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

Sometimes I Don’t Like Me Very Much …

Can you relate to this title? I am not looking for pity and this is not a passive aggressive attempt for pats on the back. I am simply stating a fact. There are times that I don’t like me very much. These times are usually triggered by my failure to do something that I know needs to be done. Or at least putting it off so long that it becomes an emergency that must be rushed. I don’t like myself in those situations. I usually have some intense conversations with myself in these moments. It is not a pretty picture. But it is true, at least for me. Do you ever have times like this?

I have been wrestling with the why of all this recently. Why do I do this? Why don’t I simply do what I know needs to be done, especially considering that I am painfully aware of the feelings that will pop up if I don’t? Why do I repeat this behavior and put myself into such a frustrating cycle?

After much reflection, I have come up with 3 big whys for this tendency of mine.

My 3 Whys …

-I often delay, avoid, or run from, what I know I need to do because I will have to change some behavior. Ironically, I am a person who generally likes a lot of change. When I hear “We’ve never done it that way before”, my default response is “Great, let’s try it!” And yet, I still resort to familiar, comfortable or convenient behavior when I don’t really want to do something. When this happens, I don’t like me very much.

-I sometimes don’t want to do something because I am not sure I can do it well. As much of an adventurer as I normally am there are times that I back off just because I don’t think I can something well enough. This seemingly random reaction on my part reveals some natural insecurities. Whether it is normal or not, doesn’t help me to like myself any better for not doing it.

-There are also times when I just don’t want to do something because I am afraid that it will work. Think about it. While it is true that if I attempt something and it doesn’t work or I fail at it, I will be sad, maybe embarrassed or mad. It is also true that if I don’t do it well the expectations for the next time will be lowered or, I might not even be expected to do it again. However, if I go for it and it works, then things may never be the same again. This can be a little overwhelming when you think about it. And I think about it a lot. I don’t like myself much when I realize this is the reason I don’t do what I know to do.

I am convinced that these 3 whys are not just issues for me, but that many people struggle with the same or similar issues. I am certain that they show up every Sunday in churches of all sizes, shapes and styles.

What are your whys? Is there one that plaques you more than others?

I am comforted to know that God’s grace is sufficient for all of us. I am motivated to reduce those times of not doing what I know to do by this same amazing grace and by the fact that there are others watching. Let’s encourage one another to make a change, to get over our fears and do what God has created and called us to do and to be who He longs for us to be.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday had some powerful moments. As for my musings …

-The whole worship service at my 10:30 church was filled with a sense of God’s presence and it was a powerful experience. People were very engaged and there was a sense that everyone was seeking God. It was exactly what my spirit needed.

-There were several visitors in my 10:30 church. Some of them were attending for the second or third time and a few of them for the first time.

-I was not operating at 100% compacity physically. On Wednesday evening a cold hit me with a vengeance and knocked me down for a couple of days. This was a major drain on my energy and impacted my voice as well. I changed my Sunday morning preparation routine to conserve my voice and energy.

-Yesterday’s message was about living an “Even If …” life. Being a person who follows Christ even if circumstances don’t seem to be going as we had hoped. The Lord was speaking to me, hopefully it spoke to others as well.

-Last week my wife and I got away from Sunday afternoon until Wednesday afternoon. We stayed in a little cabin in the woods that I referenced last week. It was exactly what we were looking for and what we needed. When we parked our van upon arriving, we didn’t drive it again until we headed for home. We read a lot, slept a lot and spent time talking. There was no internet access and no television reception. We will return to one of these cabins in the future. While we were there we scouted the other cabins for future reference.

-I read four books while in the little cabin in the woods. Two of them were fiction, one was a business book that had a lot of crossover for ministry and one was a personal spiritual growth book.

-The attendance at both churches was down a little from our averages.

-In two weeks, I will be partnering with another pastor in our town to teach a class about fatherhood in the prison located just outside our town. This is very exciting.

-With Easter being less than 3 weeks away, a lot of time is being spent putting things together for this very important Sunday. We are changing a few things from what we normally do on Easter in hopes of having a larger, and longer lasting, impact.

-One of my conclusions from my few days away was that I am spinning my wheels much of time. I am spending too much time wondering what to do instead of doing what I already know to do.

-Another conclusion is that I need to eliminate a lot of negative thinking and stop focusing on a few people who are not looking to grow personally and therefore do not want to see the church grow.

Here’s hoping you find some time to reflect and refocus.

 

Dennis

 

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a very unusual day that had a much-needed finish. As for my musings …

-As I sit here typing I don’t know when I will be able to post this on my blog. I am sitting in the proverbial “little cabin the woods”. (For those who knew me during my youth pastor years “little cabin in the woods” has a whole different meaning, doesn’t it?) This cabin does not have an internet connection and only occasionally is there cell service. I am going to type my musings anyway and I will post them whenever I get the opportunity. It may be Monday sometime, it may be Tuesday and it may not be until Wednesday.

-Sitting in this cabin is the much-needed finish to Sunday that I referred to in the opening line. My wife and I arrived at this cabin late Sunday afternoon. We are simply getting away for a couple of days of rest, refreshing and time together.

-Sunday was unusual because I did not preach at either my 9:00 nor my 10:30 church. Instead I preached at a church where I serve with a wonderful campus pastor. I mentor, advise and lead from a short distance away and the campus pastor is the feet on the ground person. I am much more in tune, aware and involved than it would appear to most people. This however, was the first time that I have been able to preach on a Sunday morning with them. It was an enlightening and fun day for me and my wife.

-It felt very odd to get up and prepare for a Sunday and then not be at either of my other churches.

-Our van was loaded and we were all packed for our brief getaway when we headed out for church. When we finished, and said our goodbyes to everyone we headed toward this cabin. We had never been here before and were taking a chance from what we could discover online. This place is exactly what we were hoping for and what we needed.

-Preaching anywhere other than your regular place(s) is always a bit unnerving. But the people were receptive and responsive and made us feel welcomed and at home.

-Preaching in a different place has some pitfalls and I almost fell in one. I don’t stand still while I preach and being on an unfamiliar platform almost resulted in a big tumble. As I moved around I forgot that I was on unfamiliar footing and two times nearly went flying. I think I covered it well, at least that is what I am telling myself.

-I love that I can be gone on a Sunday morning and not worry about things at home. I have a wonderful Assistant Pastor and some great people who just move right ahead and minister without a hitch.

-I have some much respect for the hard-working people of my church who stepped up and ministered so well in serving a fabulous funeral dinner last week for the 3rd time in 5 weeks. Let’s hope we don’t have to do this again for a while.

-I am very excited about the plans being made for Easter Sunday. I am especially burdened for all the services around Easter this year. I am always burdened for Easter Sunday, but this year I sense that God wants to do something we haven’t seen in a long time if we will get ourselves ready. I am already praying fervently for Easter.

 

Here’s hoping that you will find sometime and some way to be refreshed this week.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning (afternoon) Musings …

Yesterday was a very difficult day and now we are “enjoying” some winter with a few inches of snow. I guess this snow is to make up for the small amount we received this winter. As for my musings …

-We lost another dear saint yesterday. She was a jewel. She was just 3 months shy of her 92nd birthday. She had one of the greatest smiles I have ever seen and the twinkle in her eyes when she smiled or laughed was extraordinary. She was getting ready to come to church, stumbled and fell. She hit her head on something and it caused a brain bleed. When my wife and I visited her right after church she was talking, smiling, joking and the twinkle was still there. Just over an hour after we left her, she had another bleed and did not recover. I am confident of her relationship with Christ, but she is really going to be missed.

-Time change Sunday, especially the “spring forward” Sunday, is always a tough day. The attendance at my churches was not good and the atmosphere as the services began was flat. It improved as the services continued, at least until my part.

-My preaching was bad yesterday. I struggled all week with the sermon. Changing my original sermon mid-week as God nudged me in a different direction. Then I never got a good grip on the message. As I reflect now I realize I tried to cram too much into the message. I was bad when I practiced the message and I didn’t get much better as I preached at either church.

-After doing 5 funerals in my first 3 years here, the funeral on Friday will be the 3rd in the past 6 weeks. I would like to go back to the previous schedule please.

-I love spending time with my wife. Given the busyness of our schedules the past few weeks it has been difficult to get the time. So, I am really looking forward to getting away for a couple of days next week with my wife.

-I loved my conversation with a fellow pastor this morning. He is excited about some new people attending and plans that are being made for new ways to impact the community in which he serves. I love hearing of churches, and pastors, making a difference.

-I am more burdened for Easter this year than I have been in a long time. Spending a lot of extra time praying about Easter and the preparation for Easter. I am always excited for Easter, but this year I feel a real sense of urgency and burden for it.

-We had a new family visit my 10:30 church yesterday. It was good to hear some of their story while visiting after worship.

-My mind is not desiring to focus well today. Since I have a church board meeting to finish preparing for, I better end these musings.

Here’s hoping that you find someone to encourage today. When you find them, take the time to encourage them. It will improve the day for both of you.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a day for vision. The message was about looking forward and where God is leading us. It was also a day to examine where we are at this moment. It was also a day to grieve with a family who has lost a very special lady. As for my musings …

-This afternoon we will have a service to celebrate the life of one of the most servant-minded ladies I have ever known. It is technically a funeral service and there is a definite feeling of loss. However, we know that she is now pain free and beginning to enjoy the rewards of a life lived for her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I ache for her husband. They had been married over 66 years. They were the picture of a husband and wife, “the two shall become one”. They have quietly influenced and impacted hundreds throughout the years. This service is an honor to lead. It will be a joy because of the certainty of her testimony. It will be difficult because I will be looking at her husband and noticing and hurting for the fact that he has lost the love of his life.

-Yesterday I preached about where we go from here. This was the first Sunday of a new church year for us.

-At one of my churches we looked a little more generally about the future, laying the foundation for what we need to do next.

-At one of my churches we looked specifically at some plans for this next year. My Assistant Pastor remarked after the service that when he read the sermon notes to enter them into the computer for the service, that he thought the statements were good. However, when he heard me say them out loud in front of everyone it hit him how impactful they were going to be.

-Yesterday afternoon was the visitation for the family of the lady I mentioned in my first musing. It was very enlightening to observe the interactions for a couple of hours. I saw and heard the impact this humble lady had on so many people of all ages. I always learn a lot observing at a visitation.

-I also had a church board meeting as soon as I left the visitation. It made for a day of great contrasts, with worship services at 2 churches, a funeral visitation, a church board meeting and then some time attempting to unpack everything that took place as I reflected on the day.

-On Wednesday one of my grandkids has a milestone birthday. He turns 10. Hitting double digits is a big deal. I love his creativity, his sensitivity, his love for Jesus, his smile and his laugh, especially when he laughs at his own jokes.

-My grandson’s birthday also marks the 10th anniversary of the loss of one of my uncles. He would have loved my grandson. My uncle laughed at his own jokes as well. He also loved Jesus and his family well. He was the uncle who told embarrassing stories about you to any girl you brought to a family gathering. I miss him.

-I am already excited for this next Sunday’s message.

-I need to get going and finish getting everything ready for the funeral.

Here’s hoping you find a reason to smile today and that you pass that smile on to someone else.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a day with a wonderful spirit and some traveling involved. I was gone Monday through Thursday last week helping my Dad with a move. Therefore, I was cramming a lot into Friday, Saturday and even Sunday. As for my musings …

-I did not get called into the hospital for a chaplain emergency last night. That happened the past 2 Sunday evenings, so it was notable that it didn’t happen yesterday. I did however travel an hour and ten minutes to visit a person from my church who has had a very rough week. Then I visited another person from church at our local hospital.

-God really moved in on me during worship yesterday. I needed that encouragement.

-Illness once again kept many people away at both churches yesterday. This has been a very difficult winter with a lot of illnesses. I am looking forward to spring, I always look forward to spring but this time I am hopeful that spring will bring an end to all this illness.

-I was very encouraged by some conversations with people after worship in both churches.

-This morning we had 6 at our early morning (5:30 to 6:30) prayer time. That encouraged me.

-Last week was a very emotional week as I helped move my Dad to an assisted living facility. It is a wonderful place, but having to make a move like this is not what any of us wanted. However, it is the right move at this time. I am grateful that I was able to be there for that transition. As I held his hand and prayed over him before I made the trip home, I was taken back to the many times that I know he was praying over me. I am thankful for my heritage.

 

-This is the week for getting all the churches annual reports done. Our church year runs from March through February. I am trying to smile.

-My son and family made it back to their missionary assignment on Saturday. That had to evacuate in January for safety reasons. Not sure how long they will be able to stay this time. I am praying fervently for their ministry as well as their safety.

-I loved the response of my grandson who is a freshman in college to my wife asking him if he needed anything. He said, “Grandma I am fine, but I am a college student so if you want to send something I will be happy.” Guess what? She sent something.

-I missed my Discipleship group while I was out of state last week. I am really looking forward to leading them this week.

-March Madness is just around the corner. Looking forward to watching some games and beating my family in our annual contest in picking the winners.

-Working on a message about the vision for my churches. I love preaching about vision and I am carrying a heavy burden for communicating that vision this year.

Here’s hoping that you catch God’s vision for you and that you reach out to someone this week in response to that vision.

 

Dennis