doing someone’s funeral service is the stories I hear. Also, to see the family interactions. I learn a lot by being an observer during this time. I love hearing how those coming to the visitation were impacted by the deceased. It always helps me as I put together the service and message.

-The people in my church are awesome. Watching them set-up, serve, and clean-up for a funeral dinner is inspiring. They go above and beyond what is expected. They also do it without thought of getting any recognition for their service. I love them! Our people also make great food.

-I am getting the itch to fish. Looking forward to fishing a little more this year than we did last year.

-My wife and I are going to get away for a couple of nights right after Easter. I don’t think we will have any internet or TV service in our little cabin. We are not going all the way off the grid, we will still have some phone service, but we will be at the edge of the grid for a bit. This is a much needed, and much anticipated, time of relaxing and refreshing.

-I am very excited for the series of messages that will begin the Sunday after Easter. We will be looking at how Daniel, and some of his buddies, handled adversity and unexpected circumstances. We all face difficulties. How we respond to, and handle, these difficulties is what causes us to soar or crash.

Here’s hoping that you will take some time this week to reflect on the love that Jesus has for you and how much he sacrificed to show you his love.

 

Dennis